Petland Is Selling This Albino Puppy For $5,500
Their dogs come from some of the worst puppy mills — and often have health problems.
On the website for Petland Kennesaw in Georgia, an unusual looking puppy is for sale - a Boston terrier with stark white fur and blue-pink eyes. When reached by phone at the store, the salesperson "Alex" said that the dog is albino, which is "something very, very rare to find."
Alex didn't want to discuss the puppy's price over the phone. Instead he suggested visiting the store and meeting the dog, and also wanted to discuss Petland's "financing plans" in person.
When pushed for an estimate, he said, "You're looking around the $5,000 mark."
To some people, $5,000 for a purebred puppy might seem pretty average, especially as breeds like English bulldogs and Chow Chows can cost up to $8,000 to $9,000 from a breeder. While statistics for albinism in dogs aren't readily available, it's true that dogs with albinism are hard to find.
Albino dogs might be rare, but they also come with health issues. Dogs with albinism often become deaf or blind, and they're prone to sunburn, so they require special care and attention. What's more, albinism is often the result of bad breeding - which runs rampant in the cruel puppy mills where Petland gets their animals.
There's a lot that Petland isn't telling consumers about the puppies they have for sale. According to a 2008 investigation conducted by the Humane Society, Petland (which is a large chain with over 70 retail stores across the U.S.), has a long history of funnelling sick and injured dogs from puppy mills to consumers. When the Humane Society visited Petland stores in Georgia in 2015, they found that they were still buying dogs from some of the worst puppy mills in the country, notorious for keeping dogs in cramped, filthy cages and depriving them of medical care. This has resulted in over 490 complaints against Petland on the Consumer Affairs website.
An anonymous customer who spoke with The Dodo after visiting the Kennesaw store learned from the store (after asking to see the dog's paperwork) that the puppy came from a company called Choice Puppies, a distributor in Missouri that's part of Hunte Corporation. This customer took photos of the paperwork, confirming where this puppy came from - and showing a $5,500 price tag.
As John Goodwin, the senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at the Humane Society, explains, Hunte Corporation is a broker who buys dogs from puppy mills and sells them to pet stores. "It's very convenient," Goodwin tells The Dodo. "When a consumer Googles 'Choice Puppies,' they don't find the same awful things as when they Google 'Hunte.'" (When you do Google "Hunte Corporation," you find page after page of information about their puppy mill history and cruelty towards animals. For instance, one page provides a link to an investigative video that shows dogs with matted, yellow-stained fur in tiny wire cages.)
An operations manager reached at Petland's headquarters confirmed that Petland works with Choice Puppies, although he was unable to say exactly where the white puppy came from. He told The Dodo that Petland does not associate with any puppy mills, saying, "We got all USDA reports on all the breeders that the stores use." In fact, being licensed by the USDA means nothing - puppy mills must be licensed in order to sell dogs to stores. USDA standards require only that dogs' cages be 6 inches longer than the dog, and allow puppy mills to keep dogs in those tiny cages, stacked on top of each other, their entire lives.
Dogs who come from puppy mills often end up having health issues like giardia, distemper, parvovirus, respiratory infections and intestinal parasites, Gina Moraz, manager of the ASPCA Puppy Mills campaign, explained to The Dodo. The mother dogs are forced to give birth to litter after litter, only to have their puppies taken away from them shortly after birth. When the mothers can no longer produce, they're usually deposed of or euthanized.
Some people online have also expressed concern that this particular terrier has another health issue - splayed feet.
When you consider all this puppy and his family have been through, this puppy shouldn't be sold at all - he should be adopted by a loving family.
"Puppy mills often fail to screen breeding dogs for hereditary disorders and this results in generations of dogs with defects that can lead to painful lives and sometimes even early deaths," Goodwin says. "This is a problem that afflicts many breeds, not just Boston terriers. The fact is that most of the puppies sold in pet stores, or over the internet sight unseen, come from puppy mills, and it is quite clear that puppy mills are more interested in pumping out as many puppies as possible with little regard for the love and care that the dogs need."
For the moment, the albino puppy remains for sale on Petland's website. If you'd like to help dogs like him, don't buy him. Instead you can sign this petition or sign this pledge to adopt your next pet from a shelter.
To learn more about Petland's association with puppy mills, read The Dodo's investigation here.