Police in Fairfax, Virginia, announced yesterday that they have charged two former managers of a Petland store with animal cruelty on the heels of an undercover investigation we released in April. Our investigation disclosed a pile of dead rabbits in the store’s freezer, and Petland employees admitting on camera that sick rabbits are left to die rather than receiving veterinary care.

We tipped off the authorities before our investigation aired on television and in other media, and they paid a surprise visit to the store where they found 32 dead pets – one puppy and 31 rabbits – in a freezer. The store quickly closed down after Petland, Inc. revoked its franchise agreement.

The investigation of the Fairfax store was among a series that the HSUS has done over the past year to expose just how badly this national chain, which continues to source and sell puppies from puppy mills, treats many of the animals in its care. Of the seven Petland stores we have investigated, dead animals were found in the freezers at five. In the other two stores, our employees were unable to access the freezers.

Last week we released our investigation into a Frisco, Texas Petland store, where our investigator found a dead rabbit in the freezer, as well as puppies being mistreated and suffering from ailments such as persistent vomiting and diarrhea, breathing problems and seizures. Instead of promptly bringing severely ill puppies to a veterinarian, we found Petland staff force-feeding them and administering ad hoc treatments in a back room, sometimes for more than a week.

Your response to these investigations has been tremendous. In the wake of our most recent undercover video, more than 8,000 animal lovers called Petland’s corporate office in Ohio. The video of last week’s Frisco, Texas, investigation has been viewed on social media almost 200,000 times, and about the same number of people have signed our online petition urging Petland to stop selling puppies, rabbits and kittens in all of their stores.

But despite the evidence against the Frisco store and despite the fact that the Frisco store owner was cited for violating the local animal code by law enforcement authorities, Petland continues to deny the findings of that investigation. Frisco Animal Services even posted a press release confirming that agents had visited the store a number of times in response to our findings, and required the owner to take a number of sick animals to a veterinarian for treatment. We will continue to post updates if any charges are filed in that case.

Many of you have asked what else you can do to help. First and foremost, we recommend never purchasing any puppy, rabbit or kitten from a pet store. Responsible breeders don’t sell to pet stores because they want to meet the families who are taking home their animals, and shelters are also filled with wonderful cats, dogs and rabbits looking for homes. If you’ve purchased a sick puppy at any pet store, please let us know. We collect these complaints to use for potential litigation and to support law enforcement action or local policy changes as appropriate.

If you’ve worked at a problem pet store, please email our Stop Puppy Mills campaign at stop-puppy-mills@humanesociety.org. If you wish to call the Petland corporate office and politely request that they stop selling rabbits and puppies, please call 833-976-1404.

We are working to pass laws that prohibit the sale of commercially-raised puppies in pet stores, and we have already been successful in passing such laws in the states of California and Maryland and in nearly 320 localities. You can sign up as an ally in this fight and continue to follow our social media pages and this blog for updates. Together, let’s work for the day when pet stores can no longer profit from animals they treat like products, without an iota of compassion and care.

Tell Petland to stop selling puppies and rabbits