NOVI, Mich. (FOX 2) - An undercover investigation at a Petland store in Novi revealed improper animal care and neglect that resulted in disease, injuries, and defects.
According to The Humane Society of The United States (HSUS), an investigator dressed as a kennel worker and a hidden camera "documented sick puppies, puppies with birth defects, dangerous conditions and improper care."
"They get driven in the back of dark vans, very little attention in cages that are stacked two or three high – for hours," said Blake Goodman, the Michigan Director of HSUS. "That means sometimes these puppies end up sitting in their own filth."
Since 2018, a total of 10 Petlands have been investigated, including the Novi location.
"Undercover footage at the Novi Petland store showed puppies with wounds, hacking coughs, nasal discharge or bloody stools. Other puppies showed signs of congenital defects, such as abnormal masses, soft spots on their skulls and other disorders," according to HSUS. "Instead of being treated for these conditions or placed in homes where they could receive special care, some of these dogs were instead sent back to the puppy mills where they were born."
Researchers also allegedly obtained transportation documents linking several other Michigan stores to problematic puppy mills.
"These are living animals that need care and attention in a constant way," Goodman said.
In response, Petland refuted the claims and released the statement below:
"Like clockwork, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has kicked off its annual fundraising season with allegations from an undercover HSUS operative against a family-owned business. Each year, HSUS, which does not operate a single pet shelter, nor provide any support to 98-percent of U.S. humane societies and shelters (Center for the Environment and Welfare report, "Struggling Shelters," Nov. 2023) publicizes its homegrown "investigation" to get press and draw in unsuspecting donors.
In this year’s HSUS campaign, they have targeted a family-owned and operated Petland location in Novi, Michigan. The HSUS undercover "investigation" charges a number of speculative thoughts by the undercover operative who began working in the store in July 2023. The woman worked at the store for approximately two months, finding very little to show for her time there.
Items cited in the alleged investigation included zero quantitative data, many accounts of hearsay and sensationalized statements. The undercover operative for the HSUS took a photo of a French Bulldog with "cherry eye" a very common condition for the breed, which is being used to exploit the puppy in the organization’s social media posts and other fundraising publicity. This puppy, like others who may have this condition, underwent a common corrective procedure performed by the store’s state-licensed veterinarian.
The campaign material includes a number of allegations that are purely false. A few of the most egregious falsehoods we want to address include:
- An interior kennel photo with a caption that cites hearsay stating that "at least one puppy who fell and broke a leg." In the 20+ years the store has been in the family, a puppy has never broken a leg by falling from a kennel; and
- Petland Novi sources 100-percent of its puppies from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) breeders, with no violations in the previous two years, and some hobby breeders.Allegations of sick puppies are also scattered through the HSUS campaign. The health and wellbeing of our pets is Petland’s number one priority. Petland abides by all local, state, and federal regulations when it comes to the care of its pets. Our highly qualified state-licensed consulting veterinarians check puppies weekly; and more frequently if required. All care is documented for each pet. Pets undergoing treatment for any illness are not available for our guests until they have been cleared by the veterinarian.
Finally, the undercover operative provided HSUS with video of a distributor acting in an unprofessional manner. Shortly after that incident, the owners of Petland Novi terminated the transport company for its unprofessional demeanor."