Our findings are alarming but not surprising. This is an industry that, more often than not, cuts corners to get dogs to the market on the cheap, and then charges consumers exorbitant prices even as it provides substandard care. Previous HSUS investigations inChicago, New York, Texas, and Virginia have revealed similar shortcomings: pet stores all too often buy and sell puppies who are sourced from inhumane puppy mills that treat them like products, not living, breathing animals.
Our investigation, which tracked sales at 13 of the 17 stores that sell puppies, revealed:
- Most of the puppies coming into Georgia from the Midwest during the 60-day period of our investigation came from the Hunte Corporation - a large Midwest puppy broker.
- A breeder supplying a Petland outlet, Clear Springs Kennels in AR., was last year cited for several violations in a USDA inspection report, including dogs badly in need of veterinary care, broken wires in cages that pose an injury risk, and filth at the facility. Petland claims to have a policy of not buying from breeders with direct violations.
- The owner of one of the pet stores our investigators visited, 19 breeders, was charged in 2009 with animal cruelty and 28 other animal offenses. He was found in violation for 18 counts of improper animal confinement.
Staff at many of the stores engaged in elaborate deception to convince our undercover investigators - as they do with unsuspecting buyers - that they were getting the dogs from responsible breeders. Some told our investigators that their stores' puppies came from "families" or from breeders the store owners know well and visit often. A few Georgia stores even showed our investigators photos of pet store managers in posed pictures with some of the breeders. However, tellingly, there is not a kennel building in sight in these posed pictures.