Petland Adopts Shelter Dogs?

by Mary Haight on October 26, 2011

Petland adopts shelter dogs is not the association at the forefront of animal advocates minds when they think “Petland” –Petland adopts not surprising given the alleged corporate handout to franchisees advising they use Hunte Corporation’s list of approved commercial puppy mills to buy their “stock”.   What is surprising is that, having reported the news back in 2008 Petland Sued As Nation’s Largest Supporter of Puppy Mills and the more than 35 other subsequent stories on Petland, pet shops and puppy mills, I found myself in the midst of a good story on individual Petland franchisees. Petland adopts? Something different was happening.

I had nearly forgotten a post from last year, Petland One Store Sees the Light…, referring to Eric and Marcie Caplan who changed their business model to all adoption; the news about Petland Canada and their new policy to stop selling pets made me want more answers. After no response from HQ and getting an update from the Caplans, I contacted the rescue who was helping them and found Pamela Hoebeck. From there I was knocked into an alternate reality.

Petland Adopts,  Local Shelters Don’t Help

The information provided by this decades-long animal rescuer shocked me.  Shelters and even Animal Care and Control in PA were letting animals die rather than allowing Petland make a donation and take them for adoption. I had a hard time hearing that. Then I had a cynical laugh at myself – I had been caught believing that other area shelters had an approach similar to those in my area.  Big mistake – huge!  And I’m now rethinking my own area…

I heard about the other two stores in PA carrying some shelter and rescue animals. Both store owners wanted to be clear they were not 100% adoption. Only one was willing to participate in a recorded interview. It turned out to be Eric Caplan’s brother, Alan. This was exciting to me.  It was messy. Like life…and change. [When we think some issue is black and white, we are often choosing to believe a lie. It’s easier than all that weighing and judging.]

Petland Adopts – Adopt a Shelter Dog Community Response

Alan Caplan, owner of Pittsburgh Mills Petland, and I had a fast paced less than nine minute interview which served as an informative and great front piece to the interview with Pamela Hoebeck, President of Pet Match Inc (don’t try to find her website, she does not have one yet and there’s a OMG “we ship internationally” puppy mill using that name as a .com).

When change begins do we encourage it or shun the effort just because Petland’s corporate name is anathema to so many? I thought we were working to convert pet shops?  Maybe PA shelters and rescues did not get that memo or took it as an all or nothing directive.  We love Eric and Marci Caplan for taking that leap of faith, though I expect we will find different stores doing it differently depending on local cooperation and risk tolerance of each franchisee.

Adopting a shelter dog from Petland may appear to fly in the face of the ASPCA effort to get people on board with not shopping at stores that sell pets. I think some will see it that way, but others might see this:  Adopt a shelter dog or cat from Petland if that’s what you want to do – then ask the owner to consider converting, relating if they do you will buy your pet supplies through them. I think that makes a strong statement that is meaningful to an owner.

Petland adopts shelter pets is a headline that could cause some whiplash. Listen to the podcast.  The contact numbers and emails for both interview guests are on the podcast.  What do you think – care to share your thoughts?

13 comments
Susan L.
Susan L.

The 'rescue' in this story (not mentioning any names) takes sick dogs over the line from West Virginia. They take dogs from kill shelters and give these dogs to fosters until Petland can take them, and then that 'rescue' abandons the fosters when the dogs get sick. When you try to give them back to the 'rescue', they say that the dog doesn't really belong to them. Your stuck either paying for the dog's bills, or making the decision to put the dog to sleep.

Pamela
Pamela

I'm glad you and Edie are working to promote a more nuanced view of this issue. Obviously I don't know what transpired between the Petland franchise and local shelters but I'm not surprised that a shelter or rescue wouldn't want to give dogs to a pet store in exchange for a donation so they could be adopted. Most rescues take their commitment to find the right homes for dogs very seriously. And I can't see many rescue workers wanting to give control of that decision to a store that also sells dogs for high profits. In my area, the local Petsmart has a cat adoption center all the time. But decisions about homes for the cats are made by the local SPCA. They also host dog adoption days where shelter volunteers bring dogs to meet people. Once again, the decision about who gets to adopt the dog remains with the agency committed to finding responsible homes for pets, not the for-profit business. If Petland franchisees really want to reach out to promote finding homes for homeless dogs and cats, perhaps they would be willing to allow shelter workers to run a program from their store instead of buying (oops, donating) pups from the shelter to adopt out themselves.

Kristine
Kristine

This is such a tough call. I don't want to support any business that has anything at all to do with puppy mills but at the same time, I do want to encourage people like Caplan. What he is doing is unique and I hope eventually he will be able to build a better relationship with rescues so he won't have to sell animals at all, just adopt. I agree very strongly with the point you made about city pounds. Even if you don't personally want to shop in the store, it also feels wrong to turn away an opportunity to have more animals adopted. Especially if those same animals will be killed otherwise. Petland is a gigantic company with stores all over the continent. They have many more chances to reach the public than small and fractured animal welfare groups. If we ever want to increase our scope and provide better education, if we ever want to reach the people with important information, the people who don't already care, partnering with pet stores like Petland may be a great way to do that. It does feel a little bit hypocritical, but at the same time, it's all about the animals, right?

Robyn Busch
Robyn Busch

If you want to "buy" a purebred dog or cat, it's not the local pet shop that would be your best choice. Personally, I have 3 small dogs -- "rescue babies" and feel that "puppy mills" should be totally out of business!! It is shameful. Kudos to pet stores - ie. Petsmart and Petco-- that host monthly adoption days for the local community to get animals. In our local area, one Saturday of each month is set aside for said adoptions -- 1st Sat. is cat day, the next Sat. is kitten day, next Sat. is small dogs, and finally big dog day. You pay (in our city) $175.00 which includes all shots, spaying or neutering, and vet check up. The money goes to the rescue people that bring the animals for adoption. Petsmart only provides the "place" for people to meet and adopt.

melF
melF

Okaaayyyyyy. Now that I understand this whole discussion more clearly... Nope. Can't support. You either do pet adoption or you do puppy mills. Not both. I'll support any Petland that completely changes over, but not one that continues to create the pet over-population problem while claiming to be helping to end it. Is this really guarding against making perfect the enemy of the good? I think it’s the enemy trying to shade a black and white issue with a little gray so they can have their cake and eat it too. Tell you what, give me a Petland franchisee who's willing to make a committment to an end date for when they will stop selling puppy mill puppies and then I might be willing to support them, but until then I would walk away. Otherwise, what guarantee would I have that this store, or any Petland store, would stop selling puppy mill puppies? Now I get why rescues and shelters are walking away too.

Lorie Huston, DVM
Lorie Huston, DVM

Interesting insights in these interviews, Mary. It's encouraging to hear about at least a few Petland stores featuring adoptable animals and being so successful at it too. It's definitely a step in the right direction, though much more still needs to be done. I don't understand the thinking of the shelters in the area turning their backs. What a shame! Really pretty disgraceful.

Pup Fan
Pup Fan

I just read Edie's post on this... I think I'm going to have to chew on it for a while. As I noted over there, it feels a bit like making a deal with the devil, but at the same time change is a process. It doesn't happen instantly. I think your point about that is a good one - the change from selling to adoption won't be instantaneous. And the idea that animals might die rather than be put up for adoption at Petland is extremely upsetting. I'm going to have to sit with this one and mull it over for a while I think.

@CindylusMuse
@CindylusMuse

I think this might be very confusing for many, myself included! We think of Petland as the bad guy, yet here you've introduced us to a store owner who has spent years working with rescued pets. Of course, the issue of additionally selling puppies that might come from a mill is awfully sensitive. Good idea about withholding purchasing goods from them until they stop selling puppies! I guess I take issue with all the Petland (and other) stores that promote "adopting" as a mere sales tactic for their mill puppies. Unfortunately, it's hard for the consumer to know where the truth lies; we become skeptics.. It's wonderful that you have provided us with stories filled with such hope and positive actions! Kudos to Eric, Marcie and Alan Caplan, and Pamela Hoebeck - and best wishes for success in their endeavors!

Trackbacks

  1. […] is the discussion that is going on over at Animal Cafe and Dancing Dog Blog and Will My Dog Hate […]

  2. […] The irony is that while rescues make hay of how great PetSmart is, they continue to turn their backs on Petland franchises that allow rescued animals to be adopted through their stores. […]

Previous post:

Next post: