On December 11, we released the results of our shocking undercover investigation at two Petland locations, one in Las Vegas and another in Kennesaw, Georgia, where our investigators found several sick puppies and a dead puppy in a freezer. When we started the investigation, we were familiar with the issues at Petland: since 2006, our Stop Puppy Mills Campaign has received complaints about more than 1,300 sick puppies purchased there. Even so, the response we have seen from former Petland employees, Petland shoppers and customers of the store since we released the investigation has been mindboggling: within a week and a half of its release, we have witnessed more than 100 new complaints against the store pour in.

The complaints are linked not only to the two stores we investigated, but to scores of other Petland stores across the country. Here are just a few examples:

  • A buyer from Florida’s Orlando East Petland said that as soon as she brought her puppy home, she noticed a horrible cough. She took the dog to the veterinarian right away and was told the dog had pneumonia, and would have died within the next 36 hours, had she not brought the animal in for treatment.
  • A buyer from the Wichita, Kansas, Petland said that a puppy was vomiting when the family brought her home from the store. Petland had claimed that its veterinarian had given her a clean bill of health, but when the buyer took the dog to her own veterinarian, she was diagnosed with giardia, an intestinal infection, and subsequently with other infections. The buyer reported that the dog also has very weak, brittle bones and had fractured her leg recently, requiring surgery.
  • A buyer from the Dunwoody, Georgia, Petland said that it became necessary to take a new puppy to the veterinarian for an emergency checkup three days after bringing her home because she was barely breathing and was coughing. The veterinarian said that the dog was so sick, she might not survive the night.
  • A buyer from the Overland Park, Kansas, Petland said that their 12-week-old husky was first diagnosed with giardia, then went blind. The buyer was told by an eye specialist that the dog needs a $4,000 surgery and will never be able to see again and will be on medications for the rest of her life. The dog is now only five months old.
  • A buyer from the Fairfield, Ohio, Petland said that their puppy had a seizure on the second night in her new home, and the emergency veterinarian said that she would have passed away had the family waited for even another hour before bringing the dog in. When the buyer called Petland, she was asked to bring the puppy back and get a new puppy. “I was upset and told him I’d never take a puppy to him so he can just let it die,” she told us.

[Read full investigation report: Petland, Inc.: Sick puppies, heartbroken families]

In addition to dozens of puppy buyer complaints, we’ve heard from many ex-employees of Petland stores, who have verified that it was not unusual for puppies in the store to suffer from breathing problems, seizures and diarrhea, and sometimes die.

Pet store puppies are often sick because most of them come from puppy mills, or large-scale brokers (resellers) linked to puppy mills. Puppies from multiple breeding operations are often bunched together on broker trucks, where they can spend several days in cramped cages on their way to pet stores across the country. Once they arrive at the stores, they sometimes spend weeks or even months in yet another small cage. These unhealthy and crowded conditions can result in one sick puppy infecting many others.

Our investigations, as well as interviews with former employees of many different pet stores, have also found that at many puppy stores, sick puppies are not immediately taken to a vet, but instead are medicated by kennel staff based solely on their symptoms, without any diagnostic testing. This can lead to dogs being incorrectly diagnosed and medicated improperly.

Complaints about sick pet store puppies are so common that many cities and towns have responded by passing bans or restrictions on the sale of puppies in pet stores – more than 290 localities to date have such bans. But Petland is actively fighting these bans by backing legislation in several states that would prevent localities from enacting these laws. The pet store chain has been going state to state, trying to convince lawmakers to pass bills that would strip local governments of the right to regulate pet stores, and also to preempt any laws already on the books. While Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and a few others have rejected these un-American attacks, the legislatures in Arizona and Ohio have voted to protect pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs. On Dec. 28, the outgoing Michigan governor vetoed a Petland-backed bill that would have prohibited localities from banning puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

If you purchased a sick puppy from Petland or any other seller, we want to hear from you. Please contact us by filling this online form.