Breaking news: Petland moves to close store after HSUS investigation shows rabbits dying without medical care

By on April 4, 2019 with 12 Comments

A Petland store that was the subject of an HSUS undercover investigation released this week appears to be closing down. After news of our investigation, which showed more than a dozen rabbits had apparently died at the Virginia store without medical care, and following an HSUS tip-off, police announced they had searched the store Monday, and found 31 dead rabbits and one dead puppy in a freezer at the store. Almost immediately, Petland announced it was severing its ties with the store.

Yesterday, with news cameras rolling in front of the store, a large crane took down the Petland sign. Law enforcement officials reported that they are continuing to review evidence seized Monday as well as evidence supplied by the HSUS investigations team in March. Our team is also reaching out today to offer to help remove and place all of the animals remaining in the store.

We urge Petland to swiftly obtain medical care for the sick pets in all its stores.

Petland’s decision to end its relationship with the Fairfax store following our investigation is a start, but the national pet store chain has completely skirted another important problem we found during our investigation – the fact that many of the animals at the store were sourced from an apparently unlicensed rabbit mill in Maryland.

This is not the first time we have linked Petland stores to sick animals. Less than four months ago, we released an investigation that found sick puppies and poor conditions at two of their other locations – one in Nevada and one in Georgia. Like the Fairfax franchise, these stores too were cutting corners on animal care, often letting sick animals linger instead of promptly taking them to a veterinarian. Since 2006, the HSUS has received more than 1,300 complaints from people who bought sick animals from Petland stores.

But instead of channeling its resources to taking better care of the animals and improving its supply chains, Petland has chosen to fight commonsense laws in states, including an HSUS-backed bill in Virginia, that seek to end the problem of pet mills. In fact, Petland is now supporting proposed laws in a number of states that would stop localities from banning the sales of rabbits, dogs and/or cats, often sourced from pet mills, in pet stores.

Pet stores no longer need to rely on selling animals. Large chains like Petsmart and Petco do not sell rabbits, cats or dogs, and instead focus on the lucrative market of pet supplies. Consumers are also growing more aware, and many now look toward rescues or shelters when they adopt a pet, or deal with small breeders where they can observe the conditions under which the animal was raised.

Rabbits, like puppies and kittens, need a great deal of care and attention. A pet store is not the place to meet these needs. By choosing to continue to sell these animals in their stores, and keeping problem pet mills in business, stores like Petland are bucking the tide toward a humane marketplace.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Investigations

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  1. Janeen Smith says:

    Thank you for your commitment to this disgusting practice.
    We should commend the large pet stores like Petco and PetsMart.
    I live in MI and the stores here only have rescued animals (including cats and kittens) from reputable shelters.
    Let’s keep THAT practice alive and well and keep educating everyone. It’s a WIN/WIN.

  2. Jen Connors says:

    Thank you for this extensive coverage of animal neglect in retail stores. My wish is that ALL pet stores would cease selling animals, and that pet mills will eventually be shut down. Continued coverage and educating consumers is key.

  3. Marcia Landau says:

    In Virginia not providing vet care if an animal dies is a Felony. So that the owner can be charged with 32 felonies. I hope law enforcement chooses to charge, prosecute and convict.

  4. Suzi Knee says:

    This is a horrendous crime to abuse living creatures in this way.
    Please don’t allow anyone involved to get away with this!

  5. Marcia Vargas says:

    Shelters animals need help, this poor animals are very beautiful sweet hearts, they never second chance have a good family, and receive love,, please help with this good idea, buy beautiful pets at the shelters, not at the stores,

  6. Kathy Emery says:

    The ones responsible won’t be held to a very high standard of accountability. Our animal cruelty laws are very lax. The only employee you had in the state (physically) is no longer employed due to y’all caving to pressure from a few crybaby delegates being called on their perpetual crap they’ve pulled all thru session this year.
    I have no doubt things will go from bad to worse without Heather & her volunteers (which you also lost but never even bothered to acknowledge).

  7. Amy says:

    About time thank god

  8. Lisa Pearce says:

    Now we need to continue working on South Carolina!

  9. Scrappyrat (Veronica) says:

    Once again, please don’t hold up Petco and PetSmart as examples. They sell small animals who come from mills just like the rabbits, cats, and dogs. The animals they sell end up in shelters and rescues, on the streets, and/or dead from inappropriate care by impulse buyers, the same as the ones in Petland. I’ve seen it first hand again and again in the many years I have worked in rodent rescue, and it’s simply not okay for anyone to sell animals like cheap toys. Rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, and other small animals have unique, complex needs individual to their species, and every individual animal has their own special personality and preferences. That’s why the adoption process and all the things we do to make it work are so important, from the first vet care triage to foster care and socialization, to screening potential adopters and their homes and educating those adopters on proper care, to ensure every animal gets matched with a human who has the knowledge and devotion needed to ensure that animal will have the best chance at life. And you can’t do that and turn a profit. You just can’t.

    Please, only shop at stores that don’t sell animals of any kind. Look how few stores still sell puppies and kittens now. The pressure is working, but we have to stand together.

  10. Ruthie says:

    Does anyone know where they brought the puppies for adoption/foster?

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