Heartbreaking secret investigation reveals sick puppies at Lexington Avenue pet store in New York City

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NEW YORK CITY (December 8, 2021) – A heartbreaking secret investigation by the Humane Society of the United States into the American Kennels pet store in Manhattan has revealed sick and dying puppies stored in designated sick rooms and a basement, hidden from the public. Some of the sick dogs were sold to customers who were unaware that the puppies were sick and were from cruel puppy mills. The investigator documented that at least one puppy died in the store. The store, which has been in existence since 1954, boasts on its website its tradition of “providing healthy and happy pets to customers around the world.”

The Humane Society of the United States forwarded these shocking findings to the New York Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The agency, formerly known as the Department of Consumer Affairs, worked on an earlier case based on a 2017 HSUS investigation that resulted in a record fine of $ 4 million against the Chelsea Kennel Club in 2020.

The investigator infiltrated for six weeks as an employee of the American Kennels store on Lexington Avenue from October through early December 2021 and documented dozens of extremely sick dogs and at least one puppy that was not eating on its own. The dog died after being left in the store with only intermittent, inadequate care for about 24 hours between Thanksgiving morning and the next day. Previously, the investigator had repeatedly asked management to take the visibly ill goldendoodle puppy to a vet, but employees refused to do so. A colleague said the dog had not eaten in days unless she was force-fed. At any given time, there were around 60 puppies in the store, with 12 to 20 hiding in the sick rooms and the basement.

John Goodwin, Senior Director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Our secret investigations have repeatedly proven that pet stores like American Kennels get their dogs from puppy mills and are not a place for young fragile puppies. These animals cannot get the proper care they need in a retail store that has 50 or 60 puppies at a time, leaves them alone for long periods of time, and does not take them for emergency care when they are. seriously ill. How often do we see sick, ailing and dying puppies in these stores? New York is set to join the five other states where laws have been passed to end the sale of puppies in pet stores. “

Kitty Block, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “The neglect, filth and lack of proper veterinary treatment that these frightened young puppies are forced to endure at this store is unacceptable. And these dogs were born in pain: Puppy mills are mass producing puppies to fill store shelves as if animals are nothing more than products. Responsible dog breeders don’t sell their puppies to pet stores because they know the truth: Puppies don’t belong to an environment where profit trumps animal welfare.

Patrick Kwan, Senior Animal Welfare Advisor for the New York Mayor’s Office, said, “Bringing a pet home shouldn’t lead to devastating heartache and unexpected big vet bills. New York City has zero tolerance for puppy mills and will take action against pet stores for violating our city’s laws to protect animals and consumers.

The investigation at American Kennels also revealed:

  • Up to 20 sick puppies at a time were hidden in “sick rooms” at the back of the store or in the cold basement of the store rather than being immediately taken to a vet for emergency care. .
  • Some of the dogs were ill and suffered for weeks from symptoms suggesting infections, pneumonia, abscesses, diarrhea, parasites and more. They were often treated in the store with ad hoc remedies such as bulk drugs that were not prescribed individually and were force-fed if they were too sick to eat on their own.
  • Many sick room cages were smeared with so much excess excrement that the puppies inside did not have a clean place to stand.
  • Pet store staff treated sick dogs with medicine the store had on hand. In one case, a fragile toy poodle weighed just over 1 pound when it arrived and was not eating. Instead of rushing the dog to a vet, an employee force-fed the puppy with baby food and injected him with fluids. The puppy then developed an abscess which the worker injected the fluids into. The dog was not rushed to a veterinary hospital for professional treatment. She wasn’t finally taken to a vet until after suffering in the back room for weeks.
  • A Shih Tzu with obvious skin pustules and hair loss was kept in the sick room, then in the basement, for weeks without being taken to a vet for urgent diagnosis and treatment.
  • When the sick rooms in the store were full, some sick puppies were moved to the sales area. The store then knowingly sold some of the sick puppies to unsuspecting families. Some families who bought sick puppies then brought them back to the store, where they were put back into sick rooms instead of being immediately taken to a vet.
  • In apparent violation of the New York City Pet Stores Act, the store has purchased puppies from at least three brokers (dealers) who hold Dealer B licenses with the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Some store employees refused to share information about the store’s puppy breeders with potential customers who requested – another apparent violation of the city’s pet store law.
  • Some large breed puppies, such as a chow, labrador retriever, and golden retriever, were kept in tiny cages meant for toy-sized dogs like Yorkies, and the investigator never saw them. get out of their cages to exercise regularly.

The Humane Society of the United States has linked the American Kennels pet store to documented puppy mills in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska and other states known for puppy mills, including at least three breeders who previously featured in the HSUS Horrible Hundred Reports of Known Problem Puppies. mills.

The New York state legislature has twice considered legislation to end the sale of puppies in pet stores statewide. The Puppy Mill Pipeline Act, A.4283 / S.1130, sponsored by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), passed the New York Senate this year and next year will continue to be considered by the legislature. Similar bills ending the sale of puppies in retail stores have already been passed in five other states (California, Maryland, Maine, Illinois and Washington) and more than 409 locations nationwide.

“This investigation demonstrates why it is imperative that we pass my legislation to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. With so many good animals to save, there is no need for pet stores to sell animals supplied by abusive puppy mills, “said Deputy Senate Leader Michael Gianaris. “Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not as commodities.”

“The appalling conditions and treatment of animals in American kennels revealed by the investigation of the Humane Society of the United States are shameful. It’s no secret that puppy mills breed cruelty, and buying animals from pet stores is unwittingly supporting puppy mills. The vast majority of dogs, cats and rabbits sold in New York State pet stores come from factory-like factories and we’ve seen countless families tricked into buying sick animals from these stores, ”Linda said. B. Rosenthal, member of the Assembly. “Over the years we have tried to regulate pet stores, but the industry continues to prioritize profits over animal welfare. The only way to shut down puppy mills for good is to end the plant pipeline. puppy dog ​​at the pet store. I thank the Humane Society of the United States for their groundbreaking investigation, and I look forward to working together to pass legislation banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits this next session. “

The Humane Society of the United States urges anyone who has purchased a sick puppy from American Kennels or any other store in New York City to contact the New York State Attorney General.s Office. Buyers can also report a sick puppy to the HSUS and their local humane law enforcement agencies.

Learn more about puppy mills.

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