Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Steps to Getting Puppy Mill Pet Stores Out of Your Neighborhood

While a puppy under the tree might seem festive this time of year, the industry that stocks stores like Petland is full of Scrooges.
Pet store puppies are mass-produced by commercial breeders (a.k.a. "puppy mills") who keep hundreds of dogs in cramped, unsanitary conditions, breeding the females over and over. Due to poor veterinary care and little to no socialization, that pet store puppy with the bow around its neck likely has a bunch of health and behavioral problems to unwrap after the holidays.

This cruelty isn't what people want for pets. More than 130,000 people have signed the petition on asking Petland — the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the U.S. — to stop supporting puppy mills and choose to offer pet adoptions instead.

Despite the huge public outcry, Petland is digging in, saying they hope to keep selling puppies for decades to come. They need to keep hearing from us so they know this decision will hurt their business.

Petland is built on franchises, which means your local Petland store is probably locally owned. That means individual Petland stores can choose to start changing the company's reputation of cruelty by cutting their ties with puppy mills, so taking action locally can have a big impact.

In Michigan, we only have one Petland left. My group, Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup of Southeast Michigan, has seen six pet stores close down since we started taking on the puppy mill business in our backyard.

Here are a few steps you can take to take on puppy mills in your neighborhood, whether they've come to town in the cages at Petland or at another pet shop:

1) Talk to the Store: Have a local citizen visit the store and speak with the owner or manager. I recommend bringing The Humane Society of the United States' Puppy Friendly Pet Store Pledge to help them become part of the movement trading in puppy sales for adoption programs. Follow-up on the visit with a phone call and a letter. Be polite and professional, and if they don't respond, at least you tried to reach out to them.

2) Start a Petition: Stores survive on consumer demand, and starting a petition is an easy way to start showing what consumers want. Check out the Tip & Guides to walk through starting your own petition.

3) Keep the Pressure On: There are a lot of ways to pressure a store, from holding an event like a rally or parade nearby, passing out literature on puppy mill cruelty to the store's neighbors, writing your local paper and news channels, and holding weekly protests. (Note: If you're going to protest at the store, remember to check with your city clerk and police department for any local ordinances that might apply.)

You can also hold a virtual protest, by spreading images like the pledges in this post via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, targeting the social media pages of the store in your area. (To download the images, just right-click and "save as.")

Want to join the virtual protest, but don't have a Petland in your area? You can start with these key stores.

Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup has been protesting at Michigan's last remaining Petland all season. We've seen an increasing interest from the media in what we're doing and have talked to dozens of would-be customers to educate them on the truth behind that puppy in the window.

You can help our campaign by signing our petition asking Petland Novi to stop supporting puppy mills. And if you're looking to add a pet to your home this holiday season, please adopt.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The sad life of Petland puppies

While the puppies in Petland USA stores may look cute in their cages, chances are the puppies have led miserable lives that threaten their health from the day they’re born. Petland USA is the country’s largest chain of stores that sell puppies. Most of Petland’s animals come from puppy mills, where thousands of dogs are bred again and again to supply the pet trade. Dogs are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions, and they often lack adequate vet care.
There’s hope to stop puppy mill sales at Petland stores. Last month Petland Canada ordered its stores to stop selling puppies, in part due to continuous pressure from animal protection advocates. So Mary Haight, a member from Chicago, wants Petland USA to do the same. She started a petition on asking Petland USA to end puppy mill sales in its stores. Click here to sign her petition.

Walk into any major pet store like Petco or PetSmart, and you won’t find puppies for sale. Those stores work with local animal shelters to find homes for the countless animals waiting to be adopted across the country. Yet Petland stores prioritize profit by selling animals from puppy mills, propping up this cruel business.

Puppies bred in puppy mills are often plagued with poor health. Kept in cramped conditions and often housed outside in all types of weather, animals in puppy mills lead a pitiful existence. Puppy mill operators are also known to in-breed puppies, leading to other health and behavior problems.

Each Petland store in the US is an individually-owned franchise, meaning Petland USA’s corporate headquarters can’t ban puppy sales in stores on its own. But Petland USA can stop any new stores from selling puppies, and a strong statement from the corporation would go a long way to putting a stop to its existing stores that buy animals from puppy mills.

Please join Mary Haight in calling on Petland USA to support adoption and speak out against its stores doing business with puppy mills. Sign the petition:

- Cristina and the team

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Michigan needs a “Pet Lemon Law”

Of course animal lovers are not fond of the used-car term “Lemon” when referring to our pet family members.  Some are calling the proposed bill the “Pet Warranty Law”. Whatever the label, most people do not like animals treated as merchandise and wonder why we even allow pet sales when shelter pets are euthanized every day. Well, times are changing and we are headed in that direction. Banning of pet stores in cities is becoming very popular.

Since Michigan has close to 40 puppy selling pet stores across sixteen counties, banning locally would take a lot of time and effort. This would still leave bad breeders pumping pets into our communities.  

Since it is not likely we will ban pet sales all across Michigan in the near future, we can make it a little tougher for the bad guys to profit with legislation that will hold them more accountable. The proposed “Pet Lemon Law” S.B. 574 will not only offer disclosure requirements, such as offering breeder information, but it will hit them in the pocket book if they sell a sick pet.

Puppy Mill Awareness
of Southeast Michigan feels the passing of this bill is one way of exposing the bad practices of the pet trade and will ultimately discourage pet sales. More than half or our pet stores will not release breeder information as they are hiding the fact they work with puppy millers or unlicensed breeders.  

For those of you who have visited any mall pet store, you know the dogs just don’t look right - they are lethargic, shivering, have runny eyes, diarrhea, or a little cough. The puppies more than likely arrived off a semi truck from Minnesota, Missouri or Ohio. If they weren’t sick then, they became sick at the store because the store was not isolating and seeking proper vet care which costs money. Remember, the MDA stopped licensing and regulating pet stores in 2009.  

It is not uncommon for a puppy buyer to face thousands of dollars in vet bills after they discover genetic problems requiring surgery. These items are not covered in any guarantee or warranty.  

Most sick dogs cases go unreported. This is a typical scenario: A family purchases a puppy from a breeder or pet store. They puppy is sick within the first week. They call the pet store that may or  many not cover the first 3 vet visits. If the puppy is still sick or has an expensive diagnosis, the pet store will ask if the family would like to return the puppy.  
Families do not want to RETURN their family members. 
Although the new S.B. 574 allows this an option, it is only an option. The purchaser can choose to have the seller cover some of the vet bills instead. Most states that have pet consumer protection laws like this allow for up to the purchase price. Only a few states allow for up to three times the purchase prices. 
Once the family realizes the store isn’t going to offer additional help, they feel it is their responsibility to care for the sick puppy since they turned down the “Return Option”. They are emotionally invested in their new puppy. If they do find out that they were ripped off and the store has a history of doing this, they may file complaints. They usually don’t have time and don’t want to admit they were duped by the seller. They are already overly stressed out and want to avoid more drama over the experience.  

For every case reported there are probably five more that go unreported. Puppy Mill Awareness tracks sick dog complaints for most all of the local pet stores. Petland Novi alone has close to 50 complaints and The Family Puppy has a whooping 67 with 30 different problems noted – some contagious to humans. Many of them have been reported to us during our staged protests and unreported to authorities.  

For those families that do feel ripped off and frustrated they often go to the Better Business Bureau to settle the dispute. Other times they end up in small claims court, which places a heavy burden on the purchaser to prove that the seller was aware of a pre-existing condition in the purchased animal.  

Puppy Mill Awareness is behind Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) who is leading S.B. 574, which would offer options for the purchaser, including returning the animal for a full refund and replacement or recovery of veterinary expenses. The bill includes specific time frames for reporting illnesses, maximum amounts a buyer can recover, and provisions for congenital defects in the purchased animals. The bill was updated to include disclosure requirements including breeder information.  

We have been logging sick dog complaints and advocating for consumers by providing counseling and a checklist including agencies who may respond to complaints. That checklist can be found here:
Please take action and let your Senators know that we need stronger laws to protect consumers too by signing this petition.
If you know someone who has been victimized by the pet trade, please have them contact our organization. We are looking for individuals and organizations to testify for S.B. 574.
Pam Sordyl
Founder, Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Driving Away Puppy Mills Car Cruise (Boomers)

Oakland County car enthusiasts to drive home the message about the puppy mill/pet store connection
We are hosting a car cruise for their fourth annual Puppy Mill Awareness Day at Boomers Roadhouse, 6650 Highland Road in Waterford, on Tuesday, September 13th from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The cruise is called “Driving Away Puppy Mills” and will offer dog-loving car cruisers a chance to win dog door prizes, auto-door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and a hand-made dog trophy. Local cruisers and car enthusiasts can help promote adoption of homeless dogs by bringing a “nude” photo of their rescued dog for a pin-up contest.
This ‘blow-out’ event is geared toward putting an end to the puppy pet-trade through increased awareness of the many adoption options at local shelters. This is one of several events to be held throughout the week.
The Oakland Pet Adoption Center, the county’s animal control shelter based in Auburn Hills, would like to meet dog lovers interested in adopting new family members and will have an information booth at the event. More information about the Oakland Pet Adoption Center can be found at
Cruise participants are welcome to bring their furry friends along for the ride, but we ask that spectators and the general public please leave their pets at home.
The “Driving Away Puppy Mills” cruise will be sponsored by the North Oakland Bowties Car Club, M&M Services Inc, Simon & LouLou’s Playhouse  and Terry Lee’s Tufts & Tails Grooming. Other event details can be found at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pass “Lemon Law” To Protect Michigan Pet Buyers

A "Pet Lemon Law" has been introduced in Michigan to offer consumer protections for purchasers of dogs, cats and ferrets. Under S.B. 574, people who purchase sick or diseased animals from pet shops, breeders or dealers would have specific recourse against the sellers.

Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan applauds Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) for leading S.B. 574, which would offer options for the purchaser, including returning the animal for a full refund and replacement or recovery of veterinary expenses. The bill includes specific time frames for reporting illnesses, maximum amounts a buyer can recover, and provisions for congenital defects in the purchased animals.

The full text of S.B. 574 can be found here:

"This will hold pet sellers accountable for burdening the public with veterinary costs and emotional stress of caring for a sick pet," said Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness. "We commend Senator Bieda for addressing this costly problem, and for protecting the additional victims of the pet trade: consumers."

Liz Frates, of Ann Arbor, told Puppy Mill Awareness that she purchased a 16-week-old Yorkshire Terrier from a Michigan breeder for $1,200 in cash last year. She was told that the puppy was healthy. The breeder’s full written pet guarantee against anything congenital or hereditary did not help Liz in court, after the puppy was diagnosed with grade 2 luxating patellas in both legs – a congenital defect requiring surgery totaling nearly $3,200. Liz had already spent $900 in veterinary costs addressing breathing and diarrhea problems that the puppy had endured since his purchase.

“Without laws in place irresponsible breeders have free reign to find loop holes and continue with their unethical practices.” said Frates. “Pet insurance will not cover hereditary, genetic or congenital defects and most people cannot afford the thousands of dollars in vet bills and surgeries to correct such health problems.”

In Michigan, consumers often rely on the Better Business Bureau to settle disputes with pet stores. Other times they end up in small claims court, which places a heavy burden on the purchaser to prove that the seller was aware of a pre-existing condition in the purchased animal.
Puppy Mill Awareness has been logging sick dog complaints in Michigan for three years. “Cases often go unreported to proper authorities. Buyers may complain to the pet store or breeder, only to have their calls unreturned,” said Sordyl. “We advocate for consumers by providing counseling and a checklist including agencies who may respond to complaints.” That checklist can be found here:

Puppy Mill Awareness started a petition in support of Michigan's Pet Lemon Law on, the world's fastest growing platform for social change. By signing the petition, citizens can let their representatives know that they support the law, too. The petition can be found here:
Puppy Mill Awareness would like to thank Sen. Bieda and the bill co-sponsors for both protecting Michigan consumers and shining the spotlight on the puppy mill/pet store connection.
According to the nonprofit humane education group The Citizens Against Puppy Mills:
• Nearly 100% of all puppies in pet stores have parasites when they are purchased.
• 48% of puppies being sold in pet stores were ill or incubating an illness at the time of purchase, according to a recent California study.
• 500,000 puppies are born in puppy mills and sold in pet stores every year in the United States.
• Commercial breeders can make more than $300,000 selling puppies every year.
• Almost every puppy sold in a pet store has a mother who will spend her entire life in a tiny cage, never being petted, never being walked, never being treated like a dog.
• Female dogs are usually bred two times each year. At that rate, they usually burn out by the age of five, at which time they are put to death
The Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup of Southeast Michigan is working to end the mass production of dogs in commercial kennels ("puppy mills"). Our mission is to educate the public about the cruel cycle of commercial dog breeding and the pet store link. Read more about our goals, success stories, activities and studies at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Will Westland Dog Food Co Go Humane?

We send sent letters to the owners of Westland Dog Food Co. located at 37687 Ford Rd., asking them to stop selling puppies that come from puppy mills and instead to feature only rescued and adoptable dogs in their store.

We hope that Westland Dog Food Co. will join the ranks of so many other pet supply stores across the nation and adopt a policy to help stop pet overpopulation.

A formal invitation was sent to Westland Dog Food Co. to stop selling puppies and to take the Puppy Friendly Pet Store pledge through the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) initiative, along with an offer to support the store during its transition to adoption events only. Westland Dog Food Co. has yet to respond to the group’s requests.

We hope the store will take our request seriousl. We've worked with over 100 Michigan pet supply stores to sign them onto the Puppy Friendly Pet Store pledge. Unfortunately, some other stores have been reluctant to do so, and we then enacted a public campaign to educate the public about the stores’ puppy mill suppliers. Six area stores that sell puppies have closed after such campaigns were launched.

Our investigation of Westland Dog Food Co. shows the puppy store has primarily worked with Missouri breeders and brokers going back to 2001. One such breeder—MAM Kennels in Lamar, Missouri—was featured in an HSUS investigation and was included in their “Missouri’s Dirty Dozen” list. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports show that MAM Kennels was cited for repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act related to severe overcrowding, lack of shelter or bedding, dogs without the minimum space required, and no veterinary care for two years. One violation report read, “There are 2 dogs - a yellow lab in pen #6 and a rottweiler in pen #64 that have injuries and need to be see by a Veterinarian. The lab is limping on the left front paw. The rottweiler is walking with a humpbacked gait and is very thin. Both of these animals must be seen by a veterinarian to access their medical condition.”

Another breeder who shipped puppies to Westland Dog Food Co. in 2011, David Remey of Boonville, Arkansas, was inspected by the USDA in December 2010. The investigator found that the outside runs of the dog enclosures had a build-up of animal waste. There were areas of the enclosure where the animals could not move freely without coming into contact with feces.

This is disgusting. Michigan families care about their pets, while Westland Dog Food Co. has a history of working with out-of-state breeders who are mistreating their animals.

Over the years, Westland Dog Food Co. has worked with over 40 different out-of-state breeders and brokers, some of whom have also supplied puppies to Petland Novi. Those breeders’ kennel inventories range from 21 to 482 adult dogs.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture launched an investigation of Westland Dog Food Co.’s health certificates after finding that 44 % of its puppies were being imported illegally into the state. From June 2009 to December 2010, 25 of the puppies’ health certificates were rejected for not having the vaccinations required for import into Michigan.

An additional letter was sent to Westland Dog Food Co. this week, saying that if the store does not opt to end its puppy mill connection, the group plans to conduct a public education campaign outside the store. The letter ends with the request, “We would like you to pledge in writing to convert to a humane business model."

September 17, 2011 will mark Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan’s 4th Annual Puppy Mill Awareness Day event. Each year we focus our public education efforts on a store that works with large commercial dog breeders. This year, if this store does not decide to adopt a more humane business model, we may be doing such a campaign on Ford Road in Westland.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Puppy Sales End with Store Closer (Eastpointe, Mi)

On Friday, July 29, 2011 Paws-N-Claws posted their closer signs. Grand Closing 8/12 – 8/14.

Selling puppies does not save a business; it only brings on bad news.

Our Paws-N-Claws campaign started as one of several Holiday Round-A-Bouts, but turned into a 6-month boycott with strong local support. We held 36 protests from November 2010 - May 2011. From blizzards to gale force winds- we were out there! With multiple fume blowing snow blowers and lawn mowers - we were out there! Fowl smells, intimidation photos and frivolous police calls could not stop us.

I want to give a virtual pat the back to those who kept coming out with fierce determination and passion: Olivia, Pam W, Paula, Janet, Sharon, Akshay, Shannon, Christine, Cathy and many others who joined when they could.

Here are some of my personal campaign highlights:

More favorite photos.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pet Store Owner Serves Jail Time

Does everyone remember the Laura Springborn case from last spring? One of the headlines read “ Gregory Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty Turns Herself In”. Springborn opened Pet Paradise Plus store stocked with puppies in Stockbridge, Mi in 2010. It was soon surrounded by protesters and eventually raided by the Ingham County ACO in May 2010. An investigation led them to her home in Gregory (Livingston County). In her home, they found over twenty small breed dogs in unsanitary conditions. She soon faced felony charges.

Unsanitary conditions should have been written as “shockingly” unsanitary. I thought you all might want to see just went on behind the pet store’s displays.

Springborn was no stranger to local Animal Control. There were many complaints filed regarding her dogs housed in Gregory going back to 2006.

1.13 dogs, Newf, St. Bernards, Great Pyren. And St. B puppies. No shade, skinny, not good living conditions.
2. No dog licenses.
3. Running at large, attacking neighbors dog.
4.Animal abuse: Shade, food and water?
5. Abuse. Too many dogs. Over 10. Breeding dogs, not caring for them. Hearing horrible yelps and crying from home.

On April 9, 2010, Animal Control removed a total of 24 dogs/puppies from her property. Inside the home they observed several dogs, garbage, and fecal matter covering the entire floor of every room in the home. There was smeared fecal matter throughout the home, some spots were several inches thick. The ammonia smell was overwhelming causing eyes to burn. No food or water was observed. What food was available was mixed with urine and stool. Springborn was informed for the sake of the dogs they could not stay and they would be removed immediately. Some dogs were locked in the back room which they came back later for. When they returned for them, the floors had been scraped from some fecal matter. When they opened the locked doors to the bedrooms, the dogs began running out into the living room and kitchen scavenging for food.

While the Livingston County ACO was rescuing the breeding dogs from Springborns home, the Ingham County ACO was finishing up their lengthy report involving her pet store. They had numerous complaints over poor conditions of the facility and gravely ill puppies. Fourteen dogs were removed from the pet store, two had parvo and later died.

There was a Health Certificate for a female St. Bernard in July of 2009 from Dr. John Hermann. This mobile vet seems to work with all the shady pet stores. The address for Pet Paradise on the certificate showed 15525 Racho Road, Taylor Mi with a Jackson phone number (517-795-4126). This is the Gibraltar Trade Center address in Taylor. It appears she moved from the Trade Center to Gregory.

At the Springborn home:
None of the dogs were licensed.
There was not a sufficient amount of food available to the dogs.
There was not adequate water provided
The interior of the home was caked with fecal matter and urine some areas contained several inches of accumulated stool.
There were at least five space heaters on the floor in various rooms and the dogs were running into them. One had appeared to be burned on its rear quarters.
Laura claimed two days ago she had bought two 8 week old Chihuahua puppies from Ohio. She could not find the health certificate required by law.
Laura could not provide any proof of vet care for any of the 24 dogs in her home.
Many of the dogs were coated with fecal matter.
Many dogs had visible lesions and inflamed eyes.
Some of the dogs observed being bred repeatedly.
There were large amounts of mouse excrement observed in all r ooms.
Many of the windows had been covered in spray paint.
There were feces covered clothing and sheets scattered throughout the home.

The Livingston County prosecutor ensured that Springborn would not be allowed to have animals during her two year probation. The Ingham County prosecutor was able to get some jail time, community service and much needed counseling. She was sentence to 6 months probation on 7/26/11.

To view all photos, click here.

111 W. MAIN ST.

Livingston County Case Number: 10-19044
Ingham County Case Number: 11-00063SM

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Holding out for Buster (Short Film)

Puppy Mill Awareness was thrilled to be apart the PAHFest this year! Many of our Petland Campaign team members participated as extras in "Holding out for Buster" a short film highlighting our Petland protest!

In the film, a little girl is pining over her long-lost dog, and her comedic mother tries to make her child happy (in her own way). They become more educated while going down the path to add a new dog to their family and end up with a surprise.

We are shown proudly holding signs at Twelve Oaks Mall. The film also includes Kevin Hatman from the Michigan Humane Society, Susanne Dooley-Hash from Horse Haven and Ed Sereky from the Dearborn Animal Shelter – all with important messages about animals in need.

Buster and the white pitbull puppy were both adopted by Barb Baker at Horses Haven. The puppy was blind and found discarded in a garbage can.

Please share this with friends and family.

Photos & Video from Closing Ceremonies
Print Screen Photos from the Film
Petland Protest Photos & Video during filming

Friday, July 15, 2011

Livonia Rescue taking a stand against puppy stores

Guardian Angle Animal Rescue (GAAR), home-based in Livonia, is committed to participating in peaceful demonstrations at the Twelve Oaks Mall – home to Petland. Sandra Mezza, the rescues founder and president, has been rounding up nearly 20 volunteers each month including many youths who are learning to stand up for a cause for the first time. They make their own signs and wave on passer-bys.
This week, Sandra’s volunteers stood in as extras at a large demonstration filmed as part of a PAH-Fest documentary. Suzette Dexter, another local dog advocate won a contest to create a short documentary about animal welfare. She choose puppy mills as one of several issues to be addressed in the 6-minute film.
Both Puppy Mill Awareness and GAAR will be attending the film screening this Sunday hoping the documentary makes it to the big screen!
Learn more about PAH-Fest
Learn More about Guardian Angel Animal Rescue:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Puncturing the Puppy Mill Pipeline

The Humane Society of the United States published another article "Puncturing the Puppy Mill Pipeline" that highlights many of our projects here in Michigan.

They also mentioned us in their Annual Report.

I hope the stories inspire groups in other states to hit the streets too.

End Puppy Sales in Eastpointe Michigan (Paws-N-Claws)

Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup’s petition has reached over a thousand signatures after being launched in May. Our petition urges Paws-N-Claws pet store to stop selling puppies and start supporting adoptions instead.

End Puppy Sales in Eastpointe Michigan (Petition)

Petitioning the puppy-selling store is part of our local boycott that included 6-months of staged protests outside of Paws-N-Claws. We are asking the public to learn the facts about this store’s breeders and avoid contributing to the cruel pet trade.

After weekly protests, the store continues to sell puppies. Paws-N-Claws has worked with large breeders and brokers in states such as Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. Seven of the ten USDA licensed breeders that have supplied Paws-N-Claws have citations listed on their USDA inspection reports, ranging from sanitation problems to inadequate vet care.

• puppies were observed with the feet or parts of the legs extending below the floor surface.
• broken and protruding wire ends sticking out
• have a buildup of dirt, grime and caked on feces
• do not have wind/ rain breaks
• did not have adequate shelter for the animals
• two boxers with only one shelter large enough for one animal
• cages do not have adequate space
• transported in commerce a total of 11 puppies that were not 8 weeks old
• need to have the mats, long hair, removed or combed out around the mouth, anal area and areas that hang down and drag the wire flooring.
• housing needs the wall kept clean
• need to add additional bedding to the terrier pen
• need to have the grease and grime removed

Inspection reports can be found online (Inspections)

Clarke’s Hillside Kennel, located in Yates Center Kansas, has a history of violations going back to 2004. In 2010, the kennel was cited for not observing the dogs on a daily basis to assess their health. Some dogs had mats that could cause sores and discomfort. There were citations also related to sanitation and housing for 50 dogs - “Need to clean the inside of the shelter housing and also the indoor housing buildings to better insure that the dogs can remain healthy and disease free.“

Not all the puppies come from small local breeders as Paws N Claws would have the public believe -- USDA inventory reports show that these are large commercial operations with hundreds of dogs. Puppy mills typically have large kennel inventories, many different breeds and produce wholesale for profit (USDA Licensed) where profits come over the welfare of the animals.

While purchasing from puppy mills is not illegal it is highly unethical. The pet store may not be breaking laws, but they have worked with breeders that are.

Those seeking to add a puppy to their family are asked to adopt from a shelter.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What you should know about Petland, Novi

There is only one Petland store remaining in Michigan, located at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. Petland is the nation’s largest puppy retailer who has been exposed locally by Channel 7, the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Planet. Now Michigan dog advocates from the Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup have been calling on the store to stop supporting puppy mills and start supporting rescue.

Join us every Saturday from 12-3 for peaceful demonstrations starting June 4th, 2011. See our calendar for details.

Protests at Twelve Oaks Mall began after Channel 7 exposed this store in October 2009 for selling a sick puppy. Heather Catallo, an Investigative Reporter, completed a second investigation in November 2009 after another sick dog allegation was discovered.

The store is selling sick dogs because they come from large commercial breeders and brokers. One regular supplier, Opal Featherston (Whiting KS), has inventory records listing 773 adult dogs!. This is considered a mega mill.

Just looking at Petland’s 2009-2010 breeder list, this store is not choosy. Puppies are shipped from a wide range of Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, and Ohio breeders and brokers.

Abe Miller, House of Pets (Fresno OH) was the store’s primary 2010 supplier who delivered 68% of the puppies which equals approximately 57 per month. The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) records show that this kennel housed 133 adult dogs and 110 puppies in June of 2008, which indicates it is a commercial breeding operation. With approximately 16 different breeds, the House of Pets provides the wide variety of dogs demanded by pet stores. Inspection reports show this broker was not only working with unlicensed breeders, but that it was also cited for non-compliances to the Animal Welfare Act in the regulated areas of housing, primary enclosures, cleaning, veterinary care, records, compatible grouping, feeding and identification.

The pressure has been on all the Petland stores across the county to stop supporting. Beginning in March 2009, Bora Kim from Channel 4, covered the Class Action Lawsuit with ties to the Peltand Westland store. Animal Planet exposed the chain in May of 2010 after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) completed a 8-month investigation. In addition, the courts are allowing a racketeering lawsuit to proceed against Petland.

Support the efforts of Puppy Mill Awareness by telling Petland Novi to stop selling puppies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Puppy Mill Mothers Not Forgotten in Michigan

"Flint and Detroit area dog advocates share a moment of silence at local puppy pet stores"

On the eve of Mother’s Day local dog advocates came together in a moment of silence for the 130,000+ breeding mothers caged in Midwest puppy-factories. Vigils hosted by Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan were held at The Family Puppy pet store in Flint and Paws-N-Claws pet store in Eastpointe.

“It was a time of reflection and about our devotion to man’s best friend” said Julieann Lotridge of Lapeer.

Among the participants were former breeding mothers. Freeda, a tiny Chihuahua, was bred for years in a plywood box with minimal human contact. “I wanted everyone to meet my survivor and see the scars from her multiple c-sections. That is all they needed her for – her babies. She had the scare tissue and old staples in her belly when she was rescued and spayed. You can even see that she lost her spirit” said Cathy Tingley of Rochester.

Puppy mills are mass-breeding facilities that raise dogs in shockingly poor conditions. They operate with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare. Breeding mothers are often destroyed or discarded after their fertility wanes. Why is this legal? There is minimal supervision of puppy mills by the United States Department of Agriculture, whose investigators look for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Commercial breeders are supposed to be licensed and meet minimal standards of care. However, if a breeder operates without a license or fails to meet minimum standards, it is often not until he is reported that he gets inspected or cited. Penalties are substantially less than what would be required to encourage improvements.

“The best way to stop puppy mills is to refuse to buy from them and their distributors – the pet stores. If we take away their profits, they have no reason to continue.” said Pam Sordyl, the group’s founder.

“We are encouraging The Family Puppy and Paws-n-Claws pet stores to stop supporting the cruel puppy mill industry through puppy sales, and instead create an adoption program similar to other large pet supply retailers like PETCO and PetSmart” said Sordyl

Last fall Puppy Mill Awareness revealed the results of a five-month investigation of The Family Puppy chain store. The investigation revealed that The Family Puppy is Michigan’s retailer purchasing dogs from puppy mills. This spring, a boycott including weekly rallies and a petition were launched keeping the spotlight on the highest volume retailer.

Paws-n-Claws started stocking more than supplies in 2008 drawing concerns from dog advocates. Inspection reports show most of the out-of-state breeders that supply Paws-N-Claws have citations ranging from sanitation problems to inadequate veterinary care. In addition, the USDA inventory reports show that they are large commercial operations with hundreds of dogs.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend Vigil

This Mother’s Day weekend give a voice to the 130,000+ breeding mothers working overtime in puppy-factories producing litters for Mother’s Day gifts. Join our Flint and Eastpointe teams for vigil-demonstrations at the following locations:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Family Puppy 12 – 3 p.m
Genesee Valley Center
3341 S Linden Rd Flint, MI

Paws-n-Claws 4 – 6 p.m.
19100 E. 10 Mile Eastpointe, MI

Candles will be provided along with plenty of photos of mothers who never made it out of the kennels. I will also bring t-shirts and buttons (bring cash).

If you have a rescued puppy mill survivor, please bring them for the vigil portion of the events at noon and 4 p.m. You are welcome to stay, but we do not encourage our furry members to be close to the road during the demonstration.

May marks our third month of protesting The Family Puppy and sixth month at Paws-N-Claws. Why have we been coming every Saturday in all types of weather?

The Family Puppy is Michigan’s largest puppy-selling store. They import on average 100 puppies per month from out-of-state breeders with serious violations to the Animal Welfare Act. Flint does not need any business selling commercially breed puppies working against all adoption programs in Genesee County. Get the facts about their breeders.

Paws N Claws works with some of the same breeders as Petland! Seven of the ten out-of-state USDA licensed breeders that supply Paws-N-Claws have citations listed on their inspection reports, ranging from sanitation problems to inadequate veterinary care. In addition, USDA inventory reports show that these are large commercial operations with hundreds of dogs. They are just as bad as Petland, in fact, they use the same broker out of Minnesota.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Designer Dog Gimmick

On Thursday morning ABC News - Good Morning America, aired a segment on designer dogs. Not only did they promote these dogs as great pets for people who live in cities, have allergies, or don't want a barking dog, but they also stated that the breeding of these mixes produces only the best traits of both breeds in the offspring. They stated that to get these quality puppies you have to pay up to $1,400 in pet stores. There was no mention of where these dogs are bred or how they get to the pet stores!

There is no guarantee what the puppies will look like or who they will inherit their temperaments from. One generation will add, combine, and result in total mixture of genes that can result in good bad or any combination in between. Anyone that can read can pick up a book at the library and find out who the whole gene inheritance works.
Mix down ears with up ears and now you have added ear problems, grooming problems and on and on.

Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, chair of the Indoor Allergen Committee for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), "The studies have not supported that there's any type of hypoallergenic dog. Even if you get a hairless dog, it's still going to produce the allergen." This is because allergies are caused not by hair, but by a protein found in animal dander, saliva and urine. All dogs produce allergens; a smaller dog may produce fewer allergens, but a person's reaction to the dog also depends on the individual.

These so called “Designer Dogs” were likely breed together because they were not registerable, but now breeders and pet stores see that they can market these puppies as the latest trend. These are just gimmicks to make money, it has nothing to do with quality. It is just another way to rip the public off by charging them top dollar for a mix breed.

For many years a purebred was a luxury most families could not afford and there were always unwanted litters in the neighborhood to take care of instead of waiting on a breeders list for the next litter. Now that everyone has a purebred, thanks to puppy mills (large commercial kennels), the industry had to develop something “new” for people to “want”. This only drives demand for more puppies produced out of cruelty.

If you want a dog that looks like no other, visit the shelter, rescue and call them any designer name you like. This way you are not encouraging the flooding of the country with all those puppies.

For all of us that work so tirelessly educating the public about the puppy mill to pet store connection, this was a huge set back. Obviously, Good Morning America, did not do any research on this subject and instead chose to air a totally false and irresponsible piece that chose to encourage sales and "educate" the unsuspecting public about what a "Morkie" really is. New York City is number two in the sale of puppy mill dogs in the country and this segment certainly will help to keep them there.

Please contact ABC TV and politely let them know how you feel and ask them if they could cover the other side of the pet trade to ensure the public is well informed. Ask to speak to the producer of the segment at 212-456-7000.

To view the segment Click on the link below:

To contact ABC News Good Morning America click on the link below:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking on Classified Ads

Last month a new Meetup member joined with some fresh ideas. Akshay, a UofM student, approached me after our Grassroots workshop with his concerns over puppy classified ads. I wasn’t sure what to tell him as there are several roadblocks. First, most newspapers won’t prohibit puppy sale ads because they are being paid well for each and they certainly need all the cash they can get right now. Second, it would cost us too much to post competitive educational ads.

Akshay, however, wasn’t defeated. He went home, developed his own website over night and showed me knows how to play the game too.

Check out his new website

His slogan is "Save money and a life."

With the goal of educating unsuspecting puppy buyers who seem to start with the classifieds, he created his own classified in the Detroit Free Press. The ad directs puppy buyers to his website with educational information and points them to shelters and On top of that, his blog is filled with interesting articles.

The payoff was worth the cost. He had over 200 unique visitors in just three weeks and the ad only ran for one week!! I am sure he helped some families steer away from puppy mills.

Akshay and I are working on a strategy to place targeted ads regularly and strategically at the lowest cost. Stay tuned.

If you know someone who is thinking about adding a new member to their family, you can point them to this very helpful site.

Thank you Akshay!

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Study of Michigan's Puppy Pipeline

The Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup of Southeast Michigan has completed a study of puppy-selling pet stores in Michigan. The primary goal of the study was to determine breeder information to help protect conscientious customers from unknowingly contributing to animal neglect and abuse in distant states.

Summary of the findings:

There are approximately 50 puppy-selling pet stores in Michigan.
Over half of the stores are located in the southeast Michigan. Wayne County has the most puppy-selling stores (10) followed by Macomb County (8).

From 2009 to 2010, 17 pet stores imported approximately 5,000 puppies from other states according to interstate health certificates. On average 213 puppies are legally imported per month to pet stores.

The Family Puppy/Family of Pets store is the largest chain, with five stores in the southeast Michigan area importing on average 118 puppies per month. V.I.P Pets is the second largest chain with four stores in west Michigan.

A puppy may travel 1,200 miles before reaching a Detroit area pet store. Transportation from distant states causes stress in dogs and increases the risk of disease transmission.

Many stores are operating without a prior pet store license.

A variety of puppy peddling operations have increased with the lack of regulation. As families are losing their jobs they may be turning to the pet trade as an easy way to make extra money without experience or knowledge of canines, disease control or breeding standards.

These other forms of puppy-peddling were discovered:

• Puppy Garage Sales
• Pitbull-selling Pet Stores
• Dog Flippers
• Rescues operating as pet stores
• Trade Center booths

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Have A Heart

As Valentine's Day draws near, breeding mothers in puppy mills/commercial breeding facilities will be working overtime to meet the seasonal demand for pet store puppies. Please help us speak out on their behalf and join us for peaceful rallies at Paws N Claws, in Eastpointe on 2/12 Noon, 2/13 Noon and 2/14 3:30.

Find the details on our Calendar

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bye Bye Petland

As of November 2010, there are 100 remaining Petland stores in 23 states. At least two stores do not sell dogs and cats. The number of stores has declined every year since 2007 and hasn't been this low since 2003. In 2010 the number of states with Petland stores has decreased to just 23, and 14 of those states have just one or two stores.

Ohio = 20
Florida = 16
Texas = 11
Illinois = 11
Georgia = 6
Pennsylvania = 5
Kansas = 4
Missouri = 4
Indiana = 3
6 states = 2 each (NV, MN, VA, WV, NY, WI)
8 states = 1 each (NE, IA, LA, MS, AL, NC, KY, MI)

Holiday Rally Recap

Did everyone have a nice Christmas? Or are you glad it is over? I just wanted to thank everyone for braving the weather and raising hell at the malls this year. I love campaigning in Macomb – our Eastsiders are great! I think everyone would agree we are receiving A LOT of support from the public.

From Thanksgiving to the New Year (six weeks) we….

had 28 members participate in pet store protests
protested 4 pet stores (Petland, The Family Puppy, Greenwood and Paws N Claws)
were out in the cold for 100 hours!
held 37 rallies in four cities (Flint, Novi, Eastpointe and Warren)

We now have three active boycott campaigns: Petland, The Family Puppy and now Paws N Claws. I am sure one of these stores is near you!

Check out our calendar for the next series of rallies. Paws N Claws (Jan – TBD), Petland Novi (Spring) and The Family Puppy (Spring).