An unmarked van with no back windows pulled up behind the Petland store in Novi, Michigan. “We still gotta go back to Illinois to pick up more of these [expletive] yipping dogs,” the delivery worker said as he threw a bottle in the truck, which landed with a clatter just inches from cages holding several dazed puppies. The puppies were unloaded and handed to Petland workers. Some remained in the truck: Their journey still wasn’t over, as they were promised to other pet stores. Paperwork showed they came from states known for puppy mills, including Iowa and Missouri, many hours’ drive away.

The transaction was just one of many disturbing scenes our undercover investigator witnessed as a kennel worker in summer and early fall of this year at the Novi store. As our just-released investigation report details, the investigator’s hidden camera also documented sick puppies, puppies with birth defects, dangerous conditions and improper care. After studying animal transport documents and reviewing footage from the store, our researchers concluded that the store was supplied by puppy mills, some of which have appeared in our Horrible Hundred reports for disturbing animal care violations.

Undercover footage at the Novi Petland store showed puppies with wounds, hacking coughs, nasal discharge or bloody stools. Other puppies showed signs of congenital defects, such as abnormal masses, soft spots on their skulls and other disorders. Instead of being treated for these conditions or placed in homes where they could receive special care, some of these dogs were instead sent back to the puppy mills where they were born.