Minchy, a young miniature pinscher, is slowly going blind. Patrick, a Pomeranian puppy, suffers from an inherited joint disorder that requires expensive surgery. Mainerd, a Boston terrier, must endure a painful genetic spinal condition. All these puppies were sold by Petland stores. And while it’s too late to spare these animals from their pain and suffering, and their owners from the heartbreak of caring for a sick pet, their families are now one step closer to having their day in court.
Following up on our investigation released in November 2008, exposing Petland as the largest retail supporter of puppy mills, members of The HSUS and other consumers filed a class action lawsuit late yesterday alleging that Petland, Inc. and the Hunte Corporation are violating a federal anti-racketeering law and numerous state consumer protection laws.
The suit alleges that Petland and Hunte have conspired to misrepresent to consumers that their puppies are healthy and come from high-quality breeders, when in fact many of them come from factory farms for dogs—or, as they are popularly known, puppy mills. Due to irresponsible breeding practices, many puppy mill puppies suffer from contagious infectious diseases or expensive inherited health conditions. And without the deceptive marketing practices of dealers like Petland and Hunte, many families never would have agreed to purchase a puppy mill puppy.
Ever since our investigation pulled back the curtain on Petland’s link to puppy mills, the company has denied its commercial link to mills, and even said some pretty outrageous and false things about The HSUS. We’ll take the barbs—unwarranted though they may be—but we won’t sit back and allow Petland to sidestep our criticism of its role in the trade in dogs from puppy mills.
This legal action follows on the heels of our second round of nationwide Petland demonstrations. On Saturday, crowds gathered in front of more than 30 Petland stores to urge the chain to mend its ways.
Puppy mills don’t exist in a vacuum. They thrive because individuals and corporations provide support for the mills. Our investigation indicates Petland’s role in the trade is substantial. Petland denies it supports these substandard breeding facilities, and claims to follow “Humane Care Guidelines” developed in conjunction with the USDA. However, the USDA recently informed The HSUS in writing that it has no record of any such guidelines. It’s time for the company to modify its economic model by cutting off the flow of dogs through the puppy mill pipeline.