VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach groomer is under investigation for animal cruelty and is now been charged with failing to provide adequate aminal care.

Police say several dogs were seized by Animal Control. More than a dozen animals were surrendered, including one tortoise, three birds and twelve puppies.

The owner of Blue Dog Pet Grooming, Vicki Piva is now charged with 15 counts of failing to provide adequate animal care. These charges are on top of the animal seizures, which are civil violations.

A former employee said she saw Piva stick scissors down a dog’s ear, so the dog behaved.

“The things I did see with my own eyes were not OK,” said the former employee, who wishes to stay anonymous said.

She said Vickie Piva hit and mistreated animals.

“I’ve seen her strike dogs repeatedly in the face with a comb,” she said. “Hard enough to hurt. They screamed. I’ve seen her stick sharp scissors in a dog’s ear until he screamed.”

In another instance, the former employee said a dog named Gavin was left in a bathroom.

“He didn’t have a bed,” the former employee said. “He had a hard floor.”

She and other employees questioned Vickie Piva about him.

“Why does he live here? What is the situation? It seemed wrong,” she said. “It was definitely a red flag. Her excuse was always he was dog aggressive. He prefers it in there. He likes it in there. She had us so convinced.”

Then, they noticed something wrong with Gavin.

“He was showing signs of neurological damage,” she said. “We, as dog groomers, aren’t vets, so we couldn’t make that diagnosis. All we could do was tell her dog needed help. She refused to get him the help he needed.”

She said another employee called Animal Control. She followed suit.

Police say animal cruelty charges are pending. Piva’s attorney, Brandon Fellers, disputes the animal cruelty claims.

“Ms. Piva is passionate about animals and has dedicated her 27-year career serving the community in the dog grooming business. Dog grooming is an intensely demanding profession, both physically and emotionally. Nevertheless, over the course of her seven years as a business owner, Ms. Piva has earned the trust of her clients and, most importantly, her four-legged ones. The allegations of neglect and abuse by former disgruntled employees are false and defamatory. Ms. Piva maintains her innocence and looks forward to clearing her name in court.”

Brandon Fellers, Vickie Piva’s attorney

Her former employee disagreed.

“We are not disgruntled employees,” she said. “This was a constructive discharge. That was a toxic environment. We made the decision to leave. We aren’t disgruntled employees. We just love dogs and we don’t want to see them get hurt.”

Both Vicki and Jeffrey Piva were scheduled to have court hearings on Feb. 13 in Virginia Beach General District Court, but they were continued. Stay with WAVY for updates.