NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) — Petland, a chain of pet stores that sells puppies, is coming to northwest Arkansas, but a local animal control officer says people shouldn’t buy puppies from a such store.
“We don’t need a store that sells puppies,” said Cpl. Washington County Animal Control Supervisor Lori Hodges. “Puppies, like the ones at Rogers’ pet store, people think, ‘Oh, they’re so cute,’ but people don’t realize where [the puppies] are coming. »
Petland Rogers will soon be opening on Pinnacle Hills Drive in Rogers.
Petland has come under fire on Facebook from people concerned about where the company acquires its puppies. Petland has claimed in the past that the puppies they sell are purchased from breeders licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
However, a report from the Humane Society of the United States indicates that almost all Petland stores nationwide buy puppies directly from puppy mills or from people who deal with puppy mills.
“The largest U.S. chain of pet stores selling puppies, Petland Inc., is also the largest U.S. retailer of puppy mills,” the Humane Society’s survey summary states.
The Humane Society blog outlines a wide range of shortcomings in how Petland cares for the puppies they sell. The blog has reported numerous cases of sick puppies at Petland stores.
Petland representatives released a statement regarding the Humane Society’s report on Petland’s practices. Here is part of what they said:
“HSUS is a politically oriented fundraising group that is out of touch with the animal world. HSUS has demonstrated that it lacks acceptable ethics and has lost its place as a credible source for those who truly put animal welfare first, as evidenced by their “D” rating from Charity Watch. We can’t imagine how many animals could be helped if they spent only a quarter of the energy and money they use targeting regulated sources of pets and instead focusing on real animal welfare.
Hodges said that while licensed breeders are more legitimate than puppy mills, acquiring pets is problematic.
“A puppy mill is basically a slang word for what we call breeders,” Hodges said. “There are two types of breeders. You have breeders who go through a broker who sells to pet stores, and then you have breeders who breed just because they can.
Hodges closed a puppy mill located in the area where the city limits of Lincoln meet Washington County in early 2018. The woman who ran the puppy mill was arrested on dozens of counts of animal cruelty.
“She was a puppy mill backyard breeder,” Hodges said. “She did not use a broker. She did not vaccinate her dogs. She didn’t care if the dogs were sick or unhealthy. She was the typical puppy mill breeder who did it for all the money she could get from the puppies.
Hodges searched the puppy mill and found around 76 puppies – Yorkshire Terriers and other small breeds – living in miserable conditions. She also found the remains of what was determined to be eight dead dogs.
“Those inside were in crates which were very small. The house smelled horribly bad. There were maggots in their food. There was [feces] and [urine] in their water. [Their cages] were stacked on top of each other. The dogs on top would be [urinate] and [defecate] on the dogs below them,” Hodges said.
More legitimate breeders breed puppies and sell them to brokers. Brokers sell the puppies to pet stores such as Petland.
“Those who use a broker are inspected by the USDA because brokers don’t want dogs that come from places like [puppy mills]. They want vaccinated dogs, healthy dogs,” Hodges said.
Hodges said she has dealt with a few legal, USDA-regulated breeders.
The first legitimate breeder Hodges met in Washington County had 450 dogs. She said the ranchers were a husband and wife team that employed a working couple. The kennels were kept clean, all dogs were vaccinated and measures were taken to prevent the puppies and their mothers from contracting diseases.
“I am not a puppy mill advocate. I’m not an advocate for breeders, especially when you have so many dogs. But I inspected it multiple times and they weren’t breaking any laws,” Hodges said.
Puppies raised by legitimate breeders don’t suffer in miserable conditions, but many of them are killed, albeit humanely, because they aren’t profitable, according to Hodges.
Breeders present litters of puppies to brokers. Brokers buy the puppies they think they can sell to pet stores, Hodges said.
“These other [puppies in the litter] are automatically euthanized. The breeder does not need it for stock. Either way, a dog is euthanized,” Hodges said.
Hodges said places to sell puppies like Petland come from breeders who treat puppies like commodities for profit.
“If a breeder has a dog that has health issues or if something happens and they need to see a vet, they won’t take them to a vet. They’ll euthanize them because it’s less expensive to euthanize than to treat,” Hodges said.
While it’s not illegal to breed dogs for profit in Arkansas, state laws lag behind when it comes to the treatment of animals and business practices involving animals, Hodges said.
“We don’t need a store that sells puppies,” Hodges said. “They’re just advocating for the kind of business Arkansas needs to change.”
Hodges said she believes community members who are looking to buy a puppy from a chain such as Petland should instead find a dog at their local human society.
“I can’t see paying $600 to $1,200 to $1,500 for a dog when you can go to a shelter and find one for much less that needs a home,” she said. .
Petland representatives have released a statement regarding their treatment of the puppies they sell. Here is part of what they said:
“We have full-time puppy care technicians whose only job is to care for the puppies under the direction of our veterinarian while they wait for their forever families. Know that we will always visit our breeders and keep them at the highest level. There is nothing more important than the health and happiness of all of our pets.