by Daelyn Fortney
Categories: Animals.
Photo: HSUS video screen capture

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.

  • Whoever…

    Who even goes to a store to buy an animal?
    Oh yeah, ignorant people do!

    With millions of abandoned animals waiting to be adopted for free and some people choose to buy an animal instead!

    Besides, mutts are much more resistant (genetically speaking), more intelligent and gentler than purebreds – this from my experience at the local animal shelter where I volunteer.

    Pet stores only care about profit! What else did people expect?

  • georgina0912

    Whoever, you are right. Ignorant people buy animals from pet stores. That is what my husband and i did when we got our Aussie.

    We love the little guy. He and my other dog (a shelter dog who was on death row 9+ years ago,) plus my two cats, and two birds are my “kids.” But i just have one thing to say: if 9 years ago i had known what i know now about puppy mills i would not have bought my Fritzy from “Debbie’s Petland”.

    Yes, i know, believe me i feel terrible, and that more than explains all the health issues he faced when he was under a year old, but at the same time i would not change a thing that brought Fritzy to our lives because he is just an innocent guy, so loving, and honest. However, we know that going forward, every bird, every cat, and every dog will come from a shelter. That does not change the fact, what we did, but now we know better. We will do what is right next time (not that i am looking forward to that even though my dogs are 9 and 10,) but i totally get you.

    • Whoever…

      Georgina, don’t beat yourself over that.
      I mean, 9 years ago there wasn’t as much information as there is now and therefore you had no way of knowing it…
      Besides, animals in pet stores are also the victims of scrupulous people!

      For instance, before I started volunteering at the local shelter I liked purebred dogs more than the average mutts, but now I know better and although I love all animals (including the ones who aren’t cute) I prefer mutts to purebreds. Additionally I can now see how beautiful they really are in their variety – not like the purebreds who all look pretty much the same.

      People with a high level of consciousness and evolution (like you) live, learn and evolve.
      The problem is those people who refuse to change their minds or even question what they have been told or taught (brainwashed is more like it).


  • Hart

    Marjorie Kaplan has steered Animal Planet in the right direction, with this program, Whale Wars, and the forthcoming Dolphin Warriors she has used the power of mass media for social issues in ways activists have only dreamed of getting access to.

  • John

    Georgina, this was not your fault. The puppy mill industry and Petland do everything they can to hide their dirty puppy mill business from the public. People just don’t know, and the pet stores that sell puppy mill puppies (which is ALL) lie about it.

    They know that people can’t investigate these out-of-state puppy mill breeders that Petland buys from, nor the puppy mill brokers like Hunte Corporation that Petland buys through to mask the puppy mill source.

    But this issue is much deeper than Petland.

    The AKC is IN BUSINESS with Petland. AKC makes most of its money registering puppy mill puppies. Without that money, AKC would go broke. This is what pays the bills for all the big AKC salaries, lobbying they do to oppose regulation and support the puppy mill abuse, and the dog shows, etc.

    Many people have no idea that AKC is in the puppy mill business and supports dog abuse for profit, and that the AKC fights hard to oppose regulations and laws to help puppy mill dogs.

    If you do a google search for “AKC puppy mills” you can find more, and Sourcewatch exposed the AKC puppy mill connection

    Everyone who buys an AKC registered dog from anywhere, or registers their dog with AKC, is unfortunately supporting this puppy mill abuse, and they don’t even know it, because AKC hides it.

    Here is an AKC board member who solicits much of the puppy mill business. She runs a pro-puppy mill lobbying group, and attacks humane groups.

  • John

    Petland also hires a big money lobbyist (who also lobbies for the tobacco and alcohol industries) to try to fend off criticism of their puppy mill industry, usually by smearing and lying about the whistleblowers like HSUS who expose the abuse!

    His name is Rick Berman, and he runs a front group called CCF or Center For Consumer Freedom. He also has lots of fake front websites that smear humane groups and spread misinformation and deceit, and don’t reveal that he is behind them!

    More on Rick Berman and CCF

    You will find a lot of puppy mill lobbyists, lobbying websites, AKC lobbyists giving links to Berman’s websites to smear the whistleblowers.

    The puppy mill industry is a big money industry, and they want to keep abusing dogs for profit any way they can!

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  • Dawn

    i have a puppy from petland he is 8 months old and needs 2 new hips. i would never buy from a store again i am determined to spread the word corporate |J.R| trated me like crap!!!! My baby is in pain all the time!!!

  • Andrea

    I’m an employee of Petland, and most of the stuff that is being said here is a false statement. Each breeder we use is USDA approved and AKC investigated. Each Petland is seperately owned, as we are a franchised company. it is wrong to say that every Petland gets their puppies from mills, when in reality, none do. We even give out the breeder information so the customer can do their own research on them before they purchase puppies. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of something, but learn the true facts first.