Emaciated puppies, a dead kitten and other horrific violations uncovered at Petland stores

By on November 17, 2022 with 10 Comments

As the holiday season approaches, now is an important time to remind your friends and family not to support pet stores that sell puppies and kittens. Not only can this spare them a lot of heartache, but it can also help change a system that has for too long profited off breeding animals without regard for their welfare. Our research has surfaced too many examples of unwitting consumers purchasing puppies or kittens from pet stores only to find their beloved new family member suffers severe, costly and sometimes fatal medical problems, often linked to the fact that they came from hideous puppy and kitten mills.

Our recent investigation of two Petland stores in Wichita, Kansas, found a sales clerk at one store trying to sell our investigator a lethargic puppy from an apparently unlicensed breeder. This was just the latest in a series of investigations where we’ve found sick puppies, often sourced from cruel puppy mills, and duplicitous sales tactics at Petland, which is the last national pet store chain to sell puppies. And families who have discovered their puppies purchased from Petland suffering from illnesses have sued Petland numerous times; just a few weeks ago, we detailed a lawsuit against a Petland store near Houston, Texas, that was filed after one family was assured they were buying a healthy puppy, only to find out he was diagnosed with a contagious parasitic disease and had to undergo treatment for months.

Now our team has uncovered more heartbreaking findings from inspection reports of Petland stores this year.

In Petland’s Overland Park Kansas store, also known as Pooches of Overland Park, Kansas Department of Agriculture officials found puppies with loose stools, poor appetites, or who appeared “lethargic and depressed.” One husky puppy who seemed lethargic and was not eating well wasn’t immediately seen by a veterinarian even after the Kansas Department of Agriculture requested it. Some puppies were trucked to a veterinarian in Texas instead of being treated by a Kansas vet—a stressful journey for a sick puppy to make alone. Having a local veterinarian on hand to treat sick animals in a pet store is simply common sense as well as state law. Even after the store and its owner were fined $750 plus a $200 reinspection fee for violations of the Kansas Pet Animal Act, the violations continued.

During at least three more visits, inspectors found issues with basic veterinary care, including puppies with signs of infections or internal parasites, and some underweight puppies with their ribs and spines showing. They found seven puppies with health concerns so urgent that they were required to be seen by a veterinarian within 24 hours; three of them were described by the state inspector as noticeably underweight with their skeletal structures visible, and one was so emaciated that he only had a body score of 1 out of 9, meaning he had no visible body fat at all.

A state inspection report of an Iowa City Petland store conducted last month found that a kitten died in the store after losing weight and appearing ill for at least a week before he was finally examined by a professional. The veterinarian prescribed medication, but by then the kitten was apparently too ill to be saved. Two days later, he was found dead in his cage.

These incidents are part of a sad, longstanding pattern of neglect, and these stories of animal suffering never get any easier to tell. But raising awareness is a key part of changing an unjust system. We will keep exposing the mistreatment of animals until they get the treatment they deserve.

You can help be a part of the solution this holiday season by buying presents for your furry family members at stores like those on our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores list, which don’t sell dogs or cats, or donating to a local shelter as a gift in a loved one’s name. If you’re planning to add a pet to your family during the holiday season, look first at a local animal shelter or a responsible rescue group, many of which are at or over full capacity right now. The holidays are a joyful time to give a home to a shelter pet; it’s one of the best gifts you can give. And by adopting instead of buying a pet from a pet shop, you are helping to create a more humane world for animals.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

Companion Animals, Investigations

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Cómo es posible que las autoridades permitan este tipo de situaciones los abusos y la crueldad deberían de ser castigados y más para empresas que se dedican a la distribución de estos animalitos no es justo que por bienes económicos estas empresas se enriquezcan vendiendo a estos animalitos cuando realmente no les interesa su bienestar

  2. Kevin Greenblatt says:

    Disgusting!!! Clean up your act pet land!!!

  3. Robin Reyna says:

    Yes I always believed in taking and standing up for these animals and everything because it’s right thing to think about their feelings and everything and always be the kind heart just like we show the kind heart back

  4. T. Adams says:

    First of all, the staff should be educated in the care and welfare of all the animal’s before they are able to sell them at pet stores. Also, there should be an Animal Vetrinarian business inside the stores too if they want to sell animals. That way if any of the pets are become ill they can be treated on site. It should be a law requirement if they want to sell pets.

  5. Poko says:

    Why hasn’t there been a class-action suit against Petland? Or a federal investigation? Seriously, who do you have to annoy to get some action done against this chain?

  6. Norma A. Renison says:

    Shame shame on you Petland stores and all the other unscrupulous factions that coop to capitalize monetarily at the tragic expense of these cogent and sentient defenseless animals. Your actions are beyond neglect; it is outright abuse! And while we’re on the topic here, what’s with the Fish and Wildlife administrators and the licensed veterinarians who supposedly have sworn ethical oaths to protect and serve animals’ welfare? How miserable and disgusting do matters have to continue to be before they consciously and ethically be a part of the solution rather than cowtowing to the crux of the problems? Too much, too little, too late, is just plain incompetency and lazy emotional intelligence gone awry, i e., get with it already!

  7. JOE says:


  8. Jeanette Townsend says:

    Manatee County Commissioners in Bradenton, Florida, passed an ordinance over a year ago to ban puppy sales that mainly affected the Petland stores. Petland was given a deadline to stop the selling of puppies. Petland filed a suit against Manatee County and now the new Commissioners believe it will be too costly to fight with them. Can you help? We have signed petitions to the commissioners but nothing seems to help. Can you get involved in our fight to close these stores down once and for all? I beg you.

    • Blog Editor says:

      Hi Jeanette, while the Manatee County commission looks very different than it did when they passed the humane pet store ordinance, and this is an uphill climb, we are committed to trying to head off a repeal. We ran this TV ad locally all through December. We also have done several media interviews calling on the commission to respect the humane majority.


    I bought my bassist hound from this Petland store. She has birth defects with her front leg and need’s special surgery if even possible. Petland needs to be more responsive to pet owners and help us help these poor animals.

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