HSUS investigation uncovers sick puppies, dead rabbit at Texas Petland outlet; animal control agency cites store for alleged violations

By on September 12, 2019 with 20 Comments

Our latest undercover investigation of a Petland store, this one in Frisco, Texas, has revealed frail and ailing puppies, including dogs too sick to eat and suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. Also among the gruesome discoveries was a dead rabbit in a freezer – the ailing animal was left to die at the store instead of being rushed to the veterinarian.

Documentation that we provided from the three-week investigation led the local animal services agency to pay several visits to the store, during which they reportedly documented violations of the city animal ordinance and issued citations. The investigation ended promptly when our undercover investigator was diagnosed with campylobacter, a zoonotic bacterial illness that causes inflammation of the intestines and diarrhea in both humans and dogs. A recent Centers for Disease Control investigation linked an outbreak of campylobacter to contact with Petland puppies.

The issues at this store mirror problems we’ve found at six other Petland stores in just the past year, including sick and suffering animals, store owners unwilling to take steps to give the animals in their care proper veterinary care, and an apparent disregard for employees’ or pet buyers’ health.

In April, a Petland store in Fairfax, Virginia, closed down after our investigation tipped off law enforcement, who found a dead puppy and more than 30 dead rabbits in the store’s freezer. In May, we released an investigation of three Petland stores, in Sarasota, Florida, Novi, Michigan, and Tyler, Texas, where we found animals with illnesses ranging from seizures to respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting. In December 2018, our investigators documented similar problems at Petland stores in Kennesaw, Georgia, and Las Vegas.

At every store where our investigators were able to look in the freezer, they found dead animals, including dead puppies in the Tyler and Kennesaw stores, and dead rabbits or hamsters in others.

At the Frisco store, we again found puppies in extremely poor condition who were being treated in back rooms rather than being taken promptly to a veterinarian. Some of the puppies were visibly underweight and refused to eat while shivering miserably. But pet store staff were instructed to force-feed these puppies — including one puppy who was force-fed for more than a week instead of being rushed to the vet — and provide other ad hoc care, with the full knowledge of the store’s owner and kennel managers.

Several puppies exhibited bloody, green or watery diarrhea, but we saw no evidence that the store was sending fecal samples for testing in order to correctly diagnose the puppies or prevent outbreaks. Some puppies were sold even while still displaying signs of illness, and those who purchased them were not always told their puppies had recently been sick.

Perhaps most horrifying of all, we have heard from ex-employees of Petland who told us that they saw ailing animals put in the freezer, presumably to hasten their deaths. Whether or not this was a practice at the Frisco store was unclear, but one employee there cautioned our investigator, “don’t look in the freezer [if] you’re grossed out by dead things.” The investigator later found the ailing brown rabbit that other employees had been discussing, dead in the store’s freezer.

The store’s owner appeared to be fully aware that many animals were sick, and sometimes personally drove sick puppies, untreated, back to their sellers for a refund instead of bringing them to a veterinarian.

After our investigator tested positive for campylobacter, they informed the store owner and managers in person. We then pulled the investigator off the job and contacted the Denton County and Collin County health departments and Frisco Animal Services. Local animal control authorities who responded to our complaint advised us that they found sick puppies in the store and required the owner to take some of the animals to a veterinarian. They also informed us they have issued citations to the store owner for at least four violations of the Frisco City Animal Ordinance after multiple visits to the store, but exact details have not yet been revealed.

We are glad that the efforts of our investigators – who undertake this difficult work at tremendous cost to their own physical and emotional health – has led to law enforcement officials taking action. We hope that some of the puppies still there will finally get the care they need. It is shocking that Petland, despite mounting evidence of animal illnesses and deaths at its stores, is not only failing to clean up its act, but is actually fighting us on passing commonsense laws to ensure animals do not suffer at pet stores. We will continue to provide updates of this investigation in days to come; stay tuned as our fight to end Petland’s mistreatment of animals continues.

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Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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  1. Elmer Westra says:

    I have a Petland where I live and they do nothing but exceptional work. I have purchased 2 puppies from them and they were both in perfect health. I visit on a regular basis and their puppies always look healthy and playful. I wish the HSUS wouldn’t broad stroke all Petlands as being run the exact same way. My Petland only carries a limited amount of puppies in which they all have ample room to play with and I have actually seen a DVM present on site inspecting the animals. I believe I have the right to purchase a puppy of my choosing. So instead of blasting the entire Petland franchise maybe just target those franchisees that are repeat offenders instead of hurting those that actually do a GREAT JOB!

    As for the campylobacter issue with your investigator, maybe they should be more diligent not to get poop in their mouth and/or wash their hands as that would have kept them from getting that bacteria.

  2. Angela Kinsey-Foden says:

    That is callous and wicked behaviour putting ailing animals in the freezer to bring on their demise. Along side the lack of not obtaining help and medication from vets.
    It is unbelieviable that in this day and age pet land pets acted in this atrocious way.

    Pet land should be closed down, the licence taken away fromPetland ever selling pets of any kind ever again.
    Managers severely fined for cruelty to all those animals.
    Shame on you Pet land for the cruel behaviour!!!

  3. Amber says:


    How are places like this allowed to still be in business? Isn’t this a form of animal cruelty? I don’t understand..

  4. Stephanie Dauster says:

    My dog Guinness is one of the lucky ones who found loving owners to purchase him at tge Petland in Fairfax before the scandal. However, my Brindle French Bulldog’s health was found to be question soon after. He sufferred for months with Giardiia, brought on by tainted water. I believe Petland didnt properly sanitize the water dispensers in the viewing cages . Ive been waiting for the Humane society of America to contact me.

    • Kathleen Summers says:

      Hello Stephanie. I work at the Humane Society of the United States on the Stop Puppy Mills campaign. Would you be willing to fill out our puppy buyer complaint form so we can hear more about your story? http://www.humanesociety.org/puppycomplaint.

      • Crystal says:

        I will gladly give you any information about petland that you want. We have literally had our dog for 48 hours and less then 8 hours after bringing him home he was pooping blood vomiting profusely and we rushed him to the vet in which they claimed there was a 14 day warranty and clean bill of health and I still had to pay vet bills. The petland worker came straight out and told us he had been sick after I went and approached them with concern after dropping our new puppy off. Now they won’t take my calls won’t reimburse me for vet bills and he is still very sick…

        • Blog Editor says:

          Thanks for your comment. We are so sorry to hear your puppy suffered a severe illness, although sadly it is a common story when puppies are purchased from a pet store. We hope he is on the mend. We urge you to send us more information by completing 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. We will send further details on how you can pursue your local complaint when we receive the form. You can also submit a complaint to your local Attorney General’s Office / Division of Consumer Affairs (or similar relevant agency). Again, we hope your puppy is feeling much better.

  5. Missi says:

    This is absolutely disgusting!! Start shutting down the stores the second u see them treating animals like that! I bet that will get these money hungry heartless people attention! I’m so sick of people thinking they can treat animals like this! And what’s wrong with the people that work there?? Why on earth would u not say something and help these animals! Shame on all of you! I will never shop at a Petland for anything!

  6. laura M wright says:

    We bought a English bulldog puppy from petland in lake St. Louis and she ended up having pneumonia. I know for a fact they sell sick animals because before we bought her i complained that they were trying to sell us a sick puppy but they said it was just a cold

  7. Matthew Wilsey says:

    Petland needs to be fined and investigated thoroughly, if the investigation finds negligence then the stores responsible need to be shut down. This is what they do, if they cannot do it the right way, why would they be allowed to stay open. There also needs to be regulations put in place for dog breeding, as of now there is absolutely nothing in place to hold these breeders accountable for the way they breed and the conditions they have to live in. That’s why I rescue, and will never buy!!

  8. Karen Pickert says:

    No animal deserves to be treated the way that I keep hearing over and over is happening at Petland stores across the country. People need to stop encouraging this practice and Petland needs to stop selling animals immediately.

  9. jeri swan says:

    shut the damn stores down and fire theirasses all of them low life thugs

  10. Josephine Cook says:

    I just purchased a very expensive French bulldog from pet land Kendall Florida
    DOB 7-5-2019 arrived from Missouri on September 5 sent to pet land plantation sept 7 when I picked her up that evening they required I feed her four supplements and their program food daily but by the evening of September 8 she was vomiting and bleeding from her butt with no stool coming out she was week and not eating or drinking and went straight to the vet who said to stop giving her all the products and they put her on a cocktail of meds now the company from pet land named solutions wants me to continue feeding her their products or lose the warranty benefits I was forced to purchase when I bought the puppy
    $9000 in the first 24 hours and this poor puppy my never have a healthy life but solutions wants me to buy these products and insurance not to mention the vet sold me their insurance so here we are trying to save this puppy from products that are putting her health at risk
    I’m heartbroken and I have no idea how to protect this poor puppy from these upsell demands pet land has forced on her

    • Kathleen Summers says:

      Hello Josephine. I’m so sorry to hear about your sick puppy! What a terrible situation. Is she getting any better? I work at the Humane Society of the United States on the Stop Puppy Mills campaign. Would you be willing to fill out our puppy buyer complaint form so we can hear more about your story? We’d really like to speak with you about a number of your concerns. Thanks. http://www.humanesociety.org/puppycomplaint.

    • Crystal says:

      Omg, we are going through the exact same thing right now! Our frenchie is 10 weeks old and fighting for his life and we have only had him 2 days…

  11. Marjorie Sovec says:

    Pet stores.should.not be allowed to sell animals.

  12. Becky MacDonald says:

    Shut them down. I’ve supported the Humane Society for years. This place is horrible. People protest outside and yet nothing happens.

    • Kathleen Summers says:

      Hi Becky. Thanks so much for supporting the Humane Society of the United States. I work on the HSUS’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. Unfortunately, the HSUS does not have the legal authority to shut down a pet store, as we are not law enforcement. However, we did turn over all of our findings, including video and detailed investigator logs, to Frisco Animal Services. They paid several visits to the store and made the owner take a number of sick animals to the vet. The store owner was cited. We will share updates as we get them.

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