Petland and Puppy Mills: Stop the Madness #btc4a

Puppy Mill PupPuppy Mill. The term gets bandied about so often, I wonder, does the meaning get lost? Could you define one? Could you identify a dog who came from one? And did you know there are kitten mills too?

Puppy mills are large breeding facilities where dogs live in deplorable conditions, often without necessary food, water, or veterinary care. Melanie Kahn of the Humane Society of the United States says in the video below, “It’s a horribly sad experience.” These dogs often stand on wire mesh their whole lives, eat and drink from contaminated bowls, stand in their own feces, suffer from various injuries and infections, and they fear most everything.


As the video states, with an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the US, the industry rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Somebody is forking over a lot of cash to sustain this cruelty. So who’s buying?

It could have been you. Puppy mills provide vast numbers of animals to pet stores where demand is high. These pups look adorable behind glass, but they have often been bred so close in bloodline that they become riddled with physical ailments, infection due to filth and lack of immunity, and have various anxiety issues. Unsuspecting customers only see adorable puppies and buy, buy, buy – supporting the system time and again. And guess what happens to those pups that don’t sell before they grow up. They get returned to puppy mills, trading their glass box for one of chicken wire to churn out more puppies until they die.


In 2008, HSUS conducted an eight-month investigation revealing that many Petland stores across the country are marketing puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers. On the heels of an HSUS followup investigation, “Animal Planet Investigates: Petland” broadcast HSUS footage while exploring the relationship between Petland and puppy mills. The program featured heartbreaking stories of families who had lost beloved puppies to illness and pointed to the root of Petland’s involvement with mass-breeding facilities.


On September 9th of this year, Petland Canada announced a change in policy. They had been dogged by animal advocates and the growing trend of bans on retail pet sales long enough. To no longer sell pups and kittens was the right move. It’s time Petland USA took the same message to heart. UPDATE: Petland Canada’s shift was based on slow sales, not advocacy, and not all stores are participating in the change. Read BtC4A: Not So Fast to learn more.


Mary Haight, a self proclaimed unexpected activist,  created a petition and publicized it with the help of Be the Change for Animals and Her cause is backed by a lot of community support too (see the link list below).

Join us!
Sign the petition.
Tell Petland USA to stop selling puppies!


Be sure to visit today and all this month for more ways to fight Petland and puppy mills!


Don’t buy puppies or kittens from a store. Ever. Don’t even buy other items from a store that sells puppies or kittens. Adoption will not only save the life of that dog or cat who won’t be euthanized for the sake of overpopulation, it also prevents the demand that churns the puppy mill machine.


The Honest Kitchen, the food I feed my dogs and cats, has a strong stance against puppy mills and the selling of puppies in retail locations. To that end, they have never allowed their products to be sold in such stores because, as they say:

9 times out of 10, these puppies come from mass breeding facilities where they live in squalor, are bred for unnatural traits (squishy noses, low-riding hips, etc) and are transported around the country – without proper socialization, during a critical period in their development. Then, they’re sold to the highest bidder. Puppy purchasers are not vetted to see if they have the time, resources and know-how to take care if their new companion.  In fact, some stores are only now banning ‘drunk puppy purchasing’. With the continued press on the puppy mill issue, including this recent study on the psychological damage of puppy mill dogs, it’s important we continue spreading the word, and educate our fellow pet loving friend about the cause. It’s up to us to give these pets a voice.

Today I learned something new. The folks at The Honest Kitchen read an editorial this month from a pet industry trade magazine, Pet Age, asking the industry to band together and support the sale of puppies in retail locations. The Honest Kitchen pulled their advertising, and founder Lucy Postins published her Letter to the Editor here.

All it takes is a little research.
Be a wise consumer.
Vote with your dollars for what you believe in.



  1. Great post, Kim!

    It seems like the industry as a whole is moving away from retail pet sales (albeit apparently at the speed of molasses, with several naysayers remaining behind), and it’s so great to see more widespread awareness about this issue, and about responsible pet ownership generally.

    Sure, maybe the majority of people don’t get dogs/cats from stores anymore, but as long as some still do, the problem still remains. Here’s hoping Petland USA sees the light.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

    Jen K

    • @ThatJenK I have to say the same about your post. Your in-person inquiries at Petlands in Canada shed tremendous light on the attitude with which they made their announcement (and a lack of backing it up). It’s a perspective I knew, yet I thought the activism surrounding the source of the pups bore more weight in their decision. Clearly, I was wrong.

  2. mybrownnewfies says:

    I have signed the petition! Being from Ohio it saddens me that we have one of biggest areas of puppy mills around. I would love to see them all shut down and for Petland to just close up shop!

    Thanks for spreading the word on this!

    We have a Petland in my city at the local mall that sells puppies, it is a horrible, but there use to be another pet store in the same mall that sold puppies and just the other day I found out that they know adopt out rescues instead! Wish Petland would follow in their footsteps!

    • @mybrownnewfies I’m not holding my breath about Corporate Petland and adoptions. Privately owned Petlands, perhaps, but other privately held Petlands will also continue to sell puppies.

      Congrats on the success of your own post! Love all the comments that feed rescue dogs!

  3. You’ve described the situation and the factors involved so clearly and succinctly. Anyone who reads this must surely understand the gravity of responsibility Petland bears in perpetuating such heartless businesses as the puppy mills. The video is heart-wrenching to watch. Kudos to Honest Kitchen – they get my vote for pet food! Why on earth would the industry choose to support the sale of puppies? That’s simply beyond comprehension!

    • @KimT I suppose that, with more puppies sold in a system that’s already moving them in volume, the greater the customer base. If only these companies supported rescue in a positive way. The customer base would be the same, but the pups would be spared certain death too. We’ll keep working until they see the light!

  4. Thanks for educating folks Kim. It blew me away to hear the number of puppy mills in this country is around 10,000. I wonder how many of those puppies end up at a kill shelter and die there?

    As a nation we need to stop thinking of dogs as a commodity or an object we can throw away once we’re done with them. They’re no more than a purse or a pair of shoes to some people. They may not think of it that way, but when we buy them and then surrender them so easily it’s pretty darn close to that.

    Petland can claim whatever they want, but the truth is out there for anyone who does their research. If we hurt their pocket book, we take away the puppy mills revenue. As Amy said over at Go Pet Friendly, it’s all about supply and demand.

    Don’t buy from pet stores or over the internet!

    Mel Freer

    • @MelF In a nation where we think of farm animals as a commodity with no need for compassion or pain free lives, it’s not surprising dogs and cats fall into that same category for many Americans.

      I just read at ALDF that, as a country, we are downright cruel as compared with plenty of other countries, from farming practices to animal testing. Americans have far less respect for the cycle of life of all beings, whether people eat meat or not. It’s always about increased production and throwing the unwanted away. Puppies, male chickens that are tossed alive into grinders for lack of commercial use, kittens…

      This throwaway mentality isn’t just about animals. It’s a plague on every part of our society as we toss environmentally hazardous computer parts into landfills in impoverished nations where children mine through with their bare hands to sell reclaimed batteries. If we don’t change, we’re going to contaminate the very Earth that supports us all.

      The sad thing is that I just know somebody is going to read this and think I’m being melodramatic. Those are the exact people who don’t understand how every living being is so very connected.

  5. somethingwagging says:

    I’m also glad you reminded people to support the businesses that have been doing the right thing all along. If we want responsible pet care businesses, we need to support them.

    • @somethingwagging Even good businesses are hard to determine these days with all the marketing double speak. If you read Petland’s website, it sounds like they really love animals and children, offering programs for everything from puppy training and behavior classes to supporting Safari Stan’s Children’s Charities for very ill kids. This why education is so important.

  6. bailingoutbenji says:

    @GoPetFriendly @KimClune We are fighting the same fight here in Iowa. We have the second most #puppymills in the nation

  7. LorieHuston says:

    Great post, Kim. I think one of the biggest problems we face with this fight is that so many people don’t connect pet shops with puppy mills.

  8. doggiestylish says:

    Be a wise consumer, indeed. Caveat emptor, baby. And I luvs Honest Kitchen, too 😀

  9. I think you made two very important points that might be missed in the whole “don’t buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store” argument: 1) People who adopted their pet may still be supporting Petland by purchasing food or other pet supplies there. Take your business elsewhere and let them know why you no longer support their business. 2) Support ethical pet-related business like Honest Kitchen who are willing to stand up to pressures to support the puppy mill industry.

  10. Amy@GoPetFriendly says:

    Voting with our dollars is exactly what we need to do. It’s disappointing to know that Petland wasn’t interested in doing the right thing – just looking to maximize their bottom line. Given that, I won’t be shopping at any Petlands – ever. That’s how I choose to vote.

    • @Amy@GoPetFriendly I’ve been thinking more about this, Amy. If Petland’s policy shift is due to lack of pet sales and not due to animal welfare, it doesn’t really matter. The consumers have clearly spoken by not buying, and change has occurred! Petland may iterate that they weren’t moved by activism, but that’s obviously not true. Activism comes in many forms, lack of sales being the very thing we’re calling for! I call that a win!

  11. wantmorepuppies says:

    Really great post, Kim. You’re so right – we have to vote with our feet and our dollars. When selling puppies is a losing financial proposition, then it will stop. The key is educating consumers to avoid those businesses.

    I’m heading over to THK now to read more about the debate within the industry itself. It’s sad that companies making their money off of pet owners would support a practice that’s bad for animals and for the owners who unwittingly purchase them.


  1. […] Feldstein of kicked it off with her post late yesterday, followed shortly thereafter by Kim Clune, Lorie Huston, and Amy Burkert . That means more people will be made aware of what they are doing […]

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