In recent years, we’ve made incredible progress for dogs in puppy mills by raising broad awareness of their plight and by advocating for the passage of local ordinances and state laws that prohibit the sale of puppies in pet shops.
Fighting this progress are those who benefit from selling dogs in pet stores. In state legislatures throughout the country, Petland is currently pushing bills that take away city councils’ right to pass any law that limits the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. Petland is the only national pet store chain in the U.S. that still sells puppies, and the chain is also the largest retailer of puppy mill dogs.
We believe that lawmakers should think twice before aligning with Petland. Not only is this company linked to puppy mills, deceptive sales tactics and predatory puppy loans, it has also demonstrated little respect for the law.
Following our investigation at a Fairfax, Virginia, Petland store in 2019, local police executed a search warrant. They found 32 dead animals in a freezer, and ultimately convicted a store manager there of animal cruelty. Petland closed the store a day after our investigation was made public. Yet Petland seems to be tolerating other crimes that are being committed by their franchisees.
Houston, Texas, enacted an ordinance to stop the sale of puppies in pet stores; this law went into effect in January of this year. But the local Petland store continues to sell puppies. The City of Houston has sent animal control officers to the store multiple times and issued several tickets to Petland for violating the local law. The first case is going to court this week.
This isn’t the first time a city has struggled to get Petland to comply with an anti-puppy mill ordinance. The Petland in San Antonio, Texas, also kept selling puppies, despite a local ordinance that made such sales unlawful. That Petland finally did come into compliance, but only after the city issued fines totaling $42,000.
A Petland in Illinois also continues to sell puppies despite a state law that prohibits the sale of puppies in pet stores. This particular location acquired a dog dealer license as an attempted workaround to allow the store to sell puppies. The Illinois Department of Agriculture moved to revoke the improper license and charged Petland with violating the Illinois Animal Welfare Act. The matter is pending in administrative court.
Petland’s franchise documents explicitly say that their franchisees “must comply with all federal, state, and local laws.” If these words are to have any meaning, then Petland needs to rein in stores operating in ways that blatantly disregard what the laws say. Such rogue behavior does a disservice not only to the people who have fought to pass humane pet store laws in their communities, but the dogs who continue to languish in cruel puppy mills just so that stores like Petland can make a buck.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.