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Humane Society Accuses Florence Petland of Wrongdoing

The Humane Society of the United States released the results of what it called an undercover investigation of the Petland store in Florence.

The corporate-owned store on Mall Road was the site of covering up diseases affecting puppies, the animal rights group claimed.

Petland disputes the charges.

"The Humane Society of the United States’ new undercover investigation of a Petland corporate store in Florence, KY found puppies with parasites and bacterial infections such as campylobacter, which can spread to humans," the Humane Society said. "Some puppies were not receiving needed treatment before being sold to the public. In fact, six people have come down with campylobacter after contact with the Florence store's puppies this year alone."

"Our number one priority is the health and well-being of our pets," Petland said in a statement. "We once again find it disturbing that HSUS is more concerned about headlines than true animal welfare. This is evident by their secret releases of reports to the media."

The Humane Society placed an undercover investigator. The organization has targeted multiple Petland stores across the country for investigation. It said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked more than a hundred cases of human campylobacter bacterial infections to contact with puppies from Petland stores, resulting in some people being hospitalized.

"The CDC closed its investigation in 2018, but our investigation found that some people are still getting sick to this day, according to records obtained from the Kentucky health department and other sources," the Humane Society said.

Six such cases have been directly tied to the Florence store in 2019, the Humane Society alleged.

"Yet our investigation found that Petland was downplaying risks and sometimes failing to have sick puppies tested for the disease. A manager specifically told our buyer when she purchased a puppy, "it's not campylobacter," when the puppy did, in fact, test positive for campylobacter and also giardia that same day. The manager also told our buyer that the puppy had been given a stool test, but provided no record of such a test," the Humane Society said.

The animal rights group goes on to say that it believes that Petland was covering up disease outbreaks and hiding them from the public.

"We were specifically sold a puppy we were told was healthy even though Petland knew the animal had been sick for weeks. We also found that Petland was covering up other disease outbreaks, such as distemper and parvovirus," the Humane Society said.

Petland addressed the accusations in a prepared statement:

Both the Boone County and the Kentucky State animal control have conducted routine unannounced inspections at the store and have found no issues. Additionally, Petland Florence has a state-licensed consulting veterinarian that checks on the pets weekly and establishes all treatments and protocols for the kennel.

Petland was made aware of this “investigation” by the media who could not divulge the specific details of the report.

Most people unfortunately don’t realize that HSUS doesn’t operate a single pet shelter and is not your local humane society. Yet, once again, HSUS claims to be the experts in kennel health management. At Petland, our kennel health and management is under the direction of a state -licensed veterinarian and that is the case in Florence.

As for the claims: 

Puppies at the Petland location in Florence have been found to have campylobacter, distemper and parvovirus.
Response: Dogs from any source (shelter, rescue, breeder or pet store) can contract these three illnesses. In fact, it is not uncommon to see major outbreaks in shelter populations. CDC has stated multiple times that Campylobacter can be found in any dog, regardless of source. They also found that Petland was following all recommended protocols and were unable to find a direct source. Cases of Canine Distemper Virus and Parvovirus occasionally occur and all protocols and treatments for such cases are dictated by our state-licensed consulting veterinarian.

Customers at the Florence location were not properly warned about the diseases that the puppies may carry.

Response: Petland has followed all recommendations and protocols as directed by the CDC and our consulting veterinarians both publicly and in our stores. Petland posts information in the store about possible zoonotic diseases as directed by the CDC and has multiple hand sanitization stations throughout the store.

Some puppies that were visibly ill were not taken to veterinarians for treatment

Response: Our highly-qualified state-licensed consulting veterinarian checks the puppies weekly and more frequently, if required.  If a puppy needs medical care, our animal care technicians contact the vet for an exam. All of the care is documented for each pet. Additionally, both the Boone County and the Kentucky Health Departments conduct unannounced inspections and have visited the Florence store at least 4 times in the last 4 months and found no issues and no violations.

In one case, a store manager told a prospective customer that the bloody diarrhea exhibited in one Goldendoodle puppy was due to stress, not Campylobacter, and that a stool test had been performed to determine that the puppy was healthy. The puppy later tested positive for campylobacter and giardia, and the Petland veterinarian’s office had no record of a stool test on the puppy.

Response: The only Goldendoodle with diarrhea we are aware of was, in fact, checked by the vet when it arrived and was healthy. The vet concluded that the diarrhea was a result of nervousness and no other symptoms ever developed. No positive tests for Campylobacter or Giardia were received by the veterinarian or from the customer. In fact, no complaints or claims with any Goldendoodle with Campylobacter or Giardia have been presented to Petland Florence in the last six months. The puppy was admittedly purchased by HSUS and taken two hours away to an HSUS-affiliated veterinarian who has publicly testified against Petland. As CDC has documented, Campylobacter can be found in dogs from every source. Giardia is also a parasite that lives in the small intestines of a high percentage of dogs.

At least six people became ill after handling puppies at the Florence location in 2019, with two being hospitalized

Response: According to the CDC, Campylobacter is the most common source of illness in humans, accounting for more than 1.5 million illnesses, and most commonly contracted from undercooked chicken. Petland was made aware of four employees who contracted a form of Campylobacter, but received no clear identification of the source. None were hospitalized. All of the employees went through required training on zoonotic diseases.

You can read the Humane Society's report here and Petland's response here.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher