Lawsuit seeks justice for family who purchased sick puppy from Texas Petland

By on November 4, 2022 with 14 Comments

UPDATE 11/22/22: The lawsuit has been amended with another complainant who claims she was sold a sick puppy by Petland Webster. Additional claims may be added to the lawsuit in the coming weeks if more potential plaintiffs come forward.

When Stephanie Gonzalez and her 7-year-old son went to the Petland store in Webster, Texas, they were drawn to a Boston terrier puppy they later named Tyler. In a lawsuit filed today against the Petland store and its owner, Ms. Gonzalez alleges that she was explicitly told by a Petland salesperson that the puppy was “perfectly healthy,” had been seen by a veterinarian in the store and came from the “top 2%” of breeders. The lawsuit also recounts how she was told that all veterinary care that Tyler needed would be paid for under Petland’s warranty, and how this made Ms. Gonzalez feel comfortable in paying the purchase cost of $5,000 for Tyler.

Sadly, Tyler was not healthy, the lawsuit claims. Almost immediately after bringing Tyler home, he began to show symptoms of illness, including diarrhea and lethargy. Ms. Gonzalez brought Tyler to a veterinarian, who diagnosed him with giardia, a highly contagious parasitic disease. The lawsuit alleges that the veterinarian who treated Tyler told Ms. Gonzalez that she had diagnosed Tyler with giardia while he was still at the Petland store, despite the fact that the Petland salesperson had not mentioned anything about the condition. In fact, the salesperson had told her the dog was “perfectly healthy.” In the end, Ms. Gonzalez had to bring Tyler back to the vet repeatedly to be tested and treated for the disease, which stayed in his system for many months.

Thankfully, Tyler has recovered. But the sense of Petland’s deception lingered, as Ms. Gonzalez later learned that, far from coming from a “top” breeder, Tyler actually came from a large commercial puppy broker called Blue Ribbon Puppies that resells puppies from dozens of different puppy mills. This facility has been linked to disease outbreaks among people who handled sick puppies from Petland stores and Blue Ribbon.

As sad and infuriating as Ms. Gonzalez’ story is, it does not surprise us. We have repeatedly seen the heartbreak caused when consumers purchase sick puppies from Petland stores, after being assured that the puppies were healthy and bred by responsible breeders. Our undercover investigations of Petland and consumer complaints reveal the same scenario time and time again: Petland sales staff deceiving consumers into believing the dogs they sell are raised humanely, backed by purportedly prestigious breed club registrations, vet-checked and guaranteed healthy by multiple purported warranties, which turn out to be worthless.

In reality, Petland stores regularly sell sick puppies obtained from puppy mills, including dealers who have been cited for violations of animal welfare laws. And while many pet stores around the nation have transitioned over to a more humane business model by no longer sourcing and selling puppies from commercial breeders, Petland doubles down on its outdated model by lobbying against such laws.

Fortunately, a growing number of Americans are becoming aware of, and raising their voices against, such practices. Some localities with Petland outlets have moved to prohibit sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

It is clear that Texas citizens care about this issue. With the passage of local ordinances in Dallas and Houston this year, every large city in Texas now prohibits the sale of puppies in pet stores. In October, New Braunfels passed its humane pet store ordinance, bringing the state total of local ordinances like this to 14. Last year, the Texas House of Representatives voted for a bill to stop the sale of puppies in pet stores statewide. That effort fell short in the Texas Senate, but we expect the issue to emerge again in the 2023 legislative session, and, for the sake of keeping dogs healthy and happy by fighting inhumane puppy mills, we’re committed to working for a win.

With this lawsuit, we hope Petland will be held accountable for the harm it has caused Ms. Gonzalez, and we hope that the chain will be deterred from harming other animals and families in the future.

If you or someone you know purchased a sick or otherwise unfit animal from a Petland store in Texas, you can contact the trial firm of Sico Hoelscher Harris LLP at 361-653-3300. You may also submit a complaint to us about any Petland store or other puppy seller by filling out our Puppy Buyer Complaint Form.

Ms. Gonzalez is represented by the Texas trial firm Sico Hoelscher Harris LLP, and attorneys in our Animal Protection Law department are assisting with the case.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter@HSUSKittyBlock.

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  1. Tom Soden says:

    All animals deserve respect and medical treatment to mail brain dead heir life

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto no es justo que vendan animalitos enfermos se supone que tiene que tener veterinarios no es justo que estas empresas se dedique a sacar dinero de animalitos enfermos

  3. M Leybra says:

    Adopt, there’s no reason to support an industry that uses animals by breeding & selling them. People who still patronize the ‘puppies for sale’ industry after all the year’s of negative publicity reg. puppy mills, have to learn the hard way

  4. Kari Taggard says:

    Would love to know how she found a law firm to take her case. We have a similar situation in California, purchased a puppy from a Utah breeder, and was promised it was healthy. Two days later puppy was hospitalized with Parvo. We know of at least 4 other puppies from this same breeder now who have become sick with Giardia or Parvo and 2 that have had to be euthanized.

  5. Amalia Sobalvarro says:

    I don’t understand why people keep buying dogs when there are millions of dogs out there in shelters and rescue organizations that need homes. Please rescue, adopt… SAVE A LIFE!

    • Gail Boyum says:

      We are/have beem in a super information age so why does ANYONE buy a living being from a store??!
      How can anyone not know about the horrors perpetuated on animals that go from puppy Mills to “pet” stores??

      • Tad Smith says:

        It isn’t just pet stores. Multi-multi-million dollar rescue facilities import heartworm positive dogs and sell them as heartworm free.

  6. Karin Erker says:

    Hilfe für die Armen kleinen Hündchen … stop die tierquäler und bestraft diese tierquäler …

  7. Kay Ward says:

    Our 12yr old Maltese mix passed away in early November unexpectedly from an aggressive blood cancer called HSA. Out of the blue. After Thanksgiving in Frisco we stopped to pick up some toys for our Cairn on way back home to East Texas. In the case I saw a Maltese and asked for a female to hold. Of course I fell in love immediately and we purchased her. On the way home she coughed once. The next couple days she coughed off and on. Took her to vet for her 4 day check and she was given a clean bill health and said it could be kennel cough just watch her. The next morning she was coughing ALOT….took her back to vet was diagnosed with kennel cough and given Clavamox. by 4pm same day she can barely breathe and has temp. Drove to vet who sent me to emergency vet 2 hrs away as we live in the country. Emergency vet does IDEXX PCR and X-rays. Puppies king has collapsed. Xray shows narrow trachea. They want $3500 every 8-12hrs to keep her and monitor her. I decide to take her home and do my best to nurse her back. Spent 24/7 weekend trying to keep her breathing. It was awful. I thought I was being punished. I just lost my Ruby in a horrible way and was I going to lose this puppy now? Found a new vet in neighboring town on Tuesday and took puppy. They said to stay the course. My 3yr Cairn then started coughing. Took both back Wednesday and both have kennel cough. Finally got PCR IDEXX back and it’s not only pneumonia but underlying is 2 bacterial infections and one is drug resistant. Did a breathing treatment and got meds for older dog along with more meds for puppy.
    Bought puppy/_Lilly from Petland Frisco Nov 30 and today is Dec 14th. It’s been touch and go for 2 weeks. Think we’ve turned a corner but we go every 2 days for breathing treatments. The medications have been brutal on both dogs. Trying to get them to eat when they feel lousy. I feel so guilty for bringing home a extremely sick puppy and putting my own other dog at risk. I was lied to and told I had a quality healthy pet when it’s obvious this poor baby was so sick.

    • Marla says:

      Hey Kay, an animal advocate let us know about this comment. Will you please either instant message Frisco’s Pet Project or Stop Frisco Animal Mill Sales, or you can share your story on Petland Victims Texas. We think we can help you or at least we will try.

  8. Tad Smith says:

    It is a multi-billion dollar racket. Dogs are considered “property” in most courts so they don’t award damages in most cases. Knowing this, the felons who participate in this type of crime aren’t worried about serious consequences. That’s why this problem doesn’t disappear.
    Lawyers can’t make much.

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