Petland Uses Puppy Mills

Jane Weaver of MSNBC writes:

After an eight-month investigation, the Humane Society of the United States accused Petland, the national pet store chain, of selling dogs bred under appalling conditions at puppy mills around the country.

While puppy mills aren’t illegal, they’re also not places where dogs are treated as anything more than merchandise—and the Humane Society says that the 21 Petland stores they investigated mislead buyers on where the dogs actually come from.

From Weaver’s article:

“They are buying from puppy mills where these dogs are not treated like pets,” Michael Markarian, an executive vice president with the Humane Society, told a news conference. “They’re treated like a cash crop, where mother dogs live in wire cages, sometimes stacked on top of each other in filthy, dirty, cramped conditions, where they receive little socialization or human interaction or exercise.”

Among the poor conditions cited, investigators found puppies in commercial breeders “living in filthy cages reeking of urine, with inadequate care and socialization,” according to the release. The Humane Society says dogs at the mills were found in cages with wire flooring so large that the puppies’ paws and even the paws of the mother dogs would fall through.

Petland did not return calls to Weaver about the allegations, but she notes that their website seemingly absolves them from corporate responsibility by stating that each store is independently owned and individually “responsible for choosing healthy pets offered to Petland customers.”

While that may be true, there’s no reason for Petland to offer such an unrestricted, hands-off policy to its franchisees. By way of example, this week Subway asked one of its franchisees to rescind a corporate-branded donation to California’s anti-gay “Yes on 8” campaign, citing that their agreement prohibits using “the Trademark in a manner that degrades, diminishes, or detracts from the goodwill of the business associated with the Trademark.”

So, uh, how come you don’t protect your brand like that, Petland?

“Investigation ties pet chain to puppy mills” [MSNBC]
(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ratty says:

    Pretty much every pet store uses puppy mills. Reputable breeders do not sell to pet stores.

    Please adopt, or look into responsible breeders in your area.

    • dieman says:

      @Ratty: Remember, theres also a ton of breeders who aren’t uppity or are trying to make an obscene profit on every dog, seek them out, they actually care about the hobby and the breed. Breeding for profit and a living (as many, many, many breeders try to) is appalling considering most people are just trying to find a friend, not a champion. Pet stores do well because they offer a product at the right price with no questions but “you wanted a puppy”. Some breeders interview every person and ask for so much money people decide its far easier to go to the pet store or the mini-mills. Fix how people look for pets by making it easier to do the right thing, not by admonishing them.

      • Wormfather is Wormfather says:

        @dieman: Yeah that’s totally a two sided coin there (was going to go for the double edged sword, but figured that’d be to harsh) When my wife and I were looking for a maltese (We found a lost one and took care of it for a few days until the owner decided they wanted it back. (can you belive the owner actually lost there dog one night, went to bed and then went to work the next couple of days before deciding to call the animal shelter. I mean it wasnt even our dog and we went around the entire neighborhood on two seperate days looking for its owner, hell the dog didnt have a collar and was matted down like no one’s buisness, oh and it had worms. I digress.)

        So she found this dog and after giving it back decided that that’s the dog she wanted and that was the end of the story. Well three different breeders regected us before we finally found one that we liked and liked us. Their reasons:

        1. We both had full time jobs
        Our dog is never alone when we’re at work he goes to PetSmart’s Day Camp and he freakin’ loves it there. As soon as we pull into the parking lot his tail starts wagging like a windmill.

        2. We live in an appartment
        Oh yeah because a 10 pound dog that is specifically recomended for people who live in appartments shouldnt be in an appartment. Furthermore we live in CONNECTICUT! Not like there’s a shortage of parks.
        3. The last person said it was the work thing but my wife is convinced they didnt like interatial couples.

        So yeah, we should have had an easier time getting a dog but the owner in the first story definitly should have had a harder time.

        Thanks for listening to my pithy story.

        • Ratty says:

          @Wormfather is Wormfather: I’m sorry they made it such a hassle for you. I would still rather they be overly selective in general rather than just hand them out.

          For my story about an easy cat: was at a PetLand for crickets (how topical!) and the cashier asked my dad if he wanted a cat. It was April 1 so we thought it was a joke, but she was serious, and just handed over a small polydactyl kitten. Cat had bad gas but was otherwise fine and just a sweetheart. Dad still has her, and it has to be 12 or 13 years later.

    • ThickSkinned says:

      @Ratty: It is not just puppies that are obtained through nefarious sources. Pet stores are to buy food and supplies only. No dog, cat, reptile, or bird should ever be bought from a pet store. Fish maybe, but I still would stick to a specialty store dealing only with fish.

      • Ratty says:

        @ThickSkinned: Oh, i know. All of my pets have been adopted from shelters or taken from craigslist from people who just can’t handle it anymore.

        ALL pet “stock” from pet stores come from puppy mills (or ferret mills, or hamster mills…), backyard breeders, and purchasing them supports these terrible practices. it isn’t rescue–it’s putting money into their hands and showing them there’s a demand for selling more of this stuff.

        And I hope more people realize this and consider shelters, rescues, and other adoption methods. They are picky enough to make sure the pets are cared for!

        • GoVegan says:

          @Ratty: Agreed! The only difficult thing about adopting a pet from the shelter is deciding which one to take. If I had lots of cash I would love to go into a shelter and say I will take em all.

          • zlionsfan says:

            @GoVegan: Cash and time or resources, heck yes. I try to avoid shelters as much as possible because I have just the right number of cats and I know I would want to take one every time I go … but my friends and I (one of whom volunteers at a low-cost clinic) are always talking to people about adopting from shelters, rescues and so on.

    • TVGenius says:

      @Ratty: As far as I know, no Petsmarts sell cats or dogs. Our local store has cats all the time and dogs on the weekends from our local Humane Society. Petsmart coming here and opening is just about the best thing that’s happened to our Humane Society, in terms of their support for them and especially in the number of animals adopted (and saved from euthanasia).

      • Ratty says:

        @TVGenius: The local PetSmart and petco both do adoptions on fridays and saturdays respectively, and it’s great for the local shelter. The PetSmart even brings in local breed rescues in addition to the regular Humane Society showings. I like getting my supplies when they’re in!

        However, there are plenty of other chains or smaller places like petland that do buy and sell puppies and kittens in their stores. I saw it all the time in Canada. And the petcos and petsmarts around here also sell a lot of live other animals–mice, reptiles, birds, etc.. they’ve become better over the years but that kind of animal milling (or with reptiles, capturing) needs to stop as well.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @Ratty: Yeah. I’ve always wanted a rat, but I’d only purchase from a breeder because the ones in stores are most likely just feeder rats >_<

          • Ratty says:

            @Oranges w/ Cheese: Just a tip: get a few same-sex rats, not just one! And you can look into local shelters or rescues. There are many. I got my two newest rats from our local Humane Society for a $10 per rat adoption fee. And they’re wonderful! Someone had sent in a pregnant doe to the shelter and she popped out a litter.

        • VigilanteKitteh says:

          @Ratty: The pet shop that I got Neko from, gets their kittens from a place called Village Kitten Rescue. Their dogs also come from a similar rescue society. It was an independent pet shop too, so not all small places get their pets from puppy/kitty mills.

          • Ratty says:

            @VigilanteKitteh: In those cases they are not selling pets, they are adopting out on behalf of rescues. My local PetCo and PetSmart also have cats from rescues for adoption for a fee and if you meet the criteria.

            Petland was selling the animals from a breeder. I am talking about breeders selling within astore. it’s a guarantee they’re puppy milled or from backyard breeders because a good breeder will not under any circumstance just sell dogs off in a pet store.

    • Piper0801 says:


      I tried both those routes but they all rejected me because I did not have a yard, I worked too many hours and I did not have enough money to pay for an emergency if it had happened. Keep in mind, I wanted a small dog (under 15 lbs). I went to Petland and got a wonderful pet that is treated like royalty and is perfectly healthy.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Ratty: What I don’t understand is how – with so many unwanted animals out there already – that people are ALLOWED to constantly breed their animals like this. I don’t care if its a purebred 5-time champion, there’s enough puppies and kitties already, spay your goddamn pets!

    • narq says:

      @Ratty: You could say duh. Did the Humane Society need 8 months? Just walk into a store and you can tell by the way the dogs look and behave. I adopt rescue animals.

      • gmoney says:


        Correct, PetSmart does not sell pets and won’t deal with mills – all of their adoptions are coordinated by local rescue shelters – kudos to them.

  2. Yankees368 says:

    Not surprising. Petland stores are DISGUSTING. If the store itself is presented that poorly to customers, imagine what we don’t see.

  3. oldtaku says:

    While this is pretty much exactly what you always knew and expected about Petland, it’s nice (in a horrible way) to have it confirmed.

  4. Mr_Human says:

    Petland responds to the report here:

    But it’s really not an adequate response to the allegations as much as a teardown of HSUS based on the corporate funded

    I don’t think they get it.

    • jwissick says:

      @Mr_Human: They are just expressing the fact the HSUS has no credibility. They are ultra extreme and no rational person cares what HSUS says.

    • Canino says:

      @Mr_Human: HSUS uses the “Humane Society” wording to make people believe they’re associated with your local animal shelter. They’re really a radical animal rights organization whose objectives are to destroy the meat and dairy industries.


      • Glamourdammerung says:

        @Canino: Do you have an actual reputable source for your claim? The “Center for Consumer Freedom” are a bunch of hacks and loonies, to put it kindly.

  5. djanes1 says:

    I liked that when I worked at Petsmart we did not sell dogs, cats, or feeder mice.

    • Gaambit says:

      @djanes1: That’s true. All the Petsmarts I ever went to brought in dogs and cats on weekends for adoption from the humane societies.

    • Anonymous says:


      Petsmart absolutely sells feeder mice. And feeder finches, and feeder rats, and feeder whatever other small animals one wants to buy there, and then feed to their snakes. My green tree python eats a delicious Petsmart zebra finch once every week or so. My ball python eats a delicious petsmart mouse or two every week. The whole “These are not for feeding your animals”! thing lecture they give every time I go in there certainly doesn’t stop me from buying them. Nor does it stop them from selling them to me every 7 days, despite them knowing exactly what I do with them.

    • ThickSkinned says:

      @djanes1: What about goldfish, guppies, and minnows? You know they are mostly used as feeder fish, don’t you?

      How about crickets? Did you have a problem selling customers crickets? I really hope you didn’t think the crickets were being taken home as pets. Or does your compassion only apply to the cute, fuzzy creatures?

      And what is your problem with feeder mice? What if I have a lizard or snake that needs feeder mice to survive? I have had several snakes in my lifetime and none of them would eat non-live food. The natural progression is pinky mice, feeder mice, rats, rabbits, and finally small children. Ok, I never got a snake to eat small children, but not for lack of trying. I had to get rid of two snakes because it was too difficult to find rabbits. If stores like Petsmart sold feeder animals I could still have my two reticulated pythons, Milo and Otis, whom I cared about very much.

      • djanes1 says:

        @ThickSkinned: Well, fish and crickets are a little different than mammals. I wouldn’t have really cared if we sold feeder mice, but I appreciated the thought. It did seem silly to pay 2$ more for a mouse bred to be a pet than for feeder mice from another store in town. I’m not really buying your sob story — if you live somewhere rural where the only pet store is a Petsmart you could have bred your own rabbits or found someone who did. They breed like, well, rabbits you know. Pretty much every store other than Petsmart sells feeder animals. I know this may be difficult, but if you can manage not bragging about how many small children your python can consume Petsmart will sell you them too. Either way these are logistics that can easily be considered before purchasing a pet; would you be just as surprised that a child outgrows a crib and needs a bed?

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @ThickSkinned: That’s odd – the only rodents my Petland sold were feeder rats / mice – all in a horrid cage in the back allowed to breed however many times they pleased. It was atrocious. I wouldn’t want to feed my snake a rat from that cage.

  6. laserjobs says:

    Why would anyone buy a dog, don’t you just go down to the pound a pick one out?

    • DrWebster says:


      And even if you’re hellbent on getting a purebred dog, there are “rescue” organizations out there for pretty much every breed that would be more than happy to match you up with a dog. The same goes for cats. There is absolutely no reason why a shelter shouldn’t be your first stop when picking out a pet.

      • MightyDwarf56 says:

        Though I agree that Humane Societies and Rescues are the way to go, Humane societies are far from free. So you are still buying a pet, just for less then at a pet store or a breeder. I really dont know what or if rescues charge for adoption so that might be an alternative.

        • Ratty says:

          @MightyDwarf56: You aren’t buying the pet, you’re paying for the board the animal was given, the shots, the spay/neuter, and for them to keep those abandoned animals in a shelter and not let them die. Not letting them go for free keep the shelters operational. Those animals were put there because people couldn’t (or wouldn’t) care for them and adoption gives them another chance at life.

          You could argue breeders are doing just that, but it’s not the same at all.

          • gertymac says:

            @Ratty: Shelter/Rescues also charge a fee as a way of proving that an adopter has the adequate financial resources to care for a pet. The best thing shelters/rescues can do to help the animal maintain a high quality of life is make sure it doesn’t end up back in the shelter because the owners couldn’t afford it.

            • Ratty says:

              @gertymac: That they do! For my two rats I got a few months ago they made us interview and ask us about how we would care for them and some other things. They also emphasised if we had issues to call or come by and we could talk about any problems we had with the pets, and that if need be we could surrender them within a month. I wouldn’t have, but they’re usually accomodating and out for the interests of the animals AND the owners which is ideal.

        • SisterHavana says:

          @MightyDwarf56: Rescues do charge for adoption, at least all the rescues I’ve known. The adoption fee covers things like veterinary care, shelter fees (some rescues pull from kill shelters and that still costs), boarding, spaying/neutering, etc.

        • dieman says:

          @MightyDwarf56: Humane societies generally have a fee that does not cover the cost of vaccination, screening, health check, neuter/spay, etc. The fees along with donations provide facilities and personnel to intake any animal, no questions asked. Rescues and no-kill shelters do not generally have such a mandate, and intake based on criteria rather than have to kill animals themselves.

        • GoVegan says:

          @MightyDwarf56: This is true but oftentimes the shelter fees will cover the animals shots and spaying/neutering. Also, the cost of buying a purebred animals is often many times higher than the adoptions fees charged by a shelter. I even know of a shelter close to me that offers free spaying/neutering clinics once a year.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @MightyDwarf56: I volunteer at a shelter on the weekends – all the animals are $75 – for spay/neuter, shots, vet checkup and a microchip.

      • Mistrez_Mish says:


        I completely agree. I’d like to take this opportunity to mention Animal Haven: []
        They’re an awesome no kill shelter and they have a lot of dogs & cats in need of a loving home. I found my furry little buddy at their Flushing, Queens branch.

        Irresponsible animal breeders, just trying to churn a profit with no concern for the animals are inhuman and evil. We found out that my dog had been used as a breeder and pretty darn neglected by her former owners. Sure they made her look pretty (a Pomeranian – had to make her presentable for customers), but she has major problems with her kidneys now thank to those assholes. :(

        Shelters are they way to go!

    • littlemoose says:

      @laserjobs: Yeah, I’ve never understood that. A friend paid several hundred dollars for a purebred husky puppy, and while she is adorable, I didn’t understand why he didn’t just adopt a puppy or young dog instead.

    • mzs says:

      @laserjobs: Around here the shelters charge $320-$480 for a dog. Then you need to pay all the extra costs for the vet in addition to that. The worst was the spam and phone calls from one of the shelters. The shelters use that money to stay afloat. They structure it as largely a charge for the care of the dog before you got it.

      In the end one of our neighbors gave us a cat when their daughter went to college and that is how we saved a chunk of change.

      • smirkette says:

        @mzs: If you go with the SPCA, you’re also ensuring that the animal you adopt is suitable for life as a pet–the animals that get brought in from the shelters go through a screening process to ensure they’ve been properly socialized before they’re shown to potential adopters.

  7. kmw2 says:

    If you’re buying from a pet store, chances are that cute little pup originated in a puppy mill somewhere and has the health problems and genetic defects to prove it. Please, please, please, people – go to your local shelter first, or if you must have a purebred find a reputable breeder. Save yourself the heartache of a puppy mill puppy and help shut the miserable business down.

    • backbroken says:

      @kmw2: I agree totally with going to the shelter. Of course, how do you know the dog you are getting from the shelter wasn’t mill-bred and therefore has the same problems?

      Anyway, I agree…starve the puppy mill system of cash and it will die.

      • Ratty says:

        @backbroken: Even if you are adopting a formerly milled dog, you’re not giving the breeder any money for it and you’re giving the dog a new lease on life. And that is important.

  8. Corporate_guy says:

    You complain about this, but what happens when they can’t sell a dog? I would assume they put them down after a certain age so they are always selling puppies.

    • DrWebster says:


      That’s the dilemma with pet stores. Your heart goes out to the poor animals, and you want to take one home so it won’t suffer in a store any longer. But by buying the animal, you’re allowing the pet store to stay in business (and, in a way, telling the pet store owner that what they’re doing is OK). In the long run, unfortunately for the animals in the pet stores, you’re still best off going to a shelter or breeder.

      (I can’t stand to walk by pet stores in malls, it makes me want to cry.)

      • gertymac says:

        @DrWebster: Exactly. Not to sound cold hearted, but there are a certain number of pets needed homes and there are a certain number of people looking to buy/adopt. Those numbers are never equal and some pets will have to be euthanized because of it.

        In the long run, it’s better for everyone if business can be shifted away from pet stores, puppy mills, and backyard breeders. It would cut the amount of animals being created and therefore cut the number of animals needing to be euthanized.

        So, even though the adorable puppy you see in the pet store window today may not find a home, by NOT buying it you are helping prevent more puppies from suffering the same fate.

    • tc4b says:

      @Corporate_guy: So, basically, they’re holding mistreted puppies for ransom. Nice.

    • johnarlington says:


      I worked at a pet store when I was in high school. We had two sources of puppies. Drop offs that we’d sell for $50 – $100 our breeder. Now the owner of the pet store swore up and down that it wasn’t a puppy mill, but what kind of breeder offers a dozen different breeds. When the puppies started showing up with genetic defects, then it was obvious that he had been using a puppy mill. To his credit, after the numbers of dogs showing up ill and with genetic defects increased, he stopped carrying puppies.

      When puppies didn’t sell, the price would be lowered until someone would buy.

      All of the kittens that we sold were drop offs.

    • Ratty says:

      @Corporate_guy: Given enough time and non-sales, trhe breeders will have to scale back or stop entirely. A lot of the ones from stores wind up in shelters.

    • bvita says:


      Haven’t you ever been to a Taco Bell? Notice that we haven’t seen the chihuahua for a while?

  9. ryatziv says:

    Way to bring a irrelevant biased view of prop 8 into the story!

    • GoVegan says:

      @ryatziv: I enjoyed that little snippet. I am not gay but I could care less if 2 consenting adults wish to get married. Proposition 8 was nothing more than a way to legally discriminate against a minority. If a church chooses not to marry certain people, that’s their choice. Its just sad to see our government telling us who we can and can’t marry now.

      • trk182 says:

        @GoVegan: Its just sad to see our government telling us who we can and can’t marry now.

        The government tells you you can’t marry a 9 yr old girl too…DAMN THEM!!!! Go BYU!!

    • HooFoot says:

      @ryatziv: I agree–please leave non-consumer politics off the blog. There’s no reason to open the Prop 8 can of worms when it has absolutely nothing to do with pet stores or puppy mills. It’s distracting and only incites flamewars in the comments section.

    • PixiePerson says:

      @ryatziv: I thought it was entirely appropriate. The point was to show another company very recently being proactive about its brand by regulating the franchises. I would imagine Corporate Subway does not allow any political donations to be official Subway donations. Letting your brand do that is ridiculous — you damage your brand no matter what wins.

      In the same way it damages *all* Petlands for any Petland to be caught using puppy mills. Controlling your brand is generally pretty important to corporations — sometimes it’s all they really have.

  10. humphrmi says:

    We got lucky, we wanted a Standard Poodle and happened to notice one in a puppy store. We assumed that it was a mutt from a mill, but were surprised that they had AKC papers for the dog, including breeder info and lineage.

    The sad part was that the dog had caught kennel cough at the store before we bought it; fortunately we negotiated with the store owner and got complete medical coverage until a licensed vet declared the kennel cough cured.

    In the end, our story turned out great. We got an AKC purebred Standard for around a grand, the puppy store owner spent easily $600 on vet bills in the first three months, and now he (the dog that is) is perfectly healthy and happy in our home.

    But we were very, very lucky. This sort of thing almost never happens in a pet store, and we would probably never try going that route ever again. The pet store owner was a complete sleazebag.

    • Ratty says:

      @humphrmi: AKC papers do not mean the puppy was bred from a good breeder or that it has a quality genetic line. AKC papers don’t really mean anything. Most puppies in a pet store for sale will advertise they are AKC registered.


      AKC is no guarantee against an awful backyard breeder.

      • lincolnplacelovesyou says:

        @Ratty: the akc makes all of its money on factory breeders, selling “wholesale” registrations for $25 each. no good breeder sells dogs through pet stores. you’ve got a puppy mill dog.

      • humphrmi says:

        @Ratty: We met the breeder.

        • Ratty says:

          @humphrmi: If they sold in the pet store they were a backyard breeder if they weren’t a puppy miller. Anyone who cares about their animals (as in, breeders worth anything) won’t even use a store as a front for their litters.

    • Anonymous says:

      @humphrmi: You wanted a “Standard Poodle”???

      I realize I’m not the bar when it comes to common (and I use that word loosely) sensibility, but isn’t wanting a specific breed of dog akin someone saying “I’d really like a white/brown/black/yellow friend and ONLY that kind of friend”?

      I find it appalling you had predetermined the breed of animal you wanted and went out of your way to “verify” how inbred it was.

      I find that evil. You perpetuated the practice of breeding for profit when there are perfectly healthy animals that need a home lest be destroyed. You can see how those 2 are orthogonal.

      Good luck with your puppy. Hopefully you treat him/her well.

      • Anonymous says:

        @veronykah: @ZahavahVinton:

        There are plenty of reasons for wanting a particular breed. Researching a breed means that you can anticipate how big the dog will get, how much it will bark, how much exercise it will need, what its temperament would be around babies, other pets etc. You would never get a pitbull terrier if you had a toddler at home for example.

        It’s great when you have a yard big enough to suit any dog/enough time to rehabilitate any temperament dog that you find in pounds, but I reckon a lot of people with young kids/working/tiny yards etc don’t have that luxury and need to choose a pup that fits in with their lifestyle. It’s definitely a better option than abandoning an overgrown pup 6 months later because he was more hyper/grew more/was more aggressive than you anticipated.

    • sunny143 says:

      Not only do papers mean nothing but lineage means nothing. Only DNA proves the mother and father. The AKC rarely requires DNA proof. They just assume that you are truthful when you register a litter of puppies. I have only heard of the AKC requiring DNA proof when the breeder has had a lot of complaints or something is sketchy with the registrations. @humphrmi:

    • veronykah says:

      @humphrmi: I adopted my AKC pure bred bull terrier from the Brooklyn animal shelter in NYC. He came with papers and everything from the owner who dropped him off, he was $165.
      He was certainly a puppy mill dog though, after doing some research into the kennel he came from. I also met with a lot of breeders, joined online bull terrier groups and even went to the Westminster kennel club dog show a few times.
      I can unequivocally say, NO REAL BREEDER would sell their dog to a pet store. NONE.
      No real breeder would fly a puppy to you without meeting you.
      No real breeder sells dogs on the internet.
      Real breeders genuinely CARE about the dogs they breed. They stay in touch with the people they sell dogs to for life. They take dogs they sell back ANYTIME in the dogs life if the owner can’t or won’t keep them.
      If you are interested in a pure breed look at their breed clubs page, get to know the breeders, go to dog shows.
      Pet stores are for impulse buys, and dogs are NOT something someone should buy on a whim.

  11. Kevin says:

    No, no, no. They’ve got it all wrong. You don’t use the store puppy mill; that releases their canine flavoniods too early and you end up with stale puppies by the time you get them home.

    To ensure puppy freshness, keep them whole til you get home and then use your own puppy mill just before serving.

  12. mike1731 says:

    I belong to a rescue organization specializing in Bichon’s. We have been innundated by breeder rescues this year as when the economy sours, breeders think nothing about taking surplus dogs out and shooting them. Fortunately, our group has been able to get many of these dogs.

    Still, the costs of bringing these dogs (particularly the breeding females) back from the brink is something horrible. Dogs come out with splayed feet from walking on wire floors their entire life, they are not socialized, and health ailments are just ignored.

    Not to lob rocks at anyone who unknowingly buys from a pet store. We bought our first dog that way years ago, and it was only later we discovered what really went on. Far better to buy from a reputable breeder directly or from a family breeder where the dogs are kept in home and infrequently mated. These dogs are far better socialized, adapt better to homes, and are less prone to accidents.

    If you’re interested, here is a link to Small Paws Rescue (the Bichon group we work with) that talks about breeders and has information on what they’ve seen through the years.


  13. mellisn says:

    photo is for a different petland (petland discounts–local NY metro chain)

    I tend to believe HSUS and support them with my wallet.

  14. squrl says:

    I used to work at a Petland store about ten years ago. A big concern should be also (besides the puppy mills, which is true) that they don’t really train the employees or “kennel technicians” who work with the pets. Also the cage space for the dogs is not enough. I was actually let go from Petland for walking a dog – a 40lb chow who needed a real outdoor walk!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. I worked there for over 2 years in High School. The first thing in our “training” was how to answer the question: “Do the puppies come from puppy mills?” The kennel techs we had at our Petland came in high most of the time. One of them had a drug history that included cocaine.

  15. meechybee says:


    Anyone who has ever been to a Petland will tell you that product come first and live things, well they’re somewhere around here,..

  16. Sanveann says:

    Honestly, I’m shocked that this would really surprise anyone in this day and age. What good breeder would EVER send such little puppies away from their mamas to live in a cage and be sold to the first person to walk in with enough money in their pocket?

    Unfortunately, if you have a particular type of dog in mind, waiting for that type of dog to show up in rescue or for a reputable breeder to have a litter takes time … and people nowadays just don’t have any sense of delayed gratification. They’d rather head down to Petland and buy a puppy NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW than get on a waiting list.

    Ironically, most pet stores actually charge as much or MORE than reputable breeders do. I’ve even seen some online stories selling very obviously poorly-bred Maltese puppies for as much as you would pay for a finished champion! But people like to think “you get what you pay for,” I guess … sadly, in this case, what you pay for is generally a lifetime of behavior issues caused by poor socialization, and health problems caused by indiscriminate breeding.

    • mike1731 says:


      Finding specific breeds in rescue is much easier than it used to be. Sites like list many of the rescue dogs, and include pictures and biographical details as known.

      • "I Like Potatoes" says:

        You can also just google the breed and “rescue” (like “Boxer Rescue”) and you’ll get quite a few links.

        We just got a purebred boxer from our county shelter about 6 months ago. Granted, he was already about a year and a half old, but what a wonderful dog! They picked him up as a stray and after the set waiting period, they put him up for adoption. Fully house trained and great with the kids. We had to pay the adoption fee (I think it was less than 30.00) and the mandatory neuter fee. They won’t let any dogs leave the shelter unless they are spayed or neutered. He also had bad kennel cough and some intestinal worms that we had to give him meds for, but now he’s the happiest (and most loved) dog in the world. Sometimes I feel bad for whoever lost him, but seriously people – spend the 50 bucks (or less) to get your dogs microchipped! Our dog was wearing a collar without any tags, either. How much effort does it take to get an I.D. tag made???

  17. juri squared says:

    Now I hope they go after Happiness is Pets. It turns my stomach every time I see their giant “PUPPIES!!!” sign.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @jurijuri: There’s a store here called “JUST PUPPIES!” And I’m like *shudder* every time I drive by.

    • stranger says:

      @jurijuri: @changed my name:
      Exactly. The only thing preventing anyone from rescuing their breed of choice is impatience (or occasionally geography) and stupidity. I personally find it unconscionable to buy a dog at all when there are so many who have been abandoned, abused, or lost out there.

  18. odhen says:

    I had a friend who worked at a Petland here 5 or 6 years ago and she quit for this very reason.

  19. Triborough says:

    You seemed not to mention that this is not the same Petland that can be found in the tri-state area which I don’t think sells dogs.

  20. GoVegan says:

    I applaud Consumerist for covering issues that concern the treatment of animals. A lot of people unknowingly purchase dogs from puppy mills posed as a reputable store. Many times, due to the conditions the animal is bred in, dogs from puppy mill can experience terrible health problems for the rest of their lives. Save a life and some cash buy getting your puppy from the local animal shelter. Also, if you are looking for a specific breed, there are a lot of pet rescue centers that specialize in certain breeds looking for loving homes to place their animals in.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well – I doubt this will change many opinions, especially when I don’t have the time to properly register to comment on this story (I’m supposed to be writing an essay right now!)

    I myself work at a Canadian Petland store, and while I obviously cannot comment on other stores I have not personally seen – I know that our own store does NOT deal with puppy mills. I wouldn’t work there if we did. I know in the canadian stores we offer a year of health insurance with the purchase of a puppy (3 months with the purchase of a kitten), would we really be insuring animals who (if from puppy mills) would have a predisposition to bad health?

    Also, our store has its own vet who closely monitors the health of our animals.

    What I am trying to get at is don’t judge an entire chain based on a few bad apples. The article itself says that each store is run by a franchisee that is responcible for getting the puppies. Our own breeders are those who enjoy the act of breeding dogs, maybe looking for an extra stream of income (who can blame them here), but do NOT want to deal with the public – so they go to us.

    I would not be working there if I wasnt totally confident in the health and happiness of all of our animals, and I hope that whichever store does follow such horrific policies has the book thrown at them…hard and repeatedly.

    I’ll be watching this thread and I’ll try to answer any questions people pose – but obviously I cannot say too much…corporations usually don’t take kindly to workers taking place of the media representitives.

  22. jwissick says:

    I couldn’t care less about the HSUS. They are dishonest and not driven by a desire to help. HSUS is scum. HSUS has tried to limit the choices of American consumers, opposing dog breeding, captive reptile breeding, conventional livestock and poultry farming, rodeos, circuses, horse racing, marine aquariums, and hunting.

    HSUS and PETA share the same goals. No meat. No dairy. No animal agriculture. Period.

    HSUS even has connections to ALF, the Animal Liberation Front. ALF is widely known for its firebombs and arson attacks against innocent people.

    Don’t abandon the local Humane Society animal shelters in your own community – they’re still doing their commendable work as always. Humane Society shelters are not connected to the Humane Society of the United States and they receive no funding from the HSUS.

    • GoVegan says:

      @jwissick: Also there are much better organizations to support out there like that seem to be more careful with their spending compared to organizations like HSUS in my opinion.

    • tc4b says:

      @jwissick: How is the HSUS connected to the ALF?

      • Glamourdammerung says:

        @tc4b: Besides in the imaginations of the “Center for Consumer Freedom”? Unfortunately, this drivel is copypasta for a rather…interesting industry lobby group.

        I do find their complaints about “limiting consumer freedom” to get a sick animal kind of amusing in a “point and laugh” sort of way.

    • domesticdork says:

      @jwissick: Not defending the HSUS’s tactics or anything but:
      convential (factory) farming, rodeos, circuses, and (sometimes) horse racing are all incredibly cruel. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see those things done away with or at least changed.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    Whatever you do, DON’T put your puppy mill next to your pepper mill on this Thanksgiving’s table. Because you know that drunken uncle will grab the wrong one and wave it over everyone’s plate in spite of vociferous complaints. Followed by shouting, recriminations, fisticuffs and bitter, bitter tears. Until the police show up and the smell of mace drives everyone outside, blinded and crying. And fighting.
    Yeah. The holidays.
    Can’t wait. Ho freaken’ ho.

  24. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    When I was 13 my beloved dog died, and my parents, quick to find me a replacement, bought me a Samoyed puppy from a local pet store in the mall. She was lovable, cuddly, and spirited, but at about 3 months old, she began to display odd behavior: barking at corners and walls until she was hoarse, walking directly into door jams, vomiting up her food. The vet was stumped. When her back legs became paralyzed at the age of 8 months, the vet ordered some x-rays and informed us that our dog had a large brain tumor and had to be put down.

    Soon after, we discovered the pet store used puppy mill dogs and it was immediately shut down. However, I cannot convey how horrible it was to watch such a lovely animal suffer as she did. My parents regret rushing out to a store to buy our dog, but they didn’t know any better then.

  25. resonanteye says:

    At my studio every fall we do a fund raiser for a local no-kill shelter, it’s this weekend actually. apt timing, that.

    also I take foster dogs. I had a lil guy that had been used in a puppy mill, it was so sad. poor little guy. he’s fine now.

  26. Robert Isbell says:

    antoher reason to avoid buying a companion. I promote adoption 100% of the time. I never buy a pet, and I will never promote breeding them for profit, ever.

    too many breeds are overbred at this time anyway, and there are too many good companions awaiting homes at animal shelters, animal rescues nationwide to warrant giving anyone money for breeding one.

  27. OletheaEurystheus says:

    Im not a dog guy, but when it comes to cats I have never gotten a cat that wasnt a stray or in the case of my two mainecoons, pets who had to be adopted to keep them out of the shelters.

    There are just SO many pets out there who need homes that you dont have to go to a pet store.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @OletheaEurystheus: All my cats, and all my parents cats have either been strays or come from the pound.

      I just brought a new kitty inside and she’s taken over the house!

      • OletheaEurystheus says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese: Same here, we just brought one in last friday who my coworker found wandering outside lost and upset. Vet says he is about 2 months old and other than a bit of fleas is in perfect health if a bit starved and dehydrated.

        Torments the hell out of the Mainecoons since he is so young and they are 2 and 4 years old, but its obvious after a few days that they love the attention he’s giving them since they both groom him often.

  28. HalOfBorg says:

    Both are dogs are ‘pound puppies’.

  29. HalOfBorg says:

    uhhhh………. ‘our’ dogs even.

  30. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    You could always support the ASPCA instead.

    • Pipes says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese: The ASPCA is ONLY in New York, although they try and make it seem like they provide money to shelters nationally. When you give money to the ASPCA, your local shelters get nothing! Give locally!

  31. HalLaius says:

    You know, I’m as cold-hearted as 15 years in the fire service can make someone, but I can’t stand to enter a pet store that sells puppies, it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. My family has had two labradors in the last decade or so, from good breeders, and both were wonderful dogs, even if we lost the first to melanoma at 6 years old.
    My girlfriend has a cat, rescued from the ASPCA shelter, absolutely beautiful, jet black male, we’re so glad we have him.
    Incidentally, he was at the shelter for over a month, and she got him in mid november, is it true that shelters stop giving out black cats around halloween?
    Last spring, a stray gave birth in an exterior wall of my building, and we saw three kittens, a few days later, it was down to two, so, with the help of PAWS in CT, we trapped them, spent a month or so socializing them (let me tell you, the resident big male was far from pleased at first) , and now they are happy, affectionate, spayed, and living with my gf’s aunt and uncle.

    • theblackdog says:

      @HalLaius: I checked Snopes, the practice of restricting adoptions around Halloween seems to be true, though depending on who you talk to you’re going to get different answers. I could easily see people adopting cats for their costume/haunted house/etc. and then abandoning them.


      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @theblackdog: Its a regional thing as well.
        I know we adopted a male black cat who had been in the shelter for 6 months because at first he was ill and then halloween came around.

      • OletheaEurystheus says:

        @theblackdog: actually its MUCH worse than that. People sometimes get the black cats to do really evil things with them and kill them thinking they are all cool.

        Mind you people who actually practice witchcraft would never in a million years do something as cruel as that. Its usually punk kids who think they will be all cool and devil worship on halloween.

  32. hardtoremember says:

    We got our first dog from Petland. Neither of us ever heard of a puppy mill. When we started dong more and more reading on dogs we learned.
    We just saw this on our local news last night too!
    Then we saw the local SPCA on our news. For all the foreclosures people were leaving their dogs in their abandoned homes!
    Just as disgusting!
    Now we have two more dogs both from shelters and both wonderful dogs that needed some love and some work.
    If I could I would open a dog sanctuary.
    I will never buy another dog.

  33. kevjohn says:

    “…the Humane Society says that the 21 Petland stores they investigated mislead buyers on where the dogs actually come from.”

    Aside from the cruelty to animals bit, isn’t this just flat out fraud?? How long until we see a class action suit by people who bought pets there?

  34. calquist says:

    As Bob Barker would always say: Spay and neuter your pets!!

    Seriously tho, adoption is the only way to go.

  35. PierreGrzybowski says:

    Here is an HSUS video of the investigation:

  36. PinkBox says:

    This isn’t really something new… Petland has been well known for selling puppy mill pups for a long time now. :/

  37. VikingP77 says:

    I have known this for years!!! My brother worked at a pet store at a mall and they constantly had outbreaks of parvo. They had sick pups in the back at times that couldn’t be shown to the public. Pet stores are gross and I told him that everyday. He eventually quit thankfully. I always wondered who the low-lifes were that were buying pets in there rather than going to the local shelter!

  38. stranger says:

    Look- you should never, ever buy an animal that doesn’t come directly from a reputable breeder. Almost all major petstores get their animals from mills as described above… these animals live in appalling conditions without socialization or necessary nurturing, and the effects are terrible.

    I was the 4th person to try and raise my Shiba Inu, and we didn’t get her until she was 4 months old. She came from a mill/petstore, and wasn’t bought until she was 2 1/2 months old.

    She had such social and anxiety problems (seizures/biting/overall behavior) that her original owner was considering having her put down (at three months old!) because he thought the dog was a lost cause… don’t get me started on him!

    The night I brought her home (her 4th in a month and a half), she was so distraught she was having siezures. Naturally we thought she was epileptic… turns out they were anxiety induced:

    She was never nurtured by anyone, not a person, nor even by her mother, until she was 4 months old. The way I see it: she came from a puppy mill, but she may as well have been abandoned upon birth…

    To this day it’s evident she missed some necessary cognitive development, but she’s still my baby.

    • stranger says:


      Strike that- you should never, ever buy a dog period. There are plenty of rescue organizations and shelters out there with wonderful animals from whom you can adopt for free. To shell out for a specific breed is to promote a eugenics experiment run amok, and if you’re buying a dog because it looks a certain way: just do the animal a favor and buy a handbag or a nice watch instead. They’re living creatures, not accessories or status symbols.

      A purchased dog is the byproduct of a very particular kind of vanity IMHO, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of dog that will die in shelters today because they were too old/sick/or the wrong color or whatever…

      Even if you want a pure bred dog, you can find fantastic specimens of almost any breed via dedicated rescue organizations- if they’ll let you take one… and if they don’t let you take one of their dogs, you might want reconsider getting one at all… if there’s a reason people are unwilling to trust you with an animal that no one wants, you probably shouldn’t have one at all.

      • Sanveann says:

        @stranger: I have to disagree. Sometimes, the particular kind of dog you want — especially if you want a small dog or a nonshedding one — is nearly impossible to find in a shelter or rescue. (I know, as I spent many many years volunteering with a rescue.)

        When my husband and I finally decided to get a dog, we settled on a Maltese after babysitting a friend’s. We had several reasons: We thought a small dog would fit best with our lifestyle, we wanted a nonshedding dog (because my husband is allergic), and we wanted a gentle-natured dog that would be good with cats and children (we had the former and planned to have the latter).

        We looked in rescue, but most of the dogs that were available had either severe behavior problems or were extremely elderly. (I wasn’t surprised, because at my own rescue, small dogs were generally adopted almost immediately.) We weren’t prepared to take in a pet that we might lose in a couple of years, and we as first-time dog owners, we weren’t in a place to adopt a dog who needed experienced owners.

        Eventually, we adopted our beloved Macy from a very reputable breeder. She had had two litters but had trouble the second time, so her breeder had her spayed and, after her pups were adopted, started looking for a good home where she could get more one-on-one attention. Macy (who has sadly passed away since) was the best dog we could have ever asked for. She was the perfect choice for our family, and we were very blessed to have the years with her that we did.

        Anyway, to reiterate my point … rescue is awesome, and I certainly recommend that people always look there first when seeking out a pet, but there are some times when what you’re looking for just doesn’t exist in rescue.

  39. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    in other news, Walmart buys from china

  40. Urgleglurk says:

    THIS is NEWS? Since when? This has been common knowledge in animal-friendly circles for years. Doktor Pet Centers were heavily criticized for this years ago, too.

    PetLand and its ilk depend heavily on impulse buying behavior. That is exactly the WRONG reason to adopt any pet. Do your homework first, then adopt! If you don’t want a rescued or shelter pet, buy from a respected breeder. Expect to pay top dollar. Get a contract. One dog with hip dysplasia will cost you far more than paying for a genetically sound, healthy pup up front, for example.

    Puppy mill pets are poorly bred and frequently carry genetic problems that would have been bred out of any sane, rational breeding program ages ago. They are also frequently infected with diseases such as parvo. They are NOT a bargain for anyone, except the mill owner.

    I have been in a rescue organization for over 10 years and I support the ASPCA and local rescues/shelters. I do not support the national HSUS. Local Humane Societies are NOT affiliated (in most cases) with the HSUS.


  41. Brazell says:

    Oh c’mon how can you oppose Puppy Mills when they produce some cute lil guys.

  42. theblackdog says:

    *sigh* Reading this and the stories about people who has successfully rescued dog makes me just want one more, but I know I am not ready to have one.

    • Sanveann says:

      @theblackdog: That’s what will make you a good dog owner one day … being smart and realistic enough to know when it’s not a good time to have one! I wanted a dog since I was a kid, but I didn’t get one till I was married (at almost 27) and a homeowner. Our baby girl was definitely worth the wait, though!

  43. carlogesualdo says:

    There are good reasons to purchase dogs, but the reputable breeder comment cannot be stressed enough. With certain breeds come certain attributes, not just coats that don’t shed, but also particular temperaments and trainability.

    I have no such needs, so my two came from the pound. I will say there are some backyard breeders that sell to pet stores in the mall, but backyard breeders are a different set of problems from puppy mills. They should not be considered the same as “reputable” breeders. Usually, they happen to have a purebred animal, maybe registered, and they breed them as a hobby. Or they’ve never bothered the expense to have their animals spayed. Some pet stores will even have “half-breed” puppies. These probably come from backyard breeders.

    The thing about puppy mills that makes it such a bad thing to support stores that support them is not so much the puppies themselves, but the animals being used to breed the puppies. Most times, the puppies being sold are fine. But the mother dog is cooped up in a cage just big enough to move around in, and has one litter after another until she can’t have any more. The daddy dogs don’t even do that well. They’re caged and walking around in their own poop, brought in just long enough to do his thing, then it’s back to the cage. Even human prisoners get an hour a day for exercise and get to come out for meal times. Maybe this is a pretty extreme example – I saw it on Animal Cops. Reputable breeders treat all their animals well. Not just the ones that will make money immediately.

    Puppies are cute, but I’m sticking to the pound. My little Jack Russell Terror and my Schnauzer-mystery are good enough.

    • HaddenAcarnan says:

      @Sanveann: @carlogesualdo: Our family bought our first dog, a puppy, from a shelter. Her momma was a Katrina rescue who ended up pregnant by the time our local shelter had her (and we live in Chicago, long trip!). While one dog is more than enough for us, we were very, very pleased with our shelter expierence, and would adopt from ours again. We know that we are supporting a charitable, family run shelter that has been in our area for 30 years, and that we are not creating demand for puppy mills by buying a pet in a pet store. My advice? Adopt from a shelter, or buy from a reputaible breeder if you have special breed needs (i.e. low allergen).

  44. Anonymous says:

    I worked at the Humane Society for 2 years in high school & I hate them I watch them put down litters of pups because they had kennel cough, not even giving them the chance to find a home. Kennel cough cost the shelters nothing to treat. Have you seen the president of Humane Societys home? She’s living the good life. All the money donated for Katrina just for them to put most down? Help local NON KILL shelters in your area. I don’t support ALL Petlands but the one in my area is top notch, most of my family has dogs from them and they are healthy happy dogs. Plus they give the added bonus of making your experience a good one by providing training, unlike the Humane Society that will grill you on if you have a fence or not and send you home with a dog and no guidance. Then watching them come back 6 months later only to be put down. Where ever you get a dog your job is to love and provide for it. Please educate yourself on what it take to raise a puppy!

  45. Smd75 says:

    Petland in my area (flagstaff, az) closed (yay!). I asked and was explicitly told they do not support puppy mills. Then a friend of mine working there quit because she was discouraged to find a couple dead dogs in almost every shipment they received. She even said later they do get the dogs from mills… It’s pretty terrible. : Why lie to your customers?