KENBRIDGE, Va. — A Lunenburg County woman is still in shock Friday morning after she said a trip to the local grocery store Thursday turned into a nightmare.
Kimberly Slaughter dropped by Shoppers Value in Kenbridge to pick up a few groceries, when she noticed what she believed was mouse poop on a packaged bag of popcorn.
"I was like, I'm not getting that bag," Slaughter explained. "So I put it on the bottom shelf because there was already mouse poop covering the bottom shelves."
Slaughter said there were sticky rodent traps on the bottom shelf as well. She then went to grab another bag of popcorn, but noticed that bag had a small hole in the top right corner.
"As soon as I went to put the bag in my basket to take it up front, because you know, they can't sell it. The thing had popped out, and you know, I was like, oh, well, hi!"
That "thing" she's referring to was a snake.
Slaughter said she immediately pushed her grocery cart with the bag of popcorn and snake still inside to the front of the store to let an employee know about the issue.
"They're like, this doesn't ever happen here," she explained. "But the bottom shelf has no merchandise on it because of the simple fact that mice get on it."
While she was at the front of the store, Slaughter said the snake crawled out of the bag, down the side of the shopping cart before returning to the popcorn bag.
"It was the full length of the cart," Slaughter exclaimed. "It had prime real estate though."
According to Slaughter, an employee removed the snake from the store, and she said — based on the photos — friends have told her it was a rat snake.
"I have a baby, and he is just starting to walk. So imagine if he was a little bit older, or if my niece had gone and been like, 'hey, I want some popcorn' and grabbed that bag and it bit her. It's not safe. It's not healthy."
CBS 6 reached out to the store manager, Brian Stanley, about the issue. He said the snake in question was a small black snake.
"We have no idea where it came from," Stanley told CBS 6 reporter Caroline Coleburn over the phone. "We are investigating trying to find out where it came from, but we have no other indication that there could be any others."
When CBS 6 asked Stanley about the rodent droppings and traps that Slaughter said she found on the bottom store shelf, Stanley told us he was not aware of any mouse traps at the store Thursday because he was not there.
"We use mouse traps sporadically when we have a need for them, but more so for prevention," he explained.
CBS 6 also asked Stanley if Shoppers Value is following Virginia Department of Health protocols.
"We are required to, and we are following all VDH protocols," Stanley responded.
But Slaughter said this isn't the first time she's learned of an issue at Shoppers Value, and she believes more needs to be done to protect the health and safety of customers.
"They're just turning like a blind eye," she said. "They're not doing anything about it. The health department has been called numerous times. There's been multiple complaints. You know, I have another friend who has emailed the health department and nothing has come from it."
Slaughter said she plans to report Thursday's incident to the Virginia Department of Health, but she doesn't want the store to shut down for good because it's one of the only places to purchase groceries in the small town.
"That's like the only store we have," she said. “I'm a home health nurse. Shut it down. Clean it. You know, the cleaning process won't take that long if you do it properly. Get enough people in there, hire a company, clean it up and open the doors back up.”
CBS 6 reached out to the Virginia Department of Health Piedmont District to ask if there have been complaints about the grocery store. They said grocery stores are under jurisdiction of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).
We are still waiting for more information about possible reports on the store from VDACS.