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Petland Puppy Mill Suit Dismissed

Discussion in 'Pet News' started by testmg80, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. testmg80

    testmg80 PetForums VIP

    Jul 29, 2008
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    Action alleged dogs raised in squalid conditions

    By Jon Hood

    August 10, 2009

    A class action lawsuit alleging that Petland and a Missouri dog breeder conspired to sell sick puppies has been dismissed by a federal judge in Phoenix.

    The suit, filed in March by the Humane Society on behalf of Petland customers, alleged that the pet superstore led customers to believe that its puppies were healthy animals that came from reputable breeders. In fact, according to the suit, Petland-provided dogs were often raised in squalid puppy mills, such as the Hunte Corporation, and many were unhealthy as a result.

    Investigators for the Humane Society reportedly found that many Petland-bound dogs were bred in cruel and inhumane environments. The complaint alleged that puppies were "living in filthy, barren cages reeking of urine, with inadequate care and socialization."

    The suit alleged counts under a federal racketeering statute and the consumer protection laws of 20 states.

    Petland vehemently denied the allegations when the suit was filed. At the time, Petland vice president Joe Watson released a statement insisting that Petland "offer healthy, happy and well-socialized pets to our customers," and that the company's desire to please customers means "that we would do everything possible to ensure that we provide healthy puppies."

    Petland says that it screens its puppies for disease and provides all necessary veterinary care before approving them for sale to the public.

    Petland and the Hunte Corporation filed motions to dismiss the case in May. In agreeing to throw the case out, U.S. District Judge David Campbell said that the plaintiffs failed to prove that Petland's actions, or lack thereof, led to any illnesses from which the puppies suffered. This lack of causation proved fatal to the case.

    Campbell also said that allegations against Hunte, the puppy mill, had not been sufficiently proven. The judge's decision noted that the plaintiffs failed to "show[] that they have suffered an injury at the hands of Hunte."

    Hunte's website touts it as a company "where puppies come first." The company boasts that "ince 1991, we have been committed to providing retailers throughout North America with the happiest, healthiest purebred and designed hybrid puppies available." The website further claims that Hunte strictly follows guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the state of Missouri.

    On Saturday, Petland lashed out at the Humane Society, claiming that the organization filed the suit "in furtherance of its fundraising and media campaign, seeking to end the sale of animals through pet stores."

    According to its website, the Humane Society is "the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization." The society lists among its many goals singling out and eliminating puppy mills, "where dogs are treated not like family but like production machines." The organization helps advocate for less visible humane societies at the local level, and indeed many states have their own humane societies.

    Jonathan Lovvorn, a Humane Society attorney, said he plans to refile the case with additional information gleaned during the society's investigation.

    Last week, Petland faced additional negative publicity when an Akron employee posted a Facebook photo showing her smiling while holding up two drowned rabbits. Petland closed the store and the employee, Liz Carlisle, is facing animal-cruelty charges. Carlisle, 20, claims she drowned the rabbits because they were injured.

    Read more: Petland Puppy Mill Suit Dismissed

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