Many Americans turn to pet stores when looking to bring home a new puppy. Unfortunately, by doing so, consumers may be supporting seedy operations known as puppy mills. This very topic was highlighted during last night’s episode of Animal Planet Investigates: Petland.
Viewers are introduced to a Humane Society undercover investigator named “Mike” who has the daunting task of getting into large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities that allegedly supply Petland. During the investigations Mike wears a camera and microphone and claims he is looking to purchase dogs for his small scale breeding operation.
Over the course of two weeks Mike uncovers numerous violations and inhumane practices including crowded cages, moldy bowls filled with green water, and other unsanitary conditions. He even comes across an owner who confesses to killing healthy dogs in the past because she didn’t like their looks.
Petland firmly states that the company does not purchase animals from puppy mills yet Mike was able to draw a clear connection between the retailer and the mass breeders.
“In our Animal Planet Investigates specials, we are committed to providing viewers with a raw and unrestricted access to crucial animal issues,” says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “It’s our responsibility–however horrifying as it may be–to raise questions about the practice of mass dog breeding and to question whether hard profit is put before the welfare of animals.”
The show also follows the story of families affected by Petland’s alleged involvement with puppy mills—the expense both monetarily and emotionally that was endured after unknowingly purchasing sick puppies from the store.
Petland customers brought a lawsuit against the retailer alleging that Petland knowingly violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) along with consumer protection laws by misleading consumers across the country into believing that the puppies sold in Petland stores are healthy and come from high-quality breeders. In January 2010 a federal court issued a ruling that the lawsuit could proceed. A trial date has not yet been set.