BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - An undercover investigation by a national animal rights advocacy group has found a ‘trifecta of horrors’ at the Petland store in Florence, Ky., the group says.
Among the ‘horrors’ revealed are sick puppies purportedly dying from deadly, preventable diseases, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which performed the investigation.
(The HSUS is its own organization and is not affiliated with the local Humane Society.)
The diseases include distemper and parvovirus, the group says, as well as campylobacter, a bacterial infection that causes nausea, fever and stomach distress and can be passed to humans, possibly leading to hospitalization.
“Unsuspecting customers are not only buying a sick dog, but they may be exposing their families to illness just by interacting with the puppies in the store,” HSUS Senior Director John Goodwin said.
Petland isn’t buying it.
“Our number one priority is the health and well-being of our pets,” the company stated in a prepared response released Thursday. “We once again find it disturbing that HSUS is more concerned about headlines than true animal welfare.”
The Florence Petland is the eighth Petland store HSUS has investigated in the last two years, the group confirms. It is also the first corporate-owned store under their investigation.
“We went to this store because we wanted to see if a corporate-owned Petland franchise had the same problems,” Goodwin said, “and they did.”
The group says at least six people have reported becoming ill with campylobacter after handling Florence Petland puppies in 2019. They also say some puppies with distemper were euthanized and others moved to a new Petland in Indiana.
Petland denies anyone was sent to the hospital with campylobacter.
It also says dogs from any source can contract illnesses such as campylobacter and distemper, and that CDC inspections have found the company follows all recommended protocols.
“Both the Boone County and the Kentucky State animal control have conducted routine unannounced inspections at the store and have found no issues,” Petland’s prepared response said. “Additionally, Petland Florence has a state-licensed consulting veterinarian that checks on the pets weekly and establishes all treatments and protocols for the kennel.
Then there is the case of Jasper, a goldendoodle HSUS went undercover to try to purchase. The dog had been suffering from bloody diarrhea for about three weeks, the group said, but the undercover shopper was told he was ‘perfect’ and ‘healthy.’
HSUS claims it then took Jasper to an independent veterinarian, where he tested positive for campylobacter and giardia and received a body condition score of 2 out of 9, being just ‘skin and bones.’
Petland disputes the findings.
“The only goldendoodle with diarrhea we are aware of was, in fact, checked by the vet when it arrived and was healthy,” the Petland response said. “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.”
A spokesperson for HSUS told FOX19 NOW the group had turned over what they say they found to Boone County Animal Care and Control.
The county says they are actively investigating to see if there are any criminal violations at the state or county level.