Undercover investigation exposes Petland’s treatment of sick puppies
A dead puppy in the freezer. Puppies with hacking coughs and runny noses. Sick puppies confined to isolation. Overcrowded cages. These are just a few of the shocking details our undercover investigators found at two different Petland, Inc. pet stores last fall.
It’s been 10 years since the Humane Society of the United States first investigated Petland, the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the country. At the time, we linked Petland to mass production puppy mills, sparking nationwide demonstrations. Since that investigation, the number of Petland stores in the country has dropped sharply, from 140 U.S. stores in 2008 to only about 80 today.
In the years since, we’ve continued to receive complaints about sick puppies sold by Petland — more than 1,200 since 2006 — indicating the pet store has continued to source animals from problem producers and dealers.
That’s one of the reasons why, in the fall of 2018, we sent two undercover investigators with hidden cameras to work at Petland stores. One investigator worked at the Petland in Kennesaw, Georgia, in September and October, and another worked at the Petland in Las Vegas in November. What they documented was heartbreaking.
In the Kennesaw Petland near Atlanta, an employee admitted that she sometimes came into work and saw puppies who had “passed away.” She told our undercover investigator that she tried hard to save the lives of puppies who were dying. Our investigator, upon hearing these stories, became suspicious about a black plastic bag in the freezer. When the investigator opened it up, there was a dead puppy inside.
There were other shocking findings at the Georgia store, including:
- Sick puppies routinely kept in barren isolation room out of sight of customers. Some had hacking coughs, runny noses or diarrhea.
- The store was still buying many of its dogs from a distributor, Blue Ribbon Puppies, that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently linked to a massive drug-resistant disease outbreak that made more than 100 people sick. Blue Ribbon was found selling to all five of the Petland stores in Georgia, and numerous other Petland stores across the country.
- Cages were overcrowded, with five or six puppies sometimes occupying a cage that would be suitable for two.
Records obtained from the Georgia Department of Agriculture in November 2018 indicate the Kennesaw store was inspected multiple times due to puppies with parvovirus, respiratory infections or Giardia. The store passed most of those inspections, even when sick puppies were found, because it could show documents indicating sick puppies are were being monitored by a veterinarian. But our investigator witnessed puppy veterinary “exams” in the store that only lasted about 15 seconds.
Our investigator at the Petland store in Las Vegas reported similar findings. A very sick Maltese puppy was confined in a cage in a back room and employees said he had been there for about a month. They indicated he had been to a veterinarian but that his problem wasn’t curable. An employee told our undercover investigator they were waiting for him to die because he had been born with “a hole in his throat.”
After finding out that the Maltese was about to be sent back to the Missouri distributor involved, Pinnacle Pet, so Petland could get a refund, our investigator asked the manager about buying or adopting the puppy, and giving him a loving home for Christmas even if he might die. But Petland’s manager told our investigator that he had already received a credit for the puppy, and refused to sell him. When asked what would happen when the puppy was sent back, he said, “I have no idea.” The incident flies in the face of Petland’s website’s claim that “Every puppy finds a home” at Petland.
The undercover employee also filmed a bird with a broken wing and another bird with a head injury, both of whom were stored in a glass aquarium in a back room, and reported the concerns about the birds and the Maltese to local law enforcement.
Truckloads of puppies were delivered weekly to both of the stores from out-of-state brokers (re-sellers), which Petland calls “distributors.” Some of the puppies in the Las Vegas store, including the sick Maltese puppy, were linked to the distributor Pinnacle Pet, where nine puppies died after being left on a hot truck in 2015, according to USDA records. The two stores we investigated aren’t the only stores buying from Pinnacle Pet and Blue Ribbon. The HSUS acquired shipping documents linking hundreds of puppies from one or both of these distributors to Petland stores in Florida, Kansas, Pennsylvania and other states.
Puppies in pet stores are often sick, because many of them come from inhumane and unsanitary puppy mill operations. The animals are crowded onto large trucks with scores of other puppies for shipment across the country, making it easy for a single sick puppy to infect many others.
The reason we do these investigations is not just to document the cruelty, but also to inform consumers, who can make a real difference to end the suffering of animals by not buying puppies from pet stores or from internet sites, which often source their animals from puppy mills. This holiday season, if you want to bring home a new companion, consider adopting from an animal shelter or a reliable breed rescue. If you decide to purchase a puppy, please buy only from a small-scale responsible breeder who will show you the conditions in which the puppy was born and raised.
With everything out there about the reasons not to buy puppies from a pet store and the horrors of puppy mills, people are still ignorant enough to purchase a puppy from a pet store! I guess you can’t fix stupid!
California recently passed a law that retail pet stores can ONLY sell animals that come from reliable rescue shelters. If we could get something like this happening in more states, or even on a national level, that would go a long way to addressing the problem.
Thank god, I’m looking for a golden retriever puppy and I live in Southern CA, Irvine to be exact. I want a dog who’s 100% golden and not born in puppy mills. It’s cruel that humans actually do that kind of stuff to dogs.
They play on people’s emotions. There are several puppies at the Rockford, Il. Petland now that are too big for the cages. What do you suppose happens to them? Mastif,2 St.Bernards, and more.
OMG I feel so so sick made the mistake boigjt my dog from a pet store but I loved her dearly gave her a good home she had kidney failure I had to put her to sleep it still.bteaks my heart four years later I miss her but glad I had her I hate people who anuse animals she suffered at their evil hands
I get it but the thing I dont get is those puppies need good homes too…so as an animal lover I want them out of harm’s way as well
My thought exactly. I got my two ECGR’s from a guy starting a mill – I only found that out after the first puppy I purchased from him died, I believed he was a reputable breeder. I demanded I come to him to get our replacement, only to learn he had cages upon cages of trapped puppies in a huge barn. I ended up with 2 puppies when I left, and as they approach the end stage of their lives I want to bring a new puppy into my life. These trapped mill puppies will suffer death in these disreputable pet stores, their lives matter too. It is a moral, ethical and compassionate challenge.
If people stop buying puppy mill dogs there won’t BE puppy mills operating. It’s all about their bottom line. There are reputable breeders if you want purebreed where you can see both parents and observe temperament. And there are breed specific rescues to get your purebreed. OR get the most loving dog from a rescue
I found out about these criminal actions a long time ago, asked many questions especially about the one’s that are left there to linger in disgust but never got any replies.
Sure, but get them from rescue. Don’t pay $5000 for them.
But you’re adding to consumer demand, so the more you buy from them the more profit they’ll make, allowing them to continue their unethical practices. I understand your concern but think about it this way: considering their profit margin, for every ONE puppy you purchase, you are putting multiple in harm’s way.
I found out about these criminal actions a long time ago, asked many questions especially about the one’s that are left there to linger in disgust but never got any replies.
Some people, like myself, did not know about this until we purchase our little Jack Russel. Two days later our little puppy got very sick and ended up in the hospital. Thankfully with much prayer and medical care our little girl survived and is doing well. However, not everyone might have been willing to go to the length we did for her to survive. One more little one saved. It was extremely traumatic watching her suffer to say the least. I guess our “dumb unawareness” paid off for this little one.
It’s very frustrating trying to stop the evil puppy mills and people not educating themselves!! I can’t figure out WHY they are legal?? WHY aren’t our politicians doing something?? Very suspicious!!
It’s wrong but try and understand when you buy a dog from a puppy mill you are saving that dogs life. Most puppymill dogs in pet stores have a 3 to 6 month chance of getting adopted or bought. If not they are brought back to the mill, killed in a brutal way, or they are excessively bred just like their parents. Most puppymill dogs never see light in their whole life or even get to feel grass under their paws.
There’s no win/win for them unless they are bought or adopted.
Same for rescues.
The rescue league where I live rescues tons of puppymill dogs and then puts them up for adoption to give them the life they deserve.
I mean im 12 but i think on logic but yeah You can’t fix stupid
Humans are sick,nasty…….animals
We really are! And i living/growing up in a world with war and abuse and death
Its sad to hear this from a “child” but its true. We don’t live in a nice world with peace and love….no no no Any adult that thinks that needs to grow up and know that the world isnt a nice place and that humans are bad
Sorry i normally don’t go on a rant like that but its sad to hear this from a 12 year old but hey its true
Can somebody please tell me where i can find a bearded dragon breeder in Edmonton because in getting a bearded dragon and I certainly DO NOT want to get one at a pet store
And also one more thing
Don’t be fooled by ads
Behind the counter is worse
What happened to the sick Maltese puppy? Please don’t leave end the story like that!
The end for this precious little beastly was probably not a good one–he was likely killed if he actually lived long enough to make it back to the puppy mill-I can’t imagine they would’ve been humane about it–puppy millers are evil and horrible people or they couldn’t do what they do 😢🐾😦
My granddaughter purchased 3 bunnies from Petland in Atlanta Ga and all three died within a week…store would not refund any money and acted like it was no big deal..also told them that bunnies need antibiotics for digestion (?) which they never mentioned at the time of purchase..
I have a bunny… I have had her for almost 2 years (no I didn’t get her from petland) BUT I have never heard about that one. That’s new…
My name is Kathleen Summers and I work with HSUS on the Stop Puppy Mills campaign. I encourage everyone who has purchased a sick puppy to share their complaint with us at http://www.humanesociety.org/puppycomplaint.
Can someone investigate the Fetch stores in Dayton, Ohio? Someone had posted they use to work there and they could ‘t take how they treated the animals and had to quit. They stated all were mostly sick, and they had sick, really sick, dieing, and also stated people paid to play with them and probably unknowingly might take that sickness home to there pet. Shouldnt the government mandate certain guidlines and enforce them? Please help! We love you for ehat you do, Thank You, and God Bless!
Depending on the breed, can have digestive issues. Certain breeds required a higher protein or sudden change can cause death. I show Netherland Dwarfs and they have very sensitive digestive systems.
i have a rescue I got from a shelter ,i would never get a puppy from a pet store , my question is when the pet store is shut down what happens to all of those puppies and other animals?
They get sent back for credit to the puppy mill Like the Maltese.
I tell this story all the time, I worked there, one of my first jobs. One of the dogs came in with a deformity of its front legs, it could not walk just slid on its chest on the floor. I was told it could not see a vet and I could not purchase it at a lower price, it would be returned to breader for a “refund” but what do they do with the dog..you guess. Also when people would bring sick rabits or other small animals the manger would smash them to death out back to “put them out of their misery”. I quit after a few weeks but I should have done more 👏👏👏 for doing this. Not a one store thing this is obviously company wide policy. My incident happened 15 years ago or more in Orlando Fl.
Shut them all down,,, NO PUPPY MILLS
Are there animal cruelty charges pending? Will they be prosecuted?
SHUT THEM DOWN. STOP BUYING ANIMALS FROM THEM. WHATS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.
We recently bought 2 puppies from petland both puppies were there for awhile and I could not leave them there to spend one more night in those cages. Max and Cash (chihuahua&chiweenie) I’m not ashamed of buying from them. The answer is not to stop buying from them but to shut down puppy mills. I cant imagine these 2 sweet puppies being left to die in a cage.
I understand your wanting to not leave the pups there, but it’s actually supply & demand. If people stopped buying puppies, the demand would not be there. So basically, they just refilled those cages with more puppy mill puppies. Until we can get them shut down, the only option is to Not buy from them.
I totally agree with you, I have been telling Melbourne Florida Big shots to go after Puppy Mills
Jeff your awesome!!
I bought my dog from the Petland in Alabama about two years ago and when I took her to the vet that was next door they told me she had been kept in the back because she had a respiratory infection in both lungs. They never disclosed this to me when I bought her. I was so upset but would never return her.
Saying not to buy them from a pet store is a tad wrong. If you buy a puppy from there you are still saving it. Because there’s no telling what might happen to it if it’s not bought. All life matters, the puppies don’t get the choice if they’re gonna be given at a shelter or sold at a pet store.
Because you only save that ONE dog. But, since you bought that ONE dog, the puppy mill can now justify its forcing it overbred mother to have another litter, which might just kill her, since she’s had 10 litters in 5 years. And some of her pups might be deformed or die at birth because mom is underfed and has no prenatal care. So saving that “one pup” just sentenced several others to death. If no one buys the puppies currently in pet stores, we are actually saving hundreds more, who will never be born and have to go through the torture that their predecessors are going through. Not to mention the ones that get adopted at pet stores, and then the adopters no longer want them and dump them at shelters (to possibly be euthanized because of lack of space or untreatable behavior or illness), or worse, let them run free to get struck by cars or… I know we want to save them all, believe me, I want to, too! But buying animals at pet stores because we want to save it just perpetuates the problem.
Thank you….I couldn’t have said it better….now I hope everyone reads it….its plain easy to understand… common sense. Please people read it… if you dont get it the first time, read it again!
But by buying those puppies, you’re giving money to the people who perpetuate this cruel puppy mill system, and condemning the breeding dogs to continued misery in the puppy mills.
the point is to not buy from them to put them out of business and then the puppy mills won’t have anyone to sell to and will be forced to shut down. there are lots of puppies at humane societies to adopt, too. but i agree, its not the puppy’s fault they were born into such terrible conditions 🙁 poor things.
No, it’s supply & demand. They just replace the ones that are bought. That’s not helping.
THANK YOU GARRETT!!! I AGREE!!!!
Then what happens to all the pet store puppies that need homes? This is coming from someone who has three rescues. They all need homes. It’s the humans that need to be locked up and treated this way.
This is going to be long, unfortunately.
13 years ago my mother bought me a puppy, a sheltie, from petland. We believed the bull at the time that they didn’t get their dogs from puppy Mills. We only went in because 2 days before picking up my sheltie from the breeder we were told the vet had found a hole in her heart. Surgery would cost thousands of dollars we didn’t have. I was a desperate heartbroken girl that had waited for 2+ years for the breeder to breed again. Petland just so happened to have a little sheltie pup.
1000$ later compared to the 350$ the breeder was charging for the other pup.
We didn’t know the pup was sick when we got it. Kennel cough. My mother had a Yorkie pup from a breeder and my sheltie gave her kennel cough. Two times she almost died going hyperglycemic from the illness. We ended up having to syringe feed her to save her.
Both dogs had lasting effects from the kennel cough.
One day I googled the name of the breeder on my sheltie’s papers only to be absolutely horrified. At the time we had believed Petland’s lies about not getting puppies from puppy mills. My sheltie’s papers included the name of a very bad puppy miller and online I found multiple articles including the “breeder’s” name and the crimes they had committed. I felt sick.
I wouldn’t trade my dog for the world. But I will never buy another dog certainly from a pet store. Especially Petland.
But my story doesn’t end there. My mother on a whim years later went into Petland with one of my brothers just to look. She came home with a hamster. A dwarf fancy hamster that was supposed to be a baby. Within a week of bringing it home she gave birth to 7 babies. 7! Of course we knew hamsters could breed early but these were supposed to have been separated by gender.
Of course we called Petland. “Oh well you guys raise them until this age and we will take them off your hands and sell them. No compensation.” We refused. We rehomed them through another pet store that adopts out not sells them.
I also know of several people that bought dogs from them and every dog I know of from there has been sick or had some skin condition. Nearly all have had respiratory illnesses that left lasting scars on their breathing. Including a German Shepherd, French bulldog, and Bull Mastiff to name a few.
We have also seen a large number of puppies that had hernias and herniated navels these had nearly all been repaired but why were 1/4-1/2 having this trouble?
Buying Petland puppies doesn’t “save” the puppies it just gives the stores incentive to continue to get more and restock the puppies. Meaning the “breeders” aka puppy mills have incentive to breed more and more puppies. Causing the suffering of those puppies and their parents.
The only way to solve this problem would be to shut down Petland and the puppy mills and send all the dogs into rescues and from there rescue them. This is of course much more difficult to do than just say. If Petland’s doors are allowed to stay open perhaps they should be forced to work with local shelters to adopt out animals from local shelters rather than creating more of a problem when there are already so many unwanted dogs and puppies and cats/kittens in the world.
Also we have gone back into Petland only to see what they have for puppies we walk through but never touch or anything. We then change when we get home. Our local one often carries few pure breed dogs and most are mutts or cross breeds. I have also seen people buy puppies being lied to about the size the dog would grow to as an adult. This makes me wonder how many Petland dogs end up on shelters or rescues.
This is a tough subject for everyone. I don’t agree with puppy mills and the pet stores that keep them going but people do feel they are saving the puppies by buying them not knowing what comes with it. I have 2 pet store dogs and 1 rescue. There need to be better laws and regulations. There also needs to be limits set for breeders and pet stores alike and agencies to make sure they are in compliance.
What would you recommend we as individuals do to monitor the pets in Petland stores? Would recording video of the conditions of the animals help? Would it help to talk to staff or managers, letting them know we are watching? Who are the best agencies to report concerns to… local animal control, city or county animal shelters..? Thank you.
This company was in the process of building a “store ” in a Mall in Iowa and happily we’re denied a permit and liscense to Operate in the State at all.. Why don’t they just shut these places down and not issue them a vendors liscense. Petco and PetSmart need to be monitored more closely also!!
Please don’t believe that petco or Petsmart are any better. In the mid 90s, I worked at a Petsmart in the aquatics department. We were raising and selling baby birds. We had a spike in returns. A customer took one if the dead birds to a vet about the same time a coworker became I’ll. Both had the bird flu. The bird fly is a zoonosis which means it can be passed from animal to human. I had contact with the birds and I never got sick, nor did my pet bird at home… But corporate sent in a vet to euthanize ALL the birds we had in stock BC they didn’t want to pay for testing or take a chance. There was at least 50 birds in stock at the the time. They made us use a chemical used by hospitals to kill aids to decontaminat the bird room and 2 months later… We had new birds. Like it never happened. The new shipment came from the same bird farm as the old shipment. They didn’t seen worried about the second batch which was odd considering they keep insisting the bird flu was something that couldn’t be treated or cured.
Ok, to be fair, we purchased a puppy from a pet store and found out later that, it came from a puppy mill. His name was Parker, he only lived 2 years, however they were magical years. Yes of course he was sick and needed lots of medical care. But he opened closed hearts to the love that animals bring to us silly humans.
I agree stop the puppy mills and end this tortured lives these aminals live… however even a sick animal needs love just as a sick child needs love or a sick orphan needs a home… don’t take you hate to the puppy’s take it to the puppy mill bredeers and close them down… the love from an amazing puppy named Parker was worth more than money could ever purchase.
I’m just curious what happens to petland now? Nothing? Do they get punished for being cruel to the animals?
I swear I didnt know 😭 I just bought a puppy from petland and reading this makes me sick. They say on every platform that they only sell from responsible breeders, they even share a pic of the so called breeder. Come to find out the paper is fraudalent and the pup is from who knows where. Pinnacle pet was the distributor and I had no idea that they do what they do as distributors. Even on their website they say they handle with the most care. Now I realize I was lied to. I’m glad I was able to rescue my pup from a terrible situation but it absolutely breaks my heart to think what he endured for him to get to us.
I am appalled by what I just read here.Each state needs write a law that they will not allow any Puppy Mills.I don’t know if this is legal or not,or if it’s possible,but that’s how I feel it should be solved.No more puppy mills,no more pet stores, take those left in the pet stores and puppy mills to animal rescue and humane societies,to be adopted out.If people want a pet after that, they must go themselves to a reputable breeder to get a pet.I don’t know what kind of credentials a reputable breeder must have,but the person needs to go where the breeder keeps their animals and check out that environment.Its a complicated process,but it should start with a law.
I rarely frequent Petland unless the local supply store is closed and I ran out of food for my 2 rescue dogs, but I guess they’re completely off the list now.
The Government can (and SHOULD) license and regulate when private industry refuses to self-regulate, but the real power is in the hands of the consumer. HSUS and other humane societies need a media blitz against Petland, and the garbage media would lap this stuff up. They love corporate takedowns.
I made the mistake of purchasing a puppy from pet land before doing my research. She is a great dog but I found after three year she has hip dysplasia. The vet said it is pretty bad for a three year old. This disease is hereditary so she was born with it and peatland will not do anything about it. I have to pay a lot of money to keep her comfortable and safe. Please do not buy a puppy from here this place needs to be shit down!
Please know, YOU NEVER SHOULD BUY ANY PET FROM THIS STORE ! I was curious and made an appointment to view one of their pets. As I went into the store, introduced myself and wanted to see one of the breeds that to buy. One of the employees showed me through the store and the animals (which were cute), store appeared clean. I am also very familiar with purchasing animals. There is a reason you will never know the price on initial internet query . The one animal I was looking at was priced at 10 to 14 (Thousand dollars.).
I asked to see paperwork on the dog and the employee presented me, with a cheap, copied piece of paper that had hand written lineage , breeders names, etc STOP! Please know that NO one should EVER present you with a cheap (Backroom) machine photo of anything. Certified copies have: a seal (embossed) certificate , state seal, registration number, authentication, referenced , signed and notarized by both seller and breeder and recognized by USDA, AKC, etc.
NEVER, EVER buy an animal from this franchise and think you’re getting the real thing!!! Do your homework…….This IS NOT how real registered and Authentic breeds are sold! And at a franchise selling animals for this amount of money… ? Ask yourself a question, “Do you really want to tell anyone you bought a McDonalds hamburger for 20,000 dollars at a McDonalds?
I want to share a story about my puppy. Her name was Angel Kaur. She deserves justice against puppy mills + Petland + cruel treatment and fraud.
I bought her during my downside of life. Doctors and counselors suggested I buy a puppy as an emotional support dog for me and my 9-year-old daughter who is going through abandonment issues. She was 4 months old when I bought her from Petland store, Rogers, Arkansas. They said their puppies come from approved breeders which is a lie. They buy them from puppy mills because my Angel suffered from very rare medical conditions and when doctors found out that I bought her from Petland they were not surprised why she is this sick.
Also, they promised me about the warranties but when I filed for the medical claim when Angel got sick first I used my college fee to save her. The claim was for approx $4000 but they mailed me a cheque of $380 with no explanation and said that’s what the owners have decided. She passed away with a cardiac arrest and doctors said she had a condition from birth where her respiratory valve was open and she ended up having phenomena. This is against humanity and I loved my baby girl very much. She was the purest soul I have ever seen. Her love was so unconditional and as a mother, I will fight for her. I want Petland to shut down for treating small puppies like an inventory and making everyone fool. They not only took joy from me and my daughter they basically took Angels’ life we well. I even saw how they are cruel towards the puppies they have in the store. Our lives are upside down right now. I can’t even go to my work because she used to be with me 25*7. Home, work, groceries, shopping, hiking, walks and now she not being around is heart aching. She deserved to live long.
Thanks for your comment. We urge you to share this information and complete our Puppy Buyer Complaint Form online. This form enables us to keep track of problem sellers and ensures that we have as much information as possible to help us in our fight to stop puppy mills. It also allows us to help other puppy buyers and report chronic abusers to relevant agencies
This was a good article. Identifying companies that perpetuate puppy mills leave the choice to the consumer as to whom they do business with.
I only see one company missing…who is the trucking company hauling these animals???
Every now and again I call my local Petland and ask the clerk who answers if they have stopped abusing the animals in thier care. I also make it a point to background check anyone I think might have something to do with the animal trade.
Remember…mills aren’t just for puppies.