Petland is one of the largest pet store chains in the United States, with over 80 locations across the country. They are well known for selling puppies, with cute little puppies in the windows being a hallmark of Petland stores.
However, Petland has also faced a lot of controversy over where they source their puppies from. Animal welfare advocates have accused Petland of buying from puppy mills and irresponsible commercial breeders. So where exactly does Petland get their puppies?
Petland’s Claims on Sourcing Puppies
Petland claims that they only buy from USDA licensed and inspected breeders. On their website, Petland states:
“We only deal with facilities that are licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We choose only to purchase from facilities that meet Petland’s high Standard of Care.”
Petland also has a “Standard of Care” document that outlines their policies for breeders they purchase from. This includes requirements like:
- Providing proper veterinary care, exercise, socialization, and housing for the parent dogs and puppies.
- Keeping facilities clean, safe, and well-maintained.
- Only breeding dogs between 12-24 months old and not breeding dogs more than once a year.
- Screening puppies for health issues before selling them.
So in theory, Petland claims to only deal with responsible, high-quality breeders. However, many investigations and reports over the years have called these claims into question.
Evidence of Puppy Mills
There is significant evidence that Petland buys puppies from large-scale substandard commercial breeding operations, otherwise known as “puppy mills.”
Some evidence includes:
- Government inspection reports have found questionable Petland suppliers to have issues like overcrowded and unsafe conditions, lack of veterinary care, and diseases spreading between dogs.
- A 2009 undercover investigation by HSUS at several of Petland’s breeders found severely ill puppies and breeding dogs confined in poor conditions.
- Multiple lawsuits have cited Petland as buying from puppy mills. In one 2008 case, Petland was reportedly buying puppies from a kennel in Iowa with over 1000 dogs on-site.
- News investigations and traced shipping records have found Petland puppies coming from controversial breeders. This includes breeders like Lambriar Inc, which had over 300 dogs and was exposed for poor conditions.
- The Humane Society estimates over 95% of Petland’s puppies come from puppy mills based on investigation and traceability.
So while Petland relies on USDA licensing, their breeding network seems to still include substandard large-scale operations that would qualify as puppy mills.
Why Petland Uses Puppy Mills
There are clear financial incentives for Petland to source puppies from puppy mills rather than responsible small-scale breeders:
- Puppy mills can breed dogs at very low cost, keeping puppies cheap for Petland to buy in bulk.
- Puppy mills often shortcut health tests and veterinary care to further lower costs.
- The huge number of breeding dogs at puppy mills allows them to supply Petland with a steady stream of different “designer” cross-breed puppies that draw in buyers.
- Puppy mills lack ethics when it comes to animal welfare, allowing them to maximize production and profits.
So while Petland’s “Standards of Care” sound nice on paper, their business model ultimately depends on commercial-scale breeders that cut corners on proper breeding ethics and veterinary care in order to deliver cheap purebred and mixed-breed puppies. Reliable animal welfare groups consistently find Petland’s suppliers to include puppy mills selling to pet stores for profit, rather than small responsible hobby breeders.
Adoption and Responsible Sourcing Alternatives
Many veterinarians and animal welfare groups consider buying puppies from pet stores that source from puppy mills to be ethically problematic. Here are some alternatives for finding an ethical puppy:
- Check local animal shelters and rescues for adoptable puppies or dogs. There are lots of puppies given up or born in shelters needing homes.
- Find a responsible local breeder through breed clubs and vet recommendations, and insist to see breeding facilities, health tests, and parents.
- If buying from a breeder or store, ask for documented source information like USDA license numbers, parents’ registry details, and veterinary records to help identify irresponsible suppliers.
- Consider an “adoptable” puppy – some shelters and vets now get puppies from auction sites and hoarding cases adopted out after rehabilitation and health checks.
The bottom line – Petland claims to source ethically but ample evidence indicates their puppies ultimately still come from mass-production puppy mills. Conscientious pet buyers should consider adoption or responsible sourcing alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are puppy mills?
Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities where profit is prioritized over animal welfare. They often have 100+ dogs in poor conditions without proper veterinary care. The parents are bred as much as possible without regard for their health. Puppy mills supply pet stores, brokers, and online sellers.
2. Are any Petland puppies sourced ethically?
It’s possible a small percent may come from higher standard breeders, but investigations consistently show the vast majority of Petland puppies originate from puppy mill operations with major welfare issues.
3. Is it ok to buy a Petland puppy if I feel sorry for it?
It’s understandable to feel sympathy for puppies in the store, but buying them financially fuels the puppy mill system. It’s better to adopt or support an ethical breeder.
4. What should I look for when sourcing an ethical puppy?
Reputable breeders focus on health and temperament over profits. Look for AKC/UKC registration, health testing of parents, few breeding dogs living in home, transparency, and commitment to take back puppies at any point in life. Avoid pet stores.
5. Can I report a suspicious puppy seller?
Yes, you can file a report on the Humane Society website if you suspect an establishment is acquiring puppies from unethical mills and brokers. Your information helps track down and promote action against cruel mills.