Lawsuit over puppy that would cost $26,000 after interest exposes Petland’s deceptive sales and lending practices

By on January 7, 2021 with 32 Comments

A recent court case in Florida shines the spotlight on the questionable tactics Petland uses to dupe customers and make large profits off the sales of sick puppies—most of whom come from puppy mills.

The case involved a Petland store in Plantation, Florida, which sold a customer a golden retriever, Sunny, for $3,500. Sunny’s owner entered into a financing contract with Lending USA, a company Petland partners with, which apparently charges outrageous interest rates. According to papers filed with the court, Sunny’s owner would have ended up paying $26,655 for the dog over the period of her contract.

At the time she bought Sunny in 2018, the customer allegedly was assured that he was healthy and AKC-registered. But, as his new mom soon found out, he had a staph infection and multiple parasites. Soon after he began to limp and was diagnosed at nine months with dysplasia in both hips—a condition that would require surgeries and treatments adding up to $21,000.

Sunny’s owner sued the store for misleading her, selling her a sick puppy, and failing to abide by state laws that would have required the store to pay for the puppy’s treatment, and in October the court ordered Petland Plantation to pay $60,734 in damages to Sunny’s owner.

The legal complaint detailed the false claims the store allegedly made about the quality of the dog’s breeder. Petland claimed Sunny’s breeder was from the “top 5% breeders in the nation”; in reality, the puppy was provided to the store by Blue Ribbon Puppies, a broker listed in our 2019 Horrible Hundred report on problem mills in the United States who was linked to a campylobacter outbreak that sickened at least 118 people.

As shocking as these details are, they are not surprising to us. Since 2018 we have conducted undercover investigations at eight Petland stores and documented how Petland routinely hides puppies’ illnesses from consumers. Our puppy mills campaign has heard so far from almost 1,400 customers who purchased sick puppies from Petland.

Petland has a variety of lending practices that seem to target low-income consumers with payment plans that involve very high interest rates. The Petland credit card, for instance, has a 29.99% interest rate. People who purchased sick puppies from Petland stores have had to give up their right to speak about their claim, post about it on the internet, or report it to the Better Business Bureau before they could get reimbursement for veterinary bills. In some cases Petland wouldn’t compensate consumers even after their puppies died just a few weeks after bringing them home.

Such practices have led to multiple lawsuits against Petland in recent years. The Florida attorney general, representing 19 consumers, including six whose puppies died, is suing a Petland store and its owners for “a scheme to misrepresent” puppies with a variety of illnesses and congenital health problems using “deceptive” sales tactics and often high-interest financing. Earlier this year, our lawyers, in cooperation with the South Carolina firm Kidd Corvey & Simpson, LLC, filed a lawsuit against Petland and one of its franchises in Summerville, South Carolina, on behalf of several consumers who were allegedly deceived into purchasing sick puppies.

Consumers have filed similar lawsuits in other states where Petland does business.

The reason we’ve been shining the spotlight on Petland is that it is the only national pet store chain that still sells puppies, adamantly refusing to join the growing number of pet stores that are now making the switch from selling puppies to working with local shelters and rescues to adopt out pets. Petland not only continues to source and sell puppies from questionable dealers like Blue Ribbon Puppies, it also has put its considerable might behind battling our efforts in states and localities to end the puppy mills problem. Fortunately, the number of states and localities where Petland can sell puppies is shrinking, as a growing number of lawmakers crack down on puppy sales in pet stores—more than 370 localities and three states so far prohibit such sales, and the number is growing every day.

We are excited for the role we have played in bringing about this change through our work with states and localities, and through our annual Horrible Hundred reports. States are increasingly referring to our report to take action against problem mills. Recently, a Missouri court ordered jail time for Marlisa McAlmond, the owner of Cedar Ridge Australians, a mill that had appeared four times in our Horrible Hundred reports. According to court records McAlmond euthanized 21 dogs instead of surrendering them to the state’s Department of Agriculture to be re-homed, as she was ordered to do.

As happy as we are about this progress, puppy mills are a widespread problem and we have a long way to go before we win this fight. As consumers, you can do your part in ending this scourge. Pet stores that sell puppies are keeping puppy mills alive by acting as fronts for these operations that deny the animals in their care the most basic needs, including food, water and veterinary care. Please refuse to buy pets or pet supplies at stores that sell puppies and instead find pet stores near you that have taken our pledge to support animal shelters instead of puppy mills on our Puppy Friendly Pet Store list. Or text “puppy” to 30644 (message and data rates apply). It is easy to fall in love with a cute puppy and his soft eyes staring at you from a glass cage at a pet store. But as the Florida Petland case and the experience of so many other Petland customers clearly illustrates, bringing a pet store puppy home can often be more traumatic than satisfying.

Categories
Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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32 Comments

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No se puede permitir más abuso en la venta de los animalitos esto tiene que acabar ya

    • Parkers rainbow bridge animal rescue says:

      Our rescue has had to take an owner surrender 7 month Aussie Poo Due to medical issues from onset of purchase from petland that they could not afford
      It ended up being that the dog was passing out due to His heart stopping from having a 3rd degree blockage in his heart Which ultimately cost our rescue $6000 to place a heart pacemaker in this dog to save it’s life This is due to bad breeding
      this is the type of animal that you get from Petland
      please do not buy from any Petland or pet store they all purchase them from puppy mills

  2. Arlene taclay says:

    Its very cruel using sweet animals to get money,only good people that truly love all animals should work there,the dos/cats etc should be treated with much love & kindness,playtime/long walks,good food,the animals should all get adopted into loving forever homes with great parents or 1 parend

  3. LoveCats says:

    I have signed “stop puppy mills” petitions for more years than I like to think and yet they still exist. Considering all the ugliness and suffering around such mills it is indeed amazing that we are just now getting around to doing something about them even if too slowly.

    Not knowing any better a few decades ago I bought a puppy for my child from a store with similar sales tactics as Petland, long out of business. Anyway, the poor puppy had so many health issues including cataracts by age one year that unfortunately it had to be euthanized.

    We didn’t have internet back then and little official attention was put on animal suffering. After that, I set about educating myself about that “cute puppy in the window” but it would have saved my family so much grief had we only known then what we know now.

    The fact that the AKC continues to allow their organization to be used in this matter is astounding. Everyone, listen up. Adopt. If you just have to buy, then do NOT do so on-line. Seek out reputable breeders and only buy if ;you can visit and see where/how your new baby is living. But I promise adoptable cats/dogs make great companion animals. I’ve been doing that now for 40 years! My latest adopted kitty is walking across the keypad as I type! He’s beyond adorable, swear :))

    • Faith says:

      I got a dog from a pet store too, and they are no longer selling dogs.. When we got our minpin, he had worms, seizures, and he was very sick through the first year with us. He cost $400 to buy from that specific pet store. When I went to petland, they charge $3500! For an equally sick dog of the same breed.. wow.

  4. Judy says:

    What is horrific is that innocent puppies are suffering because of the practices of puppy mills…each of which should be closed down permanently because of the horrific conditions puppies are bred in… this should be enough to close them down but as long as people BUY these poor animals and there is a market for them they will sell them and millions suffer because of the choices humans make….

  5. Richardhalpern says:

    They are deceptive, even if you get a healthy puppy. Their
    “Lifetime” guarantee is a scam. They charge you for it, without telling the customer, it’s only valid IF you buy food from their store, and use their vets.

  6. Debbie Orze says:

    My daughter bought a puppy from Petland in Sarasota, Fl. She thought she was buying a Chiweenie no bigger then 10 lbs. She is 6 months old now and almost 35 lbs. We had a DNA test done because as she got older she looked more like a German Shepard. Sure enough she has10 different dogs in her line. Paying $5000.00 for a mutt is outrageous. My daughter has two boys which they’ve been waiting so long to get a family dog. She wanted a dog to take with them using a carrier. They don’t make carriers for BIG dogs. Not happy at all because they have to leave her home a lot.
    The papers she got on her from the store I’m assuming has incorrect information on her. Tried to get in touch with the breeder that is written on her papers and she never emails us back.
    What I am so upset about is that the amount of harm they are doing to families like ours. Not only did my daughter not get a small dog she was looking for. How does my daughter and grandsons give this dog back after having her for 6 months and falling in love with her. It would be so devastating. My grandsons love her so much. So does my daughter.
    but can’t do much with her because of her size.
    The extra expense also that now will cost my daughter. She has to fence in her backyard, hirer someone to walk her in the middle of the day, have her trained by a trainer because she is so strong and so active my daughter and grandkids at times can’t get control of her.
    I guess Petland is just into making their money and not thinking about their
    customers after they send them on their way home to fall in love with the puppy they bought.

  7. Denise M Cantu says:

    Shame on you and I will continue to spread the word. Just horrible

  8. Jeffrey Rogero says:

    The big victim is the puppy. The only way to stop puppy mills is to write your congressman and tell them that you will get be a one issue voter, and will not vote for them if they do not take action.

  9. Donna Podolak says:

    I have had two pet land puppies and both have been great. I had to put down my first one at 15 due to renal issues. My second one is now 11 and having a few age related issues but nothing until now. My dogs have been wonderful animals so even if some pet lands buy from puppy mills, mine have been great.

    • Janet Thomason says:

      Sadly, your dogs are the exception and not the rule when it comes to puppies sold at Petland. I’m so glad your dogs were/are healthy.

  10. Cher says:

    Here in Washington we have puppyland stores. Dogs are posted at 4500, but with the additional “charges” people are paying almost 10,000 for a puppy! This practice needs to stop throughout the entire US.

    • Melissa Foglia says:

      I think the minute you see Payment plan offered for a pet dont walk Run! If u are going to purchase a pet only buy from suppliers that another individual has had success using. Talk to people who have pets and where they sourced them.
      Otherwise if u dont do the reasearch it could end up being a sorrowful event.
      Consider adopting with a well known animal rescue. This exchange of money for animals is is similar to extortion.

    • Jennie Lyons says:

      I totally agree. No way will I pay $8,000 for a yorkie! Rip off. They should not be allowed to charge these outrageous fees!

    • Glenda S evans says:

      People just need need to look for puppies elsewhere. With no market they can’t sell the puppies!°°

  11. Chris Cromwell says:

    Terrible

  12. Anna Cooke says:

    Ms. Block, the puppy-friendly pet store list is a great idea. How do stores participating in pet adoptions sign up to be part of the list?

    • Blog Editor says:

      Thanks for your comment. Stores interested in becoming puppy-friendly must simply send a signed pledge to our Stop Puppy Mills campaign. Download the pledge and learn more.

      • Mary Elizabeth Ambery says:

        Just curious—if all they have to do is sign a pledge, how many Petland Stores are on the “puppy-friendly” list?
        In advance, thanks for your reply.

        • Blog Editor says:

          Thanks for your comment. About 3,000 stores have signed the Puppy Friendly Pet Store pledge and about 35,000 pets have been adopted through stores that converted to helping homeless pets instead of selling breeder dogs.

          • Cassie Tremant says:

            3000 Petland stores have signed the pledge?!

            • Blog Editor says:

              No, Petland would not qualify as a Puppy Friendly Pet Store because they sell puppies from puppy mills. The stores that signed our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores pledge are independent pet stores that have promised not to sell puppies. Puppy Friendly Pet Stores have committed to helping homeless pets in their communities instead of selling dogs and focus instead on offering pet services and pet supplies.

        • Glenda S evans says:

          Great question!

  13. Trevon Herring says:

    Just bought an alaskan klee kia here in WA from petland we thought it was a good price but turns out to be 10000, holy i wish more light is spread on this bc being a young couple this is going pretty tough stretch for us.

  14. Sharon Day says:

    I sign a petition last Summer —people were trying to close the Frisco, Tx. Petland. Nothing was done to close their doors; had X-employees talking about how the animals were mistreated. Some were sick & had no one to care for the ill. Good luck; these businesses should not excess! They keep puppy mills running😡

  15. Sherry says:

    We just visited Petland Plantation and when we asked how much for the aussiedoodles etc. they are charging $8,000 – $17,000 for puppies! We were in complete shock at the cost they are chraging for these dogs. I think they used to charge $1000-$3,000 and I think they may be taking advantage of the pandemic and price gouging. We of course did not buy any, we are adopting, but wanted to educate our daughter on what these dogs are being sold for.

  16. Natasha says:

    Hello! This story is heart-breaking! We purchased a dog at the Petland in Columbus, Ohio off Hilliard-Rome for 3k! We were assured he was 100% a mini-sheepadoodle. We started seeing traits that were not characteristic of that dog, nor did he look like one. We immediately called Petland who said they dont have anything to do with the sale of puppies, but to file a claim through a third party, and also they have a distributor who buys puppies from these horrible breeders. ALL A SCAM! So we called the breeder, and he goes, “Oh, he’s Shepard and poodle, some call them this and that.” Horrible. We asked him for a picture of the mom and dad… nothing! So then we called the claim company who told us he was the same. We said deliver papers and pictures. The third party company has refused to call us back. We purchased DNA tests and our puppy has 12 different breeds in him!! None sheepdog. He has a poodle and Springer spaniel as dominant and primary traits. If there is an attorney out here, please respond to: natasha.devries@outlook.com. We are looking to sue. When will Petland be shutdown?!?!?

    • Blog Editor says:

      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.

      You may also contact your state director using this easy online form for more help.

  17. Natasha says:

    And also our dog from Petland had Giardia and not received any vaccines before he was released!

  18. Rebecca says:

    After paying around $10k so far and my puppy (an adorable shih tsu) bought at Petland not only had trouble with fixing him but he has 16 teeth that need to be pulled that haven’t fallen out. 16! Was just informed surgery was not covered

  19. Ileana Borgese says:

    Lo único que pueco decir que son unos estafadores y mentirosos.Mi experiencia fue horrible .Por eso estoy demandando.

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