The Humane Society of the United States is working with an Ohio-based law firm to provide legal assistance to three Ohio families in lawsuits alleging Petland, Inc. engaged in fraudulent and misleading sales practices and sold the families sick puppies. The Humane Society of the United States tracks hundreds of complaints from buyers of sick puppies sold by pet stores each year, one of whom is a plaintiff in these lawsuits. Ohio law firm Holland & Muirden filed the suits today.
The plaintiffs’ stories allege deceptive sales practices at three Ohio Petland stores:
Rosemarie Haddad, a 70 year-old widow, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and degenerative disc disease. She had a broken foot, could not walk independently and was on a fixed income with little to no disposable income. Yet, when she contacted Petland in Carriage Place, Ohio, to inquire about a Rottweiler puppy, a Petland employee offered to have someone deliver the puppy to her home, complete the purchase and enroll Haddad in financing for the puppy even on her limited budget. The complaint alleges that despite Haddad’s clear physical and financial challenges, the Petland employee pressured Haddad to complete the purchase, with the promise of large discounts and a healthy dog. This resulted in Haddad signing an agreement that she did not understand and which she later learned committed her to paying $7,500 for the puppy, plus interest.
The puppy almost immediately started having bloody diarrhea in Haddad’s home, and less than 24 hours after the sale, she recognized that she was not physically in a position to meet the needs of the puppy and reached out to Petland to start a return with the help of her neighbors. Petland staff insisted on a letter from a veterinarian as well as a letter from Haddad’s physician stating she could not care for the puppy before allowing the return. Haddad obtained these documents, but Petland did not return her follow up calls. Six days after the puppy was delivered to Haddad’s home, her neighbor drove the puppy back to the Petland store. Instead of issuing a refund, Petland staff accused the neighbor of criminal animal abandonment and threatened to call the sheriff. Petland has not reimbursed Haddad for any of the costs related to the sick puppy she was sold.
- Macey Mullins was told by staff at Petland’s Lewis Center, Ohio, store that the Jack Russell terrier puppy she saw on their website was healthy, vet-checked and came from a small-scale, responsible breeder. She purchased the puppy, who she named June, for $4,600. But, according to the documentation Mullins received from Petland, Petland had acquired the puppy from Blue Ribbon Puppies, a puppy mill broker. The broker had sourced the puppy from a high-volume breeder. When Mullins contacted the store days after the purchase with concerns about June’s excessive thirst and urination, staff assured her this was normal puppy behavior. But, seven months after purchase, June was hospitalized with bilateral renal dysplasia. She could no longer eat or drink without an IV. After spending thousands in hospital bills and consulting with veterinarians, Mullins made the gut-wrenching decision to humanely euthanize her beloved pet. Petland has not reimbursed Mullins for her vet bills.
- Robert and Chrystal Rivas purchased an English bulldog puppy for $3,500 from a Petland corporate-owned store in Chillicothe, Ohio. The puppy, Louie, has a severely underdeveloped pelvis and hip dysplasia which has resulted in limping, lameness and apparent pain with extended walking or running. None of these issues were noted in the health records provided by Petland, despite their reassurance he had been checked by a veterinarian. To accommodate Louie’s needs, the Rivas family has moved twice, first to a ground-level apartment and now to a single-level home where Louie no longer has to climb stairs. According to the complaint, Louie has also recently endured seizures, which causes stress on the whole family. In addition to ongoing care, Louie may eventually need expensive surgery to alleviate his pain.
“Welcoming a new puppy should be a time of joy and celebration, but for these families, Petland only delivered heartbreak,” said Mark Finneran, Ohio state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Ohioans deserve better than being duped into paying thousands of dollars for a sick animal. Today, we begin the process of holding Petland accountable for the pain they’ve caused these victims.”
Plaintiffs hope to hold Petland accountable for these alleged deceptive practices that hurt consumers and animals alike. Individuals who have purchased a sick or otherwise unfit animal from a Petland store in Ohio are encouraged to contact Holland & Muirden at 330-239-4480, or submit a complaint to the HSUS via the Puppy Buyer Complaint Form.