This week, Indianapolis became the 450th locality in the nation to prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. The passage of this ordinance also means that half of the 20 largest cities in the nation won’t allow puppy mill puppies to be sold in retail pet stores—a strong statement to those who profit from this cruelty.
Humane pet store laws at both the local and state level are having a noticeable impact on the puppy mill industry, with public records showing that an estimated 32,000 fewer breeding dogs are caged in U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed facilities than 10 years ago. As about one-third of puppy-selling pet stores have stopped selling puppies due to humane pet store laws, the average USDA-licensed breeding facility now holds approximately one-third fewer dogs. And we expect the industry to shrink even further when New York state’s law goes into effect, preventing more than 60 stores from selling puppies.
In the fight to end the puppy mill industry, it’s clear that we are winning, and the days of selling puppies in pet stores are numbered. Yet Petland—the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the U.S.—continues to double down on its controversial business model. The win in Indianapolis came just days after the Indiana Senate passed SB 134, a bill designed to strip cities of their authority to do exactly what the state’s largest city just did—enact a law that stops pet stores from selling commercially raised puppies. We’re confident we can stop this shortsighted, unpopular bill in the Indiana House of Representatives, but it will be a battle, as Petland seems to be putting all it has into insulating its three puppy-selling stores in the state from local jurisdiction.
Similar Petland-led legislation has also been introduced in Missouri, and we expect to see it elsewhere, too, unfortunately. These efforts to strip cities of their right to regulate puppy-selling pet stores are a direct result of our work. Petland can’t win in city halls, so it hopes to influence (often with campaign contributions) certain key lawmakers to choose business interests above all else.
What we find, however, is that state lawmakers routinely reject Petland’s efforts to stop local regulation of its stores, especially after we educate them on the major animal welfare and consumer protection problems posed by puppy-selling pet stores. For instance, SB 134 only passed by a narrow majority, with Petland losing votes it thought it had secured, and only after significant amendments were made, including one allowing 14 humane pet store ordinances already on the books to stay intact.
However, the new Indianapolis ordinance is a target of this legislation and no additional ordinances could be enacted, which is why we’re continuing to fight this bill.
This year, we’re not only making sure lawmakers know who Petland really is, but we’re also exposing the company’s disregard for existing laws. A Petland in Houston, Texas, is racking up citations from the city for selling commercially bred puppies in violation of the ordinance that went into effect earlier this year. And, in late 2022, a Petland store in Batavia, Illinois, received a notice from the Illinois Department of Agriculture that it was charged with violating the Illinois Animal Welfare Act for operating without the proper license and selling dogs at retail in violation of state law.
This disregard seems to be the new normal for Petland. In 2021, Petland’s San Antonio store received numerous citations totaling $42,000 for selling commercially raised puppies in violation of the local ordinance. Late last year, the Florida attorney general announced that she secured financial relief for Petland customers who were deceived and sold sick or dying puppies. An Orlando, Florida, Petland store was ordered to pay more than $200,000 in monetary relief to its customers and is permanently banned from selling any puppy who is known to be sick. The store is also prohibited from misrepresenting a puppy’s health, purebred status, purchase price or warranty.
We are up for whatever Petland throws our way, and we know that in the end we will prevail. We’ll continue to push for state and local humane pet store laws and won’t stop until puppy mills have nowhere left to sell and the cages where mother dogs are forced to give birth to litter after litter are finally empty.
You can take a stand against puppy mills in your community by contacting StopPuppyMills@humanesociety.org; we’ll connect you with our team and your state director to help you get started.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.