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June 29, 2009

More Evidence in Petland-Puppy Mill Enterprise

When The HSUS tackles an issue, we don't relent easily. And there is news to report on two of our long-standing battles—1) the fight to protect wolves in the lower 48 states, and 2) our campaign against Petland, the large retail pet chain, for its corporate practice of trafficking in dogs from puppy mills.

First, I am pleased to report that we've won another reprieve for wolves in the Great Lakes region. This is the sixth time we've fended off an effort by the federal government to delist wolves in the northern Great Lakes region and deny them federal protections provided by the Endangered Species Act. In this latest case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted in the face of the most recent lawsuit filed by The HSUS and several other animal protection and conservation groups. There's much at stake here, since there's little doubt that the state fish and wildlife agencies in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would proceed with wolf hunting and trapping programs once federal protections are lifted.

Petland-dogs-for-blog
© The HSUS
One of the puppy mills that some Petland stores buy from.

And today, The HSUS released a second batch of evidence that confirms again that Petland is engaging in doublespeak when it claims it is not selling dogs from puppy mills. Our records analysis revealed that more than 95 percent of Petland's stores do buy from puppy mills, either directly from the facilities themselves, or indirectly through massive out-of-state brokers (middleman dealers) who traffic in thousands of puppies a year. In fact, more than 80 of Petland's outlets were found buying from the Hunte Corporation alone, a massive Missouri broker that traffics in approximately 80,000 puppies a year.

Since our initial eight-month Petland investigation linking dozens of Petland stores to puppy mills, Petland's corporate office and many of its franchises issued angry denials and said they deal only with a special selection of breeders who have "the highest standards."

Our new 2009 report revealed that some Petland stores are still buying from known puppy mills that The HSUS clearly named and identified in our 2008 investigation, including puppy mills where dozens or even hundreds of dogs were filmed running back and forth in cramped wire cages, and even one facility linked to a notorious convicted animal abuser.

Two stores in Florida were found still buying from the facility linked to Kathy Bauck in 2009, a well-known puppy mill operator whom we named and identified in our initial Petland investigation. Bauck was convicted of three counts of animal torture and one count of cruelty in March 2009.

Several stores were found buying from MAM Kennels and at least one from the facility of Charlene Koster in 2009—two other puppy mills we clearly named and identified in our initial report.

The new study links additional brokers and puppy mills who have public records of serious Animal Welfare Act violations directly to many of Petland's stores.

There's an easy way out for Petland. It can stopping selling dogs from large-scale commercial breeders and instead work with local humane organizations to make homeless dogs available for adoption, just like PetSmart and Petco do.

With The HSUS's second exhaustive look at animal transport records, the debate over where Petland procures its dogs is over. Now the question is, will the company continue with its archaic and inhumane practices, or begin to pay greater heed to animal welfare considerations in its business operations?

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