Complaints about sick Petland puppies pour in after HSUS undercover investigation

By on January 8, 2019 with 22 Comments

On December 11, we released the results of our shocking undercover investigation at two Petland locations, one in Las Vegas and another in Kennesaw, Georgia, where our investigators found several sick puppies and a dead puppy in a freezer. When we started the investigation, we were familiar with the issues at Petland: since 2006, our Stop Puppy Mills Campaign has received complaints about more than 1,300 sick puppies purchased there. Even so, the response we have seen from former Petland employees, Petland shoppers and customers of the store since we released the investigation has been mindboggling: within a week and a half of its release, we have witnessed more than 100 new complaints against the store pour in.

The complaints are linked not only to the two stores we investigated, but to scores of other Petland stores across the country. Here are just a few examples:

  • A buyer from Florida’s Orlando East Petland said that as soon as she brought her puppy home, she noticed a horrible cough. She took the dog to the veterinarian right away and was told the dog had pneumonia, and would have died within the next 36 hours, had she not brought the animal in for treatment.
  • A buyer from the Wichita, Kansas, Petland said that a puppy was vomiting when the family brought her home from the store. Petland had claimed that its veterinarian had given her a clean bill of health, but when the buyer took the dog to her own veterinarian, she was diagnosed with giardia, an intestinal infection, and subsequently with other infections. The buyer reported that the dog also has very weak, brittle bones and had fractured her leg recently, requiring surgery.
  • A buyer from the Dunwoody, Georgia, Petland said that it became necessary to take a new puppy to the veterinarian for an emergency checkup three days after bringing her home because she was barely breathing and was coughing. The veterinarian said that the dog was so sick, she might not survive the night.
  • A buyer from the Overland Park, Kansas, Petland said that their 12-week-old husky was first diagnosed with giardia, then went blind. The buyer was told by an eye specialist that the dog needs a $4,000 surgery and will never be able to see again and will be on medications for the rest of her life. The dog is now only five months old.
  • A buyer from the Fairfield, Ohio, Petland said that their puppy had a seizure on the second night in her new home, and the emergency veterinarian said that she would have passed away had the family waited for even another hour before bringing the dog in. When the buyer called Petland, she was asked to bring the puppy back and get a new puppy. “I was upset and told him I’d never take a puppy to him so he can just let it die,” she told us.

[Read full investigation report: Petland, Inc.: Sick puppies, heartbroken families]

In addition to dozens of puppy buyer complaints, we’ve heard from many ex-employees of Petland stores, who have verified that it was not unusual for puppies in the store to suffer from breathing problems, seizures and diarrhea, and sometimes die.

Pet store puppies are often sick because most of them come from puppy mills, or large-scale brokers (resellers) linked to puppy mills. Puppies from multiple breeding operations are often bunched together on broker trucks, where they can spend several days in cramped cages on their way to pet stores across the country. Once they arrive at the stores, they sometimes spend weeks or even months in yet another small cage. These unhealthy and crowded conditions can result in one sick puppy infecting many others.

Our investigations, as well as interviews with former employees of many different pet stores, have also found that at many puppy stores, sick puppies are not immediately taken to a vet, but instead are medicated by kennel staff based solely on their symptoms, without any diagnostic testing. This can lead to dogs being incorrectly diagnosed and medicated improperly.

Complaints about sick pet store puppies are so common that many cities and towns have responded by passing bans or restrictions on the sale of puppies in pet stores – more than 290 localities to date have such bans. But Petland is actively fighting these bans by backing legislation in several states that would prevent localities from enacting these laws. The pet store chain has been going state to state, trying to convince lawmakers to pass bills that would strip local governments of the right to regulate pet stores, and also to preempt any laws already on the books. While Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and a few others have rejected these un-American attacks, the legislatures in Arizona and Ohio have voted to protect pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs. On Dec. 28, the outgoing Michigan governor vetoed a Petland-backed bill that would have prohibited localities from banning puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

If you purchased a sick puppy from Petland or any other seller, we want to hear from you. Please contact us by filling this online form.

Companion Animals, Investigations, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Mary Plescia says:

    There is a store that just opened in Myrtle Beach Beach S.C. It is a pet store that is suspected of obtaining their puppies from puppy mills. One of the mills is located in Tennessee. We are trying to stop this store from selling puppies from mills. We having started by rallying outside (not on their property). We need to get this information out to the public. We also have contacted local officials. Can you please help us get the word out. We need broader channels of communication.

    Please help,
    Thank you

    • Burkee says:

      God BLESS You! Puppy mills need to end! All about Greed at the expense of these sweet babies! GOD BLESS YOU! ❤️🐶❤️🐶

  2. Toys says:

    I adopted a puppy from PetSmart. He was peeing out blood and wouldn’t eat. I ended up paying the vet almost $300 for evaluations and antibiotics. I only had him for three weeks.

    • Amylu says:

      I assume you meant Petland and not PetSmart. Petsmart does not sell puppies or kittens. PetSmart promotes adoption from local shelters by hosting adoption events several times a month. At these events, shelters and rescues bring dogs and cats to the store to meet potential adopters.

  3. Toya M. says:

    We have been going to Petland for the last month and I would tell my kids that the puppies look sickly and were too young to be way from the mother. We seen one dog in the cage with a really bad case of diarrhea.

  4. Chrissy says:

    Not all petlands are bad. The petland in Plano Texas does not sell puppies. They partner with the local animal shelter and help adopt out dogs.

  5. Regina Mastillo says:

    I purchased a puppy at Penn Mills, Pa mall. He had a cough and I was shown how my pup was medicated. We were asked to bring him back after we purchased him so they could see how he was doing. On the way home, the pup vomited twice and we took him to the vet the next day. He was diagnosed with a contagious sickness similar to the flu and we were told to keep him away from other dogs. Needless to say about the medications we were given for him. The entire experience with Petland was very unsatisfactory! The salespeople were pushy, the financing was done incorrectly and when I called the store to tell them about my puppy’s illness they had a flippant, “I don’t care and really don’t want to know” attitude. Our pup is doing well today thanks to the involvement of our vet. Frankly, I would NEVER take our pup back to this store so they can see for whatever reason that he is doing better. What gall of them to even request that!

  6. Donna Becker says:

    Grassroots animal advocates have been calling out this situation for years, so it’s not really all that shocking. I’m glad, though, that more puppy buyers are coming forward with their experiences. Perhaps the general public will eventually heed the warnings.

  7. Doris Muller says:

    Hmm, every time I read about the puppy mill issue, I feel totally confused about the role of *elected* lawmakers. Let me see, I thought lawmakers were, for one thing, elected to create laws that manage unscrupulous criminal-minded, unethical, dangerous human predators. AND, I thought animal cruelty was against the law–Oh gee, how dumb can I be?!!

    It seems that Ruth Harrison hit-the-nail-on-the-head when she stated,“In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.” –(Animal Machines)

    Now, mind you, her book came out in 1965–that is over FIFTY years ago. It details the horrors of animal ag. NOTHING HAS CHANGED in over fifty years! As a matter of fact, it has gotten worse, all while managed by the USDA–United States Dept of Assholes–and elected lawmakers. And I thought I was a slow thinker.

    Puppy mill- noun, factory where female dogs are used as profit producing machines. Note: While dogs are not farmed to be eaten in most countries, they still live a life of hell from birth to death because lawmakers keep it legal for profiteers to commit animal cruelty, because, lets face it, profits are the hierarchy over something labeled as a “thing.”

    It’s too bad that so many laws have to be adopted to restrict human behavior. But, the truth is, humans are very destructive,dangerous predators. They have consistently shown that they have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong–or they just don’t care–especially when lack of laws allow them to PROFIT from cruelty. Considering the length of time that cruel animal mills have been in existence, it appears that lawmakers are blind to the suffering that is inherent in this type of conscienceless commercialism.

  8. Ann Brooks says:

    If all the folks that had to spend money for the vet for their new pups could file a small claims suit for their expenses, just maybe PetLand would stop selling puppies from puppy mills. If it hits them regarding paying out a lot of vet bills, they may just stop adopting them out totally

  9. says:

    Employees are also getting really sick for been in contact with sick. Puppies
    Campylobacter bacteria is one of the bacteria employer are getting from. This sick puppies, the worse part of this is that some times people are getting well quick and another cases this people as a result of the campylobacter bacteria they are developing Neuropathy or Gillian Barre syndrome witch affects their nerve system and to my knowledge you can recover from this but in another cases is so severe that it doesn’t have a cure and employees or new owners of this puppies heve to leave with this for their rest of their lives.

  10. Julianne f Irizarry says:

    11.5 years ago I bought my golden retriever from petland. No health issues, intelligent dog and great family pet. Still alive but old and at the end of his rope soon… we also just got our bernedoodle from petland kendall we have had her 4 weeks zero health problems as of now. And Best puppy I have ever had!

  11. popoola kayode says:

    something unusual is happening to my one month puppy it front legs use to paralyze sometimes that it will be in able to stand. what can I do?

  12. Shannon Yates says:

    Anybody know what vet Petland uses? Specifically in Dallas TX?

  13. Debbie says:

    I just bought a puppy from Petland Mason Ohio. I took her to my local vet, and she has 2 parasites which makes me even more upset because my one year old granddaughter lives with us. My vet also said she is not the breed on her paperwork. I’m going to do a DNA test on her. She is suppose to be hypoallergenic and she’s not. That’s another thing they lied to me about. I will never buy another animal from Petland. They lie to you just to make a sale.

    • Jess says:

      Yes they do lie. They told me all about warranties and when I filed a claim for medical bills of $4000 they only gave me $300 without giving me any details. And unfortunately my puppy after suffering from extreme conditions passed away yesterday.

  14. Christy Lynn Daulton says:

    Just purchased a King cavalier from petland of Pensacola. Had her since Thanksgiving 2019 and we’ve been to our local vet because she has an umbilical hernia plus pneumonia. She was also younger than what they said she was. Now I’m trying to find out who t ok contact for a refund. They will not get this baby back and I am not going to pay the 4 grand she cost me.

  15. Brianna says:

    I worked at Petland in Summerville, SC for about 3 months before I quit. We weren’t taught to lie to costumers, we were lied to by management. I truly had no idea about the horrible breeding rituals. I was told they came from Top USDA Licensed Breeders. I did always notice how sad the puppies looked so I would try and give them as much love and attention as I could. Many puppies had diarrhea, kennel cough, brain damage, and intense anxiety. Only thing we were told to lie about is where the puppy is. Sometimes a puppy would be in ISO ( A small kenneled room they put sick puppies in, instead of taking them to the vet) and they’d still be shown on the petland website, so a costumer would come in looking for that puppy but can’t find it. We have to just say that it’s currently unavailable, and if they had further questions they can talk to the manager. I truly had no clue what was going on but I should have seen the red flags. I am no longer working there or shopping there for pet supplies. I hope this brings some light to the situation and I hope this awful situation can be resolved.

  16. Jess says:

    Dogs have soul, heart, brain, mouth, feet and great sense of humor to enter your world and fill it up with happiness and joy. Their love is unconditional, pure and selfless. So how are they different then us. In fact I would say they are more precious. I am a victim of these puppy mills. My world has turned upside down because I lost my baby who’s first birthday is coming up next month. I bought my puppy from Petland, Rogers, AR and she suffered from extremely rare conditions that doctors were surprised as well but it made them sense after I told them that I bought her from Petland, Rogers. Their puppies suffer from so many critical health conditions. They put so many puppies in one cage. My puppy started in that store for four months before I bought her. She was not a prisoner who deserved to be in a cage for so long. She was the most adorable cute naughty puppy and I thanked God everyday for bringing her into my life and this happiness has been taken from us now. She deserved to live long and healthy. We all must do something to stop this. It’s cruel and these stores like Petland must shut down.

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