If you walk into any Petland store and ask about buying a puppy, it’s likely your salesperson will assure you that Petland’s puppies come only from high-quality breeders who don’t keep their dogs in small cages, stand among “the top 5% of breeders” in the country and are inspected by at least one, if not three, different agencies or entities. It’s also likely that everything you hear would be nonsense.
That has been our experience repeatedly in our investigations of numerous Petland stores, most recently when we sent an undercover investigator with a hidden camera into two different Petland stores in Wichita, Kansas, in July.
We’re exposing the results of the investigation—the “Petland scam” and the puppy mill cruelty these stores support—with TV and social media advertisements in Wichita. We’re asking residents to urge their city council members to support a humane pet store ordinance that would end the sale of puppies in pet stores.
Petland sales personnel in Wichita were quick to assert that their puppies do not come from puppy mills. In Petland Wichita West, a salesperson told our investigator that breeders who supply puppies to the store are not puppy mills and are typically inspected by the store’s owner, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by the state of Kansas and often by the American Kennel Club. A salesperson at the other Petland Wichita store made similar claims.
“We only get them from USDA-certified breeders or professional hobby breeders,” the Petland Wichita West salesperson told our undercover shopper. “I’m actually the person who goes and picks them up on Mondays now.”
He added that the dogs live “on ranches” and aren’t kept in cages. He further added: “Our owner […] goes and meets all the breeders herself.” But he previously related that he picks up the puppies in Missouri, at a broker-like pick-up location. It’s not clear if he or the owner ever visit all of their breeders’ properties since many are out of state.
In fact, as we have shown in previous investigations, Petland Wichita has purchased puppies from large-scale puppy mills where dozens, if not hundreds, of breeding dogs are kept in cramped, wire cages. At least one of the two Wichita Petland stores even obtained some puppies from Beauchamp’s Puppy World, a Missouri facility repeatedly cited by the state for poor conditions and ailing dogs. Beauchamp’s Puppy World has appeared in five Horrible Hundred reports on problem puppy mills.
The Petland Wichita West salesman showed our shopper a visibly frightened and listless mixed-breed dog selling for $1,800. Paperwork caught on camera shows the puppy was not a recognized American Kennel Club breed (meaning it’s unlikely the AKC would have inspected the breeder), not from a USDA-licensed breeder, and not from a Kansas-inspected breeder. The breeder, in fact, was listed as a “hobby” breeder from Ohio, a designation increasingly used, it would seem, for suppliers who are likely unlicensed and uninspected.
When our investigator asked another staff member in the Petland Wichita West store and a salesperson in the Petland store on East Kellogg Street about financing options for puppies, employees at both stores seemed befuddled about Petland’s interest rates and finance plans.
“That [Petland Wichita West] employee told me that there’s three companies the store uses for financing, and that she only recommends the Petland credit card. She said one of the other companies can have APR [annual percentage rate] up to 194%, and said the Petland credit card is 29% APR,” our investigator documented in field notes. On the video, an employee said some of the options “I personally don’t like,” stating one of them charges an “insane” APR.
Confusing, sky-high financing can harm lower-income shoppers, who may be stuck with absurd finance payments for a puppy mill dog for years to come, making it even harder to afford pet food and veterinary care. The inability to financially provide for a pet is one of the top reasons pets are relinquished to shelters. The per capita income in Wichita, Kansas, is under $30,000, well below the national average.
The fact that Petland must resort to such sales and financing tactics is not surprising. The market for puppy mill puppies is shrinking as the public learns more about where pet store puppies come from and how poorly they are often treated. That’s why five states and more than 430 localities have already passed laws to end the sale of puppies in pet stores. These laws allow dog lovers to choose from a variety of more humane sources, such as animal shelters, rescue groups and home breeders. New York is poised to become the sixth state to pass such a law, and based on what we’ve just documented, Wichita should be the next city to do so.