Friday, March 9, 2018

Sixteen Plaintiffs File Lawsuit Against Novi Pet Store

Lawsuit claims Petland Novi knowingly sold puppies with genetic issues, illnesses and disease from substandard breeders violating the Consumer Protection Act.  

March 9, 2018

CONTACT: Pam Sordyl, 734-828-1400 or 734-718-7100, pmamichinfo AT

NOVI, MICHIGAN – Sixteen plaintiffs who purchased companion animals from Petland, located in the Twelve Oaks Mall (27200 Novi Rd, Novi, MI), have filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages for breach of contract and multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act after purchasing puppies. The puppies suffered from a range of issues, including genetic defects, infections and some had highly contagious diseases, costing the plaintiffs thousands of dollars in veterinary care.

The lawsuit was filed on February 22, 2018 at the Oakland County Circuit Court and assigned to Judge Hala Jarbou. (Case Number 2018-163984-CZ)

In one particularly heart breaking case, one of the Plaintiffs purchased a puppy that brought the Parvo virus home and infected the family’s senior Labrador, Smokey, who had to be euthanized after contracting the virus. 

The complaint also alleges fraud, claiming the store and its owner knowingly sold animals with deformities and illnesses, as well as misrepresenting the origins of the animals.  In many cases, after investigating the documents provided by Petland upon purchase, the animals were found to have been bred in horrific conditions by commercial breeders who many allege are well known “puppy mill” owners.

Some Plaintiffs were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement or “gag” document in exchange for reimbursement of veterinary costs and a refund of the purchase price of the puppy. Families were asked not to hold Petland, Twelve Oaks Mall, Northlake Pets Inc., VCA Animal Hospitals, or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates responsible, nor could they post anything negative on the internet, go to the media, or do anything defamatory against Petland Novi to obtain reimbursements or refunds.

The Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jennifer Measel of Haas & Goldstein, P.C., a Farmington Hills based law firm which recently prevailed in similar pet store retail fraud cases in Mt. Clemens, Mich.

“The puppies sold at Petland Novi are unhealthy because they are over-bred in warehouse-sized kennels in unsanitary conditions without consideration of genetic quality,” says Measel. “This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects. Mass production of puppies in unsanitary kennels harbor diseases and illnesses that travel with the puppy to the pet store and can be shared among other puppies from other puppy farms on the broker transport truck.”

The named defendants in the lawsuit are Petland Novi and owner/operator Randy Horowitz. Horowitz lost two recent court cases after DNA testing proved the store sold the wrong breed of dog to members of the general public.

Petland is the nation’s largest puppy retailer, with over 80 locations in the United States and only one store remaining in Michigan. Last year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced a nationwide racketeering class actionlawsuit against Petland. The lawsuit claims predatory business practices of charging premium prices for puppies “guaranteed” to be healthy – as certified by Petland’s veterinarians —when Petland knows it is selling puppies prone to illnesses and other defects, including “puppy-mill” sourced puppies.

Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan launched a public education campaign against the Novi store in 2010. The group has continued to warn mall patrons and families of the risks involved in purchasing puppies from Petland through protests, petitions, outreach events, and social media. The group took their campaign to the Novi City Council and police department after collecting over 100 complaints - 24 in 2016 alone - and discovering Oakland County Animal Control was not logging or responding to complaints over a three year period in which records were requested. A list of concerns was presented to the city council and can be found on this blog 
  • Petland Novi has a history of working with irresponsible breeders. Enforcement Actions were filed against fourteen 14 of Petland Novi’s suppliers and others have serious violations to the Animal Welfare Act - 700 USDA photos and videos show these violations including injured and untreated animals.
  • Petland Novi uses large commercial breeding facilities, some with over 500 adult dogs on site.
  • Petland Novi imports 60-160 puppies per month from out-of-state breeders where families can not meet the parents.
  • Petland Novi uses puppy brokers or “middlemen”, ensuring that customers will never meet the parents of the animals they purchase.
  • Over 100 customer complaints have been logged related to Petland Novi. Complaints have been reported to local Animal Control, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,, Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Petland Novi has been the subject of local investigations including (WXYZ Detroit) The Investigators.

“It has been impossible to help families escalate their complaints when elected officials in Novi and appointees within the Oakland County Executives Office directed us to the Michigan Department of Agriculture which no longer regulates pet stores, “ stated Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness. “We asked repeatedly for a police detective to be assigned after more sick puppies were sold and highlighted in the news.”

Those wanting to add a pet to their household are encouraged to adopt from their local shelter or Michigan Certified foster-based animal rescues organizations- many of whom specialize in specific breeds- or thoroughly research and personally visit the breeder from whom they intend to purchase an animal.

To follow the progress of the Petland Novi case, click below

Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan is a grassroots organization dedicated to ending commercial breeding "puppy mills" and protecting families from puppy peddlers, pet stores and bad breeders by lobbying for stronger laws, setting up information booths, completing research studies and launching pet store campaigns.

Learn more about Puppy Mill Awareness

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Petland Novi, What happened to this Great Dane?

On February 9, 2017 a black male Great Dane was removed from Petland’s large showcase window after the Novi Police visited in response to a complaint. Two puppy shoppers reported the puppy was on display for sale with runny eyes, a crusty nose, hair loss and appeared to be very underweight. 

Where did he go??? 

Shortly after the police visit, Petland posted a new photo advertisement on their Facebook page stating that the Great Dane had been sold, yet an hour later a customer was told that the she could not see the dog because he was sick and would be going to the vet the following morning. The same puppy shopper visited again the following week and the store stated the dog was at the vet. Remember, this is the sibling to the Great Dane that died of pneumonia and reported in the WXYZ story on January 30th, 2017. 

So what has happened to this sickly Great Dane? 

Was he really sold? Is he still at the vet? Was he returned to the breeder in Missouri? Was he euthanized? 

The Davis family’s dog, named Diamond, died from pneumonia that developed from untreated kennel cough and the store continued to try and sell the sick litter mate. This is very irresponsible. 

There are several police reports associated with these two Great Danes. 17-5723 Michelle Read 17-6737 Pam Sordyl and Susan Wheeland 17-xxxx Brian and Elizabeth Davis


1) We need an independent veterinary to look at all of these dogs in the store. Susan Wheeland observed other dogs with runny eyes on display for sale on 2/16/17. If you see a sickly puppy please call Oakland County Animal Control at 248-391-4102. They can ask the state dept to bring a staff veterinarian. 

2) If you purchased a sick pet, or you are having any problems regarding the warranty, and extra vet costs in the last six years from Petland Novi, you need to call Pam Sordyl, Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan at 734-718-7100.

3) If you oppose the retail sale of puppy mill dogs and want Petland Novi to be held accountable for selling so many sick animals, let your voices be heard! Contact the following decision makers:

Novi Mayor Bob Gatt, Mayor Pro-Tem David Staudt, Council Members: Andrew Mutch, Wayne Wrobel, Laura Marie Casey, Gwen Markham and Brian Burke,,,,,,

Novi County Commissioner: Hugh Crawford,

Oakland County Public Services Committee Chair: Bill Dywer,

4) Leave an online review: Ripoff Report (does not remove reviews) or Yelp.

5) Attend the next NoviCity Council Meeting on February 27, 2017 at 7 PM.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Barks N Bling Closed

Barks N Bling Pet Shop and Boutique (Pontiac, Mi) will no longer be selling puppies. The store is closed. The owner was forced by the court to move out of her home into a hotel room after Child Protective Services allowed her daughter to return to the home. Our records show Edwin and Rebecca Santana owned Barks N Bling between May 2014 – December 2015. For some reason, the store advertised BEFORE and AFTER photos of puppies. The BEFORE photos showed filthy small popular breed puppies.

Why were they in these conditions?
We always wondered.

Barks N Bling Pet Shop and Boutique
218 S Telegraph Rd
Pontiac, Michigan.
(248) 212-9190

When I called the store’s number recently to see if it was disconnected, Carol Bliss answered.  I asked if she had puppies for sale. She asked me what I was looking for. Carol Liss is located in St. Clair County. No kennel license in 2013.

This is the same number a puppy buyer provided for Rebecca Santana back in 2012. The puppy buyer contacted me after purchasing a sick puppy. The puppy buyer stated that she purchased a puppy from Rebecca Santana in Rochester. She confirmed she was the same woman on the recent Channel 7 story regarding the medical kidnapping of her daughter.

The Pontiac location is now owned by Bloomfield Pet Care and Paws and Relax. I sent an invitation to pledge not to sell puppies, but I have not heard back. The owner does breed dogs occasionally.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Michigan Dog Kennel Abuse Cases

Click on images to enlarge. Download below. 
Download PDF Files:

Cheri and George Burke, Allegan
Ramzi Dakhlallah, Pet Station, Wayne
John & Suzette Jones, Barry
John Jones, JRT John's Jack Russell Terriers, Missaukee
Renee Suchil, Pixie Puppies, Montcalm
Virginia Lawrence, Calhoun
Candace Shepard-Younce, Montcalm
Pamela Keehbauch, Isabella
Roxanne Webster, Livingston
Kim Koss, Genesee
Joan Skillman, Ingham
Lorri Nichiow, Lornich Kennels, Macomb
Jean Hansen, Midland
Patrick & Dixie Plunkett, Sanilac
Dennis Jones, Greenwood Pets, Macomb
Donald and Kathe Burkett, Washtenaw
Bradford, Pennie, Noralea & Danielle Quick, Oscoda
Cheri Lane, My Puppy Paradise, Genesee, Calhoun
Timothy Spurlock, Ackley Kennels, Washtenaw
Elaine Komorny, Raisin Tree Farms, Livingston, Ingham
Melinda Hart, Hartline Kennels, Washtenaw
Laura Springborn, Livingston
Allen Mast, Calhoun
Margaret Carp, Macomb

James Griffen, Ontonagon

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oakland County Animal Control Is Failing to Protect Animals and Families

February 5, 2016

Dear Oakland County Commissioners,

Thank you for reviewing our concerns list (attached) regarding Oakland County Animal Control’s lack of response to animal neglect complaints, enforcement of various Michigan laws and gross mishandling of hoarding cases.

Of most importance in this matter, we have pet stores importing hundreds of ill animals, putting them on display sick and selling them to unsuspecting families sick. This should be something the department takes the lead on. We have hoarding cases with repeat failed inspections and the department is choosing to monitor, rather than enforce. In fact, the department has not even acknowledged the Farmington Hills Golden Retriever case as a hoarding situation. Experts have determined prosecution is essential in these types of cases.

Without policies and procedures there is no accountability.

On February 4, Mark Newman provided you with a three-page narrative in an attempt to respond to our concerns list, leaving even more concerns and no grievance process for resolving these issues.

Regarding the Farmington Hills kennel, which is our example of how bad it really is, Mr. Newman completely contradicts testimony provided by Senior Animal Control Officers. I have outlined my responses to his summary of the case:

  1. The Farmington Hills Golden Retriever breeding dogs were not found in ‘good condition’, are still not in ‘good condition’ and have not been seen by an independent veterinarian. The Michigan Penal Code (MCL 750.50) addresses adequate care - such as providing veterinary care, sanitary conditions, exercise, shelter, food, water, etc. We believe the following items are in violation of our cruelty laws:

     “There was no water source available. As we entered the basement, there was a numbing foul odor of ammonia that is consistent with a large amount of urine. The cages were too small and of inadequate size for the dogs. The water buckets for each individual dog had water, but also included dirt, hair and grime. The dog also had hair loss on its tail end and what appeared to be open sores. The floor and walls were covered in what appeared to be feces, mud, hair and wood shavings. Upon entering the main level, the conditions were abhorrent. The bird cages appeared to have not been cleaned in quite some times as it was filled with bird feces and did not contain an acceptable water source.  Upon entering the main kennel, there was a cloud of flies and disgusting odor. Dirt and hair was caked on the wire fencing that was used to contain the dogs. The dog runs had feces caked onto the floors. There was no spot on the floors for the animals to lie down or sit without being in filth. Several of the dogs were itching and biting themselves nonstop which is consistent with a flea infestation”. – Senior Animal Control Officer.

    “Kennel is in such abominable condition that the animals cannot be kept clean or in general good health. Flea/insect infestation. This kennel is not structurally sound and poses a health concern for the animals being kept in the facility. Some dogs were found to be in cages that were not of proper size for the dog, making it difficult for the animal to stand and turn around.” – Senior Animal Control

    The “handful” with fleas Mr. Newman cited was actually a “flea infestation”. The kennel worker reported and photographed evidence of dental disease, ear infections, eye infections, missing hair, open wounds, long toenails, and matting.

    Fast forward to 2015, there have been five more complaints. One puppy sold had fleas, a tick and ear infections. Oakland County Animal Control did not respond by checking any of the other dogs in the kennel. It does not appear the house or basement are being inspected, leaving many dogs and birds without oversight.

    There are no photos on file at Animal Control showing compliance and there is a DVD walk-thru missing, yet the Farmington Hills Police Department has it cataloged as evidence.

  1. There is no law stating that repeat offenders are allowed 10 days to address non-compliances. During an animal welfare check on 9/10/15, the Farmington Hills kennel failed the inspection. Photos taken during this inspection clearly show the kennel has declined to the same condition as the 2013 complaint. (Photos attached). The kennel was provided an opportunity to “clean-up” and then failed the 9/17/15 follow-up inspection. The photos taken during these inspections show an accumulation of feces, dirt, mud, debris and hair which clearly indicates this kennel is unsanitary and is not being cleaned on a regular basis.

  1. In the last eight years there have been 18 formal complaints with the Oakland County Animal Control, 35 kennel inspections or welfare checks by the Oakland County Animal Control and 13 failed inspections.

Petland Novi displaying and selling sick puppies is another example of the department’s failure to protect animals and the public:

  1. Animals on display at Petland Novi are sick and sold sick. My organization has collected 25 complaints related to sick animals sold in 2015 -- and we are not a reporting agency! Mr. Newman stated their officers found no evidence of animal cruelty or abuse at Petland Novi, yet one shopper observed sickly and lethargic puppies. Some were urine stained, others had bloated bellies, rashes, and hernias (Photos attached). In December 2015, one black Poodle puppy was observed pooping blood. This and three other puppies specifically mentioned in the 12/1 and 12/10 complaints were not mentioned in the case report (attached). The case report did not even mention that the puppies were sold or in quarantine. Where were these puppies? Pet stores are required to keep disposition records. Was the poodle pooping blood sold that way?

  1. Not providing adequate veterinary care to keep an animal in good health does violate our cruelty laws.Adequate care" means the provision of sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of good health. Mr. Newman clears all concerns simply by saying that a veterinarian is overseeing the puppies at the pet store. This is a veterinarian that has a contract with the store and receives new clients as part of the 3-free exams offered. It is the department’s responsibility for finding out why so many puppies are on display sick and sold sick even though a veterinarian is overseeing them. This is not “adequate” veterinary care.

  2. A prior FOIA request shows the department did not respond to any complaints over a three year period (August 2009 – July 2011). Mr. Newman claims that “the department has always and will always respond to citizen complaints of animal abuse or cruelty.” On January 21, 2016, I filed a complaint related to the Family Puppy store regularly shipping sick puppies to Toledo, per a whistle blower employee. It was being covered by several media outlets. The department supervisor stated they will only respond to food, water and shelter complaints and it is not their duty to inspect pet stores. I even asked Mr. Shankin if a puppy was pooping blood on display at a pet store, would they respond? He stated, no. They will only respond to food, water and shelter.

  3. Families who purchased sick puppies from pet stores are still referred to the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Mr. Newman stated it is unfortunate the MDARD dropped the Pet Shop Program, but did not agree to pick up the duties for enforce the Pet Shop Laws while other cities are. Some cities like Dearborn and Warren have even prosecuted irresponsible pet store owners. I agree, these cases could also be considered civil matters, but if there is a pattern of complaints and contagious diseases reported, the department should take the lead. If one sick dog is sold, there are likely many more that go unreported. Petland was exposed in the news repeatedly for selling sick animals back in 2009/10.

    To learn more about the problems at Petland Novi, please read my report prepared for the
    Novi City Council.

Regarding “bite complaints”, there is no evidence that bite forms are processed with the Health Department. I am attaching a FOIA response from the Health Department stating there are no bite forms on file for the Oakland County pet stores listed, yet we have at least one bite form filled out by the Novi Police (attached). I also have testimony from the Health Department stating they never received bite forms from OCAC. In 2013, Joanie Toole claimed the department responded to 600 bite complaints in one year. Can these be found in the Michigan Disease Surveillance System?

Mr. Newman did not address all of our concerns. We are still looking for the following:

  1. All polices and procedures governing how the director, supervisor and officers respond to complaints and enforce the laws.

  2. How many cruelty cases have been submitted for prosecution in the last three years?

  3. What services are offered to villages, cities and townships? Specifically, what has been provided to each municipality? Are all provided the same services?

Thank you,

Pam Sordyl
Founder Puppy Mill Awareness of
SE Michigan
t 734.828.1400   c 734.718.7100

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Petland Novi continues to use no discretion in choosing suppliers

Petland Novi claims to use only breeders with no indirect violations on their “last” inspection report, however, Hillard’s Kennel from Coffeyville KS shipped puppies just eight months after being cited for four indirect violations. These indirect violations include lack of veterinary care, housing, cleaning, and sanitation. The veterinary violation was for a Shih-tzu’s with a very crusted and watery eye. “The area around the eyelid appears to be swollen. The licensee has no medial records to show dates the dog was examined.”

In addition, Johanna Abernathy & Terri Schnieders’ Quapaw OK kennel also received a wide range of violations related to housing, exercise program, feeding, watering and cleaning.  The inspector found loose, sharp metal objects, rodent droppings in food storage, waste around the dogs, no exercise program signed by a vet, chewed unsantizable food and water dishes, flies throughout the facility. 

USDA Licence # 73A2671

USDA inspection notes (from June 26, 2013 unless otherwise noted)
  • The self-feeder has a hole in the bottom with sharp jagged edges.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The water receptacles with chewed or roughened edges.
  • The water receptacles with roughened edges.
  • Flies in the enclosures, must maintain some plan to remove or control flies and other vermin.
  • The water receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • Shovel full of waste form the enclosures.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • The shelter building int he exercise yard has sharp and jagged edges the [sic] could injury the dogs.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • The accumulation of waste around the clean out. Flies were present in the area.
  • Wheel barrel full of waste from the enclosures, should be move [sic] from the area.
  • The shelter building int he exercise yard has sharp and jagged edges the [sic] could injury the dogs.
  • Kennel buildings.
  • Kennel buildings.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Petland Novi frequently asked questions that can be answered in two words

Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan receives all kinds of questions about Petland Novi from employees, shoppers, local residents, city council… So many people find it hard to believe that a store in a popular local mall would be doing something unethical. We all know when profits are involved coupled with the belief having any type of business is good for the economy can be a bad thing for animals. 

Q: How many complaints have been filed regarding sick dogs sold?
A: Too many.

Q: How many times has Oakland County Animal Control or the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development checked on sick animals?
A: Not enough.

Q: Does the veterinary who issues 30-day Health Certificates also offer 3 free exams to attract new customers? Is that a conflict of interest?
A: Appears so.

Q: Are there disclosure or Pet Lemon laws in Michigan?
A: Not yet.

Q: What happens if someone purchases a sick pet from Petland Novi?
A: No recourse.

Q: Does the owner of Petland Novi have access to USDA inspection reports for the kennels they source from?
A: Yes.

Q: Does the owner of Petland Novi source from breeders with prior  violations or enforcement actions?
A: Yes.

Q: Does Petland Novi work with breeders with over 200 dogs?
A: Yes

Q: How many puppies does Petland Novi sell each month?
A: 80-100

Q: What does City Council say on this matter?
A: Buyer Beware.

Q: If I purchased a sick pet who should I contact?
A: Jennifer Measel (248-702-6550)

Q: If I observed sick animals on display at the store, who should I contact?
A: Good luck!

Q: Why does Petland Novi delete my questions when I post on their Facebook page?
A: Good question.

Q: Where should I find a pet?
A: Local shelter.

Q: What will happen to the puppies if they do not sell?
A: Marked down.

If you would like to know more about Petland Novi’s breeders and business practices, please visit our blog.