Petland faces puppy mill suit
By Jason Cato
Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A federal lawsuit seeking class-action status accuses Petland Inc. of selling dogs whelped in puppy mills.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Arizona, accuses the Ohio company and its suppliers of violating racketeering laws by concealing the source of its animals. The 37-page lawsuit details the stories of sickly puppies bought in Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and Michigan.
Petland has four Western Pennsylvania stores — in East Liberty, Fraser, Robinson and Monroeville — none of which is named in the lawsuit. But the pet store chain is accused of supplying each of its 140 U.S. stores with animals bred at puppy mills.
The suit is partly based on a nationwide investigation conducted last year by The Humane Society of the United States, which is assisting the Philadelphia law firm of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky.
"Petland requires its retail locations use specifically approved puppy mills or puppy mill brokers to purchase puppies for resale to the public," the lawsuit states.
In a statement, Petland said it is "outraged and disappointed" by false accusations made by the Humane Society, which it described as "a radical animals rights group that has no affiliation with local humane societies."
Joe Watson, a Petland vice president, said each puppy sold through its stores is examined by licensed veterinarians before arriving at the store and again is examined by a veterinarian at the store to certify its health. The company also advises customers to have their pets examined by a veterinarian within a week of purchase.
"The health and welfare of the pets in our care is our upper-most concern," Watson said in the statement.
Plaintiffs seek damages including three times the dogs' cost plus veterinary fees. Losses are estimated at more than $5 million.
Other defendants include the Hunte Corp. of Goodman, Mo., which is accused of being the "world's leading distributor of puppies to pet stores" and of selling animals from puppy mills to Petland.
"This is another baseless, media-driven fundraiser for the 'Humane Society,'" said Hunte President Steve Rook.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.