Secret investigation finds puppies suffering at New York pet store A Humane World


An undercover investigator from the Humane Society of the United States asked American kennels to take this very sick toy goldendoodle to the vet before Thanksgiving, but the store refused. The puppy was found dead in the store the following Sunday. HSUS

Since our undercover footage is now in the hands of New York City authorities, we can reveal what our investigative team discovered over the course of six weeks at a pet store called American Kennels on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Between October and early December, our investigator documented the heartbreaking mistreatment of the shop’s puppies, many of whom were constantly sick. While undercover, our investigator repeatedly asked management to bring a terribly ill goldendoodle toy to a veterinarian for emergency care. Instead, she was left alone in a crate in the store’s infirmary for most of a holiday weekend, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving the pup was found dead in her crate.

Our investigators have reported their findings to local authorities, and the city is currently reviewing our evidence.

Other puppies suffered from symptoms of upper respiratory infections, skin conditions, hair loss and discharge from the eyes, nose or ears, but most of the sick dogs were only treated with ad hoc remedies in store, including force-feeding, subcutaneous fluids, and medicated baths. Some of the sick puppies were kept in a cold room in the basement, out of public view. Others were kept in cages that were far too small. Sometimes the puppies were found standing in cages that were smeared throughout with feces.

A customer who paid $4,000 for a sick Chihuahua at American Kennels returned to the store after having the sick pup “treated” by the store’s random methods. The puppy was still sick. The customer railed against the store for selling sick dogs to customers while store staff desperately tried to silence her.

A chocolate shih tzu at American Kennels who suffered from runny nose and eyes and was not taken to a vet quickly. HSUS

What we saw at American Kennels is heartbreaking but, sadly, not uncommon. In 2017, another investigation by the Humane Society of the United States into a Manhattan pet store called Chelsea Kennel Club found similar abuse and led to the store’s closure a few months later. The store’s former owners were eventually fined approximately $4 million for failing to provide proper care to sick dogs and for knowingly selling sick puppies to the public. Many other New York pet stores have been fined or investigated by local authorities for similar issues.

We ask the authorities to check some of the other sick puppies in the American Kennels store. These poor dogs include a Shih Tzu showing signs of severe skin infection and hair loss who had been at the store for over a month with no improvement and was being kept in a cold basement; a female wire-haired dachshund who had been coughing for a week; and a Pomeranian, Corgi, Maltese, Jack Russell terrier and numerous other dogs with signs of upper respiratory tract infections and runny nose who did not appear to be receiving proper care, many of which were in public areas of the store and available for customers to purchase beginning December 3, the last day our investigator worked in the store.

A toy poodle at American Kennels who developed an abscess after a pet store worker injected him with fluids. Instead of rushing him to the vet, a pet store employee rubbed a crushed antibiotic pill on his wound. HSUS

Our researchers have also linked the store to documented puppy mills, including at least three breeders who were previously featured in our Horrible Hundred reports, which expose puppy mills. They also uncovered alleged violations of city laws. In apparent violation of New York City pet store law, American Kennels purchased puppies from at least three brokers (dealers) holding B licenses with the United States Department of Agriculture; Municipal law requires that pet stores only buy dogs from licensed breeders, not brokers. Some pet store staff also refused to share information about the store’s puppy breeders with potential customers who requested it, another apparent violation of the law.

What can you do to help

While we wait for authorities to review our evidence, citizens can do more to stop the cruelty of pet stores.

  • New Yorkers can urge their lawmakers to support an end to the sale of puppies in pet stores statewide. The Puppy Mill Pipeline Act, A.4283/S.1130, passed the New York Senate this year, and next year will continue to be considered by the legislature. If passed, New York will join five other states that have already passed similar laws.
  • New Yorkers who have purchased a sick puppy from American Kennels or any other New York store can report it to the New York State Attorney General’s Office and local authorities. People in any state who purchase a sick puppy from a pet store can let us know using our online form.
  • If you decide to buy from a breeder, be sure to visit them in person. Responsible breeders never sell their puppies online or to pet stores because they don’t want them ending up in places like American Kennels.
  • As always, we encourage anyone looking to add a puppy to their family to first consider adopting from a reputable shelter or rescue group.

As chilling and disheartening as these findings at American Kennels are, I am heartened by the growing awareness of the inherent cruelty of the puppy mills and pet stores that perpetuate these massive breeding operations. With each investigation, the Horrible Hundred Report released, and the legislation we help pass nationally and locally, we come one step closer to the end of the indefensible puppy mill industry.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter@HSUSKittyBlock.


Pets, Investigations


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