An HSUS undercover investigation covering every known pet store in New Jersey that sells puppies has revealed that many of these businesses sourced animals from puppy mills with Animal Welfare Act violations. Federal inspectors, in some cases, found bleeding or injured dogs and even dead puppies at the worst of the breeders.
At some of the New Jersey pet stores, investigators found puppies living in dismal, crowded conditions. Other stores failed to disclose any breeder information to potential buyers, in apparent violation of state law.
Altogether, HSUS investigators visited all 29 pet stores that we could find in New Jersey that sell puppies. Our research staff reviewed documentation concerning the origins of more than 1,400 puppies shipped to the stores from out-of-state breeding operations. What we found was consistent with a string of past investigations that expose the pet store-puppy mill connection:
- Fifty-three puppy mills that have appeared in one or more of The HSUS’s Horrible Hundred reports have sold animals to New Jersey pet stores within the past 20 months. The USDA warned one notorious Iowa breeder that shooting dogs in the head is an unacceptable form of euthanasia (Judy Maassen/ J Maassen Inc.). The agency found seven dead puppies scattered on one Ohio breeder’s property (Andy Yoder/ Yoder Backroad Kennel), while an Iowa kennel had more than 20 dogs in need of veterinary care (Steve Kruse/ Stonehenge Kennel).
- We found conditions at some of the New Jersey stores to be demonstrably inhumane, with puppies confined to small, rusted cages, and starved for human attention. Some of the puppies at NY Puppy Club in Edgewater were in cages so small that they could do little more than turn around. Puppies at a number of stores pawed at their cages, as if desperate to get out. Conditions at Carmona Pet Shop in Union City, Passaic Pets in Passaic, and D & G’s Petite Pups in Paterson were so troubling that our staff reported them to local law enforcement agencies for review.
- Of the 29 stores visited by our investigators, six failed to disclose any breeder information to the potential buyer, in apparent violation of state law. These stores included Carmona Pet Shop in Union City, Oh My Dog in Kearny, Fashionable Pets in Paramus, Passaic Pets in Passaic, and Absolute Fishland and Pets R Us, both in Newark.
- Many pet stores provided incomplete or misleading information to consumers. For example, a salesperson at Wayne Puppies in Wayne told an undercover investigator that all of the puppies in the store were from local breeders, but information posted near the cages clearly showed that some of the puppies had come from a large-scale dog broker in Iowa.
We’ve always warned pet buyers not to shop at pet stores that sell puppies, and this investigation proves once again that there are valid reasons for that counsel. Pet stores tell buyers that all their dogs are “from USDA licensed breeders” or are “AKC registered” as if these declarations are stamps of quality, but our investigations of licensed puppy mills and the AKC have proven in the past that their assurances are hollow and provide no guarantees of humane treatment.
Our investigation is part of a multi-channel push to warn the public away from likely puppy mill outlets such as the Internet, pet stores, and flea markets. Our actions range from support for local ordinances to restrict sales of puppy mill dogs to a variety of state laws to undercover investigations to raids of particularly nasty mills. Last week, on National Dog Day, we launched a new online campaign with the help of Maddie’s Fund and the Rokkan company in New York. Our new videos and website warn the public, in an eyecatching and accessible way, not to buy puppies from websites or pet stores because they are common outlets for puppy mills. We are intercepting consumers searching to buy puppies online, and driving them to shelters, rescue groups, and responsible breeders.
In addition to the New Jersey pet stores investigation and our new public education campaign, we are also supporting a proposed measure, S.63, that would prevent pet shops that repeatedly violate New Jersey’s humane sourcing laws from selling puppies within the state. S.63 overwhelmingly passed the state senate in June with a bipartisan vote of 27-8.
New Jersey residents can help take action by contacting their assembly members and asking them to support S.63. Dog lovers in all other parts of the country can help us spread the word by signing the pledge not to support puppy mill outlets.