Investigation finds dozens of sick and dying puppies at New York pet store

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A secret investigation by the Humane Society found several sick and dying puppies at a well-known Manhattan pet store, some of which were even sold to customers.

Much of the cruel treatment of animals at Lexington Avenue American Kennels, which has been open since 1954 and attracts customers with cute puppies in the windows, was captured by hidden cameras placed by the Humane Society of the United States.

The investigation revealed that of the approximately 60 puppies in the store, at any given time, 12 to 20 of them were sick and were being stored in the designated sick room and a cold basement and hidden from the public, according to the Humane Society. According to the Human Society, at least one puppy was found dead in the store after being left alone for nearly 24 hours, from Thanksgiving Day to Friday morning.

All results have been turned over to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The agency, formerly called the Department of Consumer Affairs, worked on a case based on an earlier Humane Society investigation that resulted in a record $4 million fine against the Chelsea Kennel Club in 2020.

The investigator spent six weeks undercover as a store employee from October to early December this year, documenting dozens of extremely ill dogs and at least one puppy that wouldn’t eat on its own – that same puppy being the one who died after Thanksgiving.

According to the report, the investigator repeatedly asked management to take the visibly ill goldendoodle puppy to the vet, but the vet refused to do so. The dog, who refused to eat, would have been force-fed.

“Our secret investigations have proven time and time again that pet stores like American Kennels get their dogs from puppy mills and are no place for fragile young puppies,” says John Goodwin, senior campaign director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign. Humane Society. “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 doesn’t take them for emergency care when they are seriously ill.”

Some of the dogs were sick and in pain for weeks with symptoms suggesting infections, pneumonia, abscesses, diarrhea, parasites, etc., according to the Humane Society, and treated in the store with ad hoc remedies that don’t were not prescribed individually.

Many sickroom cages were also smeared with such excessive excrement that dogs could not stand inside. When the store’s infirmaries were full, some sick puppies were moved to the sales floor and knowingly sold to unsuspecting families.

Some families who purchased sick puppies then took them back to the store, where they were placed back into sick rooms instead of being taken to a veterinarian for medical treatment.

The Humane Society also claims that the store has purchased puppies from at least three brokers holding Dealer B licenses with the United States Department of Agriculture, which is a violation of New York pet store law. Store staff members allegedly refuse to share information about puppy breeders at the request of customers, which is also a violation of pet store law.

The New York State Legislature has twice considered legislation, The Puppy Mill Pipeline Act, to end the sale of puppies in pet stores statewide. If passed by the State Senate this year, and the next will be considered by the Legislature.

Anyone who has purchased a sick puppy from American Kennels or any other store in New York is urged to contact the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Buyers can also report a sick puppy to the Humane Society of the United States and local law enforcement.

“How often do we have to see sick, suffering and dying puppies in these stores?” said Goodwin. “New York must join the other five states where laws have been passed to end the sale of puppies in pet stores.

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