Petland Canada – three cheers for seeing the light! We’ll be pleased to watch as you wind down selling operations. What about Petland USA? Are we not making our position clear enough, loud enough?
Petland USA in late October last year had a moment, through one franchisee, that may yet be seen as a pivoting point for this vilified corporate outlet for puppy mills. One lone Petland franchise in East Liberty, PA decided to stop selling pets and adopt from local shelters. Owners, a husband and wife team, said they could no longer go against what their customers wanted. (They were being picketed with don’t shop, adopt placards.) I called to ask what their business looks like after nearly a year.
Eric and Marci Caplan have had success in turning around their business model. It has not been without its wrinkles, but the shelters and the business worked toward a common goal and kept that uppermost. I spoke to Eric who offered that while it has not been a year since they started, they have adopted out 230 – 240 animals. The big issue this Petland USA franchise has to contend with is space. Since they operate with the idea that the dogs will not be in cages, but out during the day in play groups, their floorspace is limited and translates into handling dogs not more than 25-30 lbs. A local rescue has joined with the two shelters who have been supplying the Caplans to help find more of the small dogs needed. (There is a lack of small dogs on the East Coast, as discussed in my interview with Debbie Jacobs, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, and rescue worker.)
Petland, whether Petland Canada, Petland USA, or other country Master Franchisor (thanks, Eric!) sets the contract rules for each country’s franchisees. Long lobbied and protested by animal welfare and animal rights groups alike to adopt don’t shop, it is gratifying that at least one country’s franchisor, Canada, listened to their customers.
Some heinous things have happened at Petland USA. But since the stores are individually owned and operated, management will vary as will choices in the matter of selling pets. The US corporation has long claimed association with shelter pets through their Adopt-a- Pet program, counting over 250,000 pets adopted in the past 10 years. I have heard individual Petland store staff in the Chicagoland area make the claim they are working with local shelters, but refuse to name the shelters when asked so their claim can be confirmed. While some Petland stores like this one in PA are doing a very good thing, other stores appear to be riding on the backs of that success with no effort of their own to add.
I called Petland USA HQ in Ohio to speak to their media contact. I guess they don’t have one. I was shuffled off to a voicemail message which enumerated all the things Petland thinks it has done for pets, followed by what sounded like a warning to consumers: ‘if you want to know the true agenda of animal rights groups, go to humanewatch.org.’ To recommend a front group for dirty industry like lobbyist Rick Berman’s Humane Watch tells me everything I need to known about transparency at Petland USA. I did not get a callback. It looks like this battle will continue.
National Puppy Mill Day is September 17. Many bloggers will be writing on this topic. Please join in to make an impact. Some people are also planning to pay a polite and civil visit to their local Petland or other pet shop and ask them to please stop selling puppy mill pets, then leave. It would be great if you would share this on your social media and with your neighbors, the cashier at your grocery store – it can be fun to see what happens when you take action!