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New Victims Come Forward

Customers describe heartbreak and expense from puppy purchases at Petland

  • Bailey was purchased at a Petland in Texas. She was dealthy ill and hospitalized a week and a half after she was brought home.

  • Bella was purchased at a Petland in Montgomery, Ala. A month after she was purchased, she was diagnosed with juvenile papillary squamous cell carcinoma, a very aggressive cancer. She had to have part of her jaw removed and required radiation therapy.

Scores of new complaints from heartbroken puppy buyers are streaming in to The Humane Society of the United States after "Animal Planet Investigates: Petland" premiered May 17. Did you purchase a sick puppy? Tell us your story »

In the one-hour special, Animal Planet followed HSUS investigators as they tracked down puppy mills that supply Petland stores. The exposé also featured tragic stories from several buyers who discovered their puppies were ill.

After the airing, The HSUS began receiving additional complaints from across the U.S. about Petland puppies with severe congenital disorders and diseases like parvovirus and pneumonia. At least two people reported the awful news that their puppies died the day after they were purchased.

Did you purchase a sick puppy? Tell us your story »

"The stories are heartbreaking," says Stephanie Shain, senior director of The HSUS's puppy mills campaign, who was interviewed for the special. "But as heartbreaking as the reports are, we are encouraged to know that the show will help warn potential puppy buyers never to buy a puppy from a pet store or from any seller whose operation they haven't personally visited and screened."

What they're saying

Excerpts from some of the heartbroken families' stories include the following:

"I can not begin to describe the heartbreak and emotional turmoil we went through with the death of [our puppy ….] It was horrible on our entire family. Weeks of unanswered and unreturned phone calls from the Petland owner, crying kids, crying mom, no puppy at Christmas time..."—Stephanie, El Paso, Texas

"I bought my beautiful little Havanese puppy, took him home for five days, and fell in love with him. He became ill on the fifth day with vomiting and diarrhea, was hospitalized, diagnosed with Canine parvovirus which was incubating in the puppy when I purchased him, as confirmed to me by the hospital. He died after five days of treatment for this terrible and highly contagious virus. We are heartbroken."Janet, Bronxville, N.Y.

"Petland told us she was from a good breeder, we even had her certificate of registry, and that there were no genetic problems or health problems. The vet prescribed Mindy drops and ointments to take several times a day, but it wasn't working and her left eye was looking worse, so we took her to a specialist. She needed surgery right away that cost us $2,500. They saved her eye, but now she has monthly appointments and medications that come to about $250 a month, she will need these treatments for the rest of her life."—Christina, Tucson, Ariz.

"Normally, I would NEVER buy from a pet store, but I went to [a Petland store] to purchase bird food for my brother's birds every few weeks, and Little Red was in one of those tiny cages ... I watched her grow until she could no longer sit upright in the cage. I couldn't leave her there; she looked so sad. Within a few days, she developed a limp. She had bilateral hip dysplasia. In fact, according to the vet, she had the worst dysplasia he had ever seen in all his years of practice. Both hips were completely disarticulated. Surgery was not an option due to the degree of malformation of both the hip sockets and heads of her femurs. The vet said there was no way the breeder didn't know this condition was present in his dogs."—Melissa, Poteet, Texas

"I had asked time and time again if the dogs today are from puppy mills and the employee expressed over and over that their company may have received puppies from mills back then, but DO NOT deal with any form of puppy mills today. This was assured to me after explaining my previous history and concern with Petland. … Frustrating and expensive is what this clearance puppy has been to our family. We will do the best we can, but none of it is surprising to me any more!"—Amy, Park Ridge, Ill.

"Sadly I learned a hard lesson. I had heard from people before tell me, 'Oh, don't buy from pet stores,' but I felt like 'Oh no, my husband did business with [the pet store owner], and he assured us he buys from breeders' ... I guess you just don't expect to be lied to. Everything said in the Animal Planet Investigation was a lot of the same things he told us. I'm very sickened that he would cover up where the dogs really came from and make up lies."Christina, Tucson, Ariz.

"It was determined that she [the dog] had genetic deformities of her stomach and digestive tract. Harleigh was miserable, and she was wasting away to mere skin and bones right in front of our eyes. We finally received her AKC papers from Petland (after months of phone calls and fighting) and discovered after some research that she came from a puppy mill run in Amish country here in Ohio. We had been assured that she came from a reputable breeder before we purchased her. We had a long battle with Petland, and finally recovered $1,000 of our original money. Obviously, that was not enough to compensate for the pain and suffering Harleigh endured and the heartbreak our family experienced watching her go through it. The awful conclusion to the story was having to put down our beloved girl to end her suffering, she was only 9 months old."Joseph, Lorain, Ohio.

"I was looking through her paperwork, and was shocked to see that Petland had sold me a sick puppy. Her papers from the time she got to their store shows a very sick puppy. She had yeast infections in both of her ears, runny nose, tapeworms, and coccidiosis. She was on medication the entire time she was there for the parasites. They kept re-treating her because they were not clearing up. Another customer had purchased her and returned her within days stating that she was 'sick' and 'not right' … She was purchased through the Hunte Corporation … I know it is far too late for us to receive any compensation for our Maddie, but I would still like to share her story to let people know what Petland is doing. Please stop them. I hope my Maddie did not suffer and die for nothing."April, Clovis, NM.

"She has to take medicine for the rest of her life to control the pain. Medications run approximately $75 to $100 at a time. I am angry that my pet will never be totally 100-percent and will never reach her full potential."Barbara, Montgomery, Ala.

"It's just not fair to spend so much money on an animal that you take in and it becomes part of your family, just for them to suffer because they are being overbred in horrible conditions. It's completely unethical, and they need to be shut down! … Petland owes us our money back! But more importantly, they owed us healthy pets—but we will never get to know what that is like." Crystal, McHenry, Ill.

"I bought this little Cairn puppy from Petland. Within a week and a half, she was deathly ill. ... She was dehydrated, running a high fever, and had to be put on an IV catheter. I went to Petland that day because of their 'guarantee,' and they told me that it would not be honored because I did not go to their vet, which is many miles from my house and not in a very safe part of town. So, Petland would not cover the charges. After several days of hospitalization, I was able to bring the puppy home. My cost of that hospitalization was $686, and that [was] out of my pocket." Rebecca, Austin, Texas. 

The HSUS urges consumers who have purchased a sick puppy or who want to report a puppy mill to share their concerns with The HSUS at humanesociety.org/puppymillstory.



Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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