Petland, Inc., the country’s largest chain of puppy-selling pet stores, supports puppy mills, according to The Humane Society of the United States. The organization revealed the results of an 8-month-long investigation in which they claim to have found that Petland stores obtain their animals from puppy mills while telling customers the dogs come only from good breeders.
This marks the largest-ever puppy mill investigation; HSUS investigators visited 21 Petland stores and 35 breeders and brokers who sold puppies to Petland stores. Investigators also reviewed interstate import records of an additional 322 breeders, USDA reports, and more than 17,000 individual puppies linked to Petland stores. There are approximately 140 Petland stores in the U.S., selling tens of thousands of puppies each year.
According to the HSUS, the investigation revealed:
- Despite assurances by Petland staff and on their corporate website that the company knows its breeders and deals only with those who have “the highest standards of pet care,” many Petland puppies come from massive commercial breeders in Missouri and other Midwestern states, where hundreds of breeding dogs are packed into cramped, barren cages—often for their entire lives, with no socialization, exercise, or human interaction.
- When HSUS investigators visited 35 of the large-scale breeding operations linked to Petland stores, they witnessed puppy mills where puppies are factory farmed in large numbers. At many, investigators saw appalling conditions: puppies living in filthy, barren cages reeking of urine, with inadequate care and socialization.
- Many of Petland’s puppies are not supplied directly by breeders, but are purchased from a “middle man”—large-scale “pet distributors,” otherwise known as brokers—showing that the company may not even know who the breeders are or what their standards of care may be like. The investigation revealed that some of Petland’s brokers are also buying from puppy mills.
- Some of Petland’s puppies are ordered online using a pet auction website called the Pet Board of Trade, demonstrating that many Petland stores are not screening breeders as its website claims. In fact, in some cases they may not even know the breeder’s name until after purchase.
- One of the most common sales pitches made by Petland staff is that they use “USDA licensed” breeders. However, investigators reviewed publicly available state and USDA inspection reports for more than 100 Petland breeders and found more than 60 percent of the reports listed serious violations of basic animal care regulations. Many USDA breeders exhibit a long history of substandard care and yet remained licensed. While USDA regulations are minimal, some of the Petland breeders are not even complying with these basic animal welfare standards.
- Documented USDA violations at some of Petland’s breeders and suppliers included dirty, unkempt enclosures; inadequate shelter from the cold; dogs kept in too-small cages; and inadequate veterinary care. Some of the breeders were found with sick or dead dogs in their cages.
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