Instead of cleaning house, Petland wages a losing battle against puppy mill reform

By on June 13, 2019 with 10 Comments

Our eight-month investigation into six Petland stores has revealed heartbreaking stories of puppy mistreatment and deaths. It has led to hundreds of customers contacting us with personal stories of buying animals from Petland, only to have them fall sick and even die; it has caused several ex-employees to reach out to us with horror stories of how Petland treats its puppies and staff; and it has prompted more than 50,000 people to sign a petition asking the national pet store chain to stop selling puppies, kittens and rabbits.

You would think that with so much documented evidence of the conditions of puppies at its stores and outrage from consumers, Petland would take steps to clean house, provide adequate veterinary care, and stop sourcing dogs from puppy mills. Instead, for many years, the national pet store chain has focused its resources on fighting puppy mill reform in state legislatures, and it continues to do so to this day.

This year alone, HSUS-led coalitions have warded off Petland-backed attempts to pass dangerous preemption bills in seven states — Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. These bills attempt to ban localities from passing ordinances that ban puppy mill sales in pet stores. The HSUS and other animal protection advocates have been extremely successful in getting such ordinances passed in more than 300 localities, with many more to come.

Petland’s lobbyists have gone state to state asking lawmakers to enact these preemption laws that would not only potentially prohibit local governments from regulating pet stores in certain ways, but could also overturn any existing ordinances prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. But the good news is that in the last three years these preemption efforts have been defeated everywhere they have been attempted.

Victoria’s Law in Pennsylvania is named after a German Shepherd who was rescued from a puppy mill after 10 years of breeding. Victoria, who passed away recently, was paralyzed as a result of a genetic, neurological disorder called degenerative myelopathy, a disease she likely passed down to the estimated 150-200 puppies she was forced to produce in the mill.

We are keeping a close eye on these efforts and will work to defeat them when they pop up. Meanwhile, we are also working hard to get statewide laws passed to ban the sales of puppy mill dogs in stores. Two states already have such laws on the books, including California and Maryland, and there is now a bill in Pennsylvania and another in New York that would do the same. Earlier today, Maine lawmakers passed legislation prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in new pet stores, ensuring that no additional pet stores can open shop there and sell puppies.

Pennsylvania has three Petland stores that sell commercially-raised puppies, and if the bill there, known as Victoria’s Law, passes, the chain would have no option but to stop puppy sales in the state. Victoria’s Law is named after a German Shepherd who was rescued from a puppy mill after 10 years of breeding. Victoria, who passed away recently, was paralyzed as a result of a genetic, neurological disorder called degenerative myelopathy, a disease she likely passed down to the estimated 150-200 puppies she was forced to produce in the mill.

The bill in New York, if it passes, would impact one Petland store and dozens of other puppy-selling stores. The Pennsylvania and New York bills would also prohibit pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits from pet mills, and allow them to collaborate with shelters and rescues to host adoption events.

We are actively engaged in campaigns in both New York and Pennsylvania to bring these bills over the finish line, even as we push for similar laws in more state legislatures across the country. Our advocates on the ground are our greatest allies in the fight against puppy mills and pet stores that source animals from these mass breeding facilities. That’s why we periodically organize our Puppy Mill Action Boot Camps where people can learn how to be effective advocates against puppy mills.

Between August 2 and 4, we will hold our next Puppy Mill Action Boot Camp in Kansas City, Missouri. Missouri has the largest number of puppy mills in the country, and has topped our Horrible Hundred report on puppy mills for the last seven years. This event is an opportunity for budding animal advocates to learn how to end this scourge by building coalitions, supporting new laws, working with the media and communicating with law enforcement to fight puppy mills, all for a nominal fee of $25.

Residents of any state are welcome, and can take advantage of a group rate at the hotel if they book before July 2. You can learn more or register here to join the fight against puppy mills. Let’s work together toward the day when pet stores like Petland can no longer build their businesses on the suffering of animals in puppy mills.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Alan Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya no podemos permitir que esto siga por favor unete

  2. Tina Hall says:

    Please continue to go after them to stop the sale of animals. It’s awful and I wont set foot in any of their stores

    • Mary joe says:

      My coworker went there a couple weeks ago and the dog that her son wanted was 3,000 dollars. I lectured her about even thinking about buying a dog at petland. She realized that even though they claim they don’t buy dogs from puppy Mills which I don’t totally believe for a second, that their past is bad enough that she can not give them business.

  3. Elizabeth Kunzelman says:

    First time commenting, but I feel it necessary to be able to respond as animal welfare truly is our number one priority. You spend a considerable amount of resources claiming that Petland “builds their businesses on the suffering of animals” and then point to unregulated, unlicensed puppy mills. I understand that it’s easy to target Petland and you spend quite a bit of time and money doing so, but we don’t buy from the unregulated, unlicensed breeders you are always discussing.

    There are more than 100,000 breeders in the US and only about 1,700 of them are federally regulated. We buy from the best of those breeders, who, by the way, have raised their standards way above the USDA guidelines.

    Why are you focusing your efforts on the federally regulated group of breeders that actually follow federal (and state) guidelines and standards of care instead of the ones that truly are the problem you illustrate in your pictures? Don’t you want to actually fix the real problem or is this rhetoric about fund raising? Wouldn’t it make sense to start with the tens of thousands of breeders that aren’t federally licensed? Your efforts to ban the sale of regulated sourced pets actually encourage these unregulated breeders to thrive.

    We’ve publicly supported higher standards of care and we’ve made that very clear so the notion that we don’t is completely inaccurate. We don’t support the breeders who fly under the radar of any oversight and don’t put animal care first.

    Just curious, in the last 12 months, how many USDA licensed breeders have you visited? How many breeder education conferences have you sponsored because we haven’t seen you at any of them?

    Thank your for the opportunity to share my opinion.

  4. Judy Hanson says:

    The change way to much also,then they encourage people to finance and the interest rates are so high you are paying forever.I was in the store when this young boy was looking for a dod,i told him to go to the humane society and adopt a dog and that they have very good dogs there.

  5. Janet Roubdioux says:

    I know for a fact that Pet Smart sells dogs, cats, puppies that are brought in from rescue groups. They do not sell from puppy mills. People buying have to have vet references and are checked out by the rescue group. Please adopt, from shelters!

  6. Julie A Case says:

    Omg..please..please…stop this!!! No more sale of animals in petstores please!!!! Horrible!!! Save them please!!!

    • Diana Burris says:

      I agree! I have watched the work of the humane society and its unreal h oil w many puppy mills they have closed down. Some of those ” breeders” were registered also.
      There are so many animals in shelters who need home now for a minimal cost compared to the thousands in the pet stores. As long as the stores buy from pup poo y mills,they will continue.

  7. Jeannette silver says:

    The puppy mills sell to customers they mislead u.they bring a few pups up to the very nice farm house with the cute Amish kids in there straw hats.they want u to believe there pets.WRONG in the back of there property there could be a few hundred pups and there poor come you don’t go after them.z?????? Let’s get real stop the mill and half your problem is gone.

  8. Lucybird says:

    Puppy mills are now going online. Displaying banner ads for purebred puppies. Publishers clearing House . Runs puppymill adv.

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