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Old February 24 2013, 12:28 AM   #1
Ro_Laren
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How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Sorry, this is a long post…

A couple months ago, my family put their dog to sleep. I’ve been pushing my parents to get a new dog, partially because I feel like they are safer when they have a dog (someone tried to break into our house before). Since I was in town, I went with my mom to a couple of Humane Society adoption fairs, but we didn’t see something we like. Since my family has always had Labrador Retriever mixes, we want to stick to that breed. They aren’t really guard dogs, but if a robber isn’t a dog person, then he/she might not know that and might get scared away just ‘cause they see a big dog. Because of health problems with our labs in the past, my parents really prefer to get a purebred lab, but they’re expensive.

Anywho, I asked my mom to go Petland today. For those who have never heard of this store, it is a popular chain. We saw a female chocolate lab that my mom instantly fell in love with because she had such a calm personality. I liked her too, but her calm personality scare me a little – what if she is sick? Later in the day, we later dragged my dad into the store. He doesn’t really dog right now (‘cause they shed), but noticed how much my mom loved the dog. He decided to think about it and we all returned home. Later, I looked up reviews on Petland and almost had the sites had bad / low reviews. First of all, people kept mentioning puppy mills (for definition, see Wikipedia article on puppy mills). While I know about puppy mills, the cuteness of this dog made me want to ignore what I know. Second of all, people kept mentioning probs with the dogs they got from Petland. Third of all, people mentioned problems with the warranty (faxing paperwork back and forth).

My dad decided to return to Petland this evening and brought me and one of my sisters. The dog was still very cute and perked up for a while, before falling fast asleep. After talking to the salesman, my dad got them to lower the price from $1,399 to $1,299 and they said they would waive the $129 microchip activation fee (they didn’t mention this fee in any of the previous visits). My dad said we would go ahead and get the dog, but he didn’t really seem to be into it. He said it was the price. I kept thinking about the reviews I read and started feeling very unsettled about getting a dog from that store. Part of the prob is ‘cause I thought about my aunt’s purebred labs. A brother and sister got together and the girl got pregnant. My aunt sold some dogs and one had major neurological problems from the inbreeding. He had to be put to sleep. Now, if Petland sells dogs from puppy mills, then what is to stop them from being inbred dogs?

The following made me uncomfortable:
  • The on-line Petland reviews that I read. None of those reviews were for my local Petland, but what if the company on a whole is kinda shady?? But on the other hand, if it is that shady, then how are they still in business?
  • The saleman told me they received the dog without the papers… so we’d have to wait a week or two to see the dogs papers. I.E., you are buying a dog without knowing who its parents are… are they brother and sister? I know you have the same dog when you buy a dog at the Humane Society, but those dogs don’t cost $1,299.
  • I asked if the dogs were OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America) certified. That is to make sure they don’t have probs like hip dysplasia (a common prob with labs). The salesman’s’ response was that the vet already checked out the dog (aka, not the same thing as being OFA certified).
  • I wanted to see the salesman’s response, so I said that I was worried and wanted to make sure they puppies weren’t from puppy mills. His response was, they are from breeders. I think it is illegal to sell dogs from puppy mills).
  • The salesman didn’t really seem to want us to read the warranty before buying the dog, but we convinced him to show it to us. The warranty for the dog was a 3 year pro-rated warranty. It was void if the dog was not checked out by one certain vet in the area (who I am guessing must have a contract with Petland). If the vet say probs with the dog, you wouldn’t get a refund, but free treatment from that vet for 14 days. The warranty also covered genetic / hereditary problems that affected the quality of life of the dog. It was pro-rated – it covered 100% the first year, 50% the second year, and 25% the third year. You couldn’t get your money back, but either exchange the pet (first year) or get credit at the store. The warranty is obviously one sided and only benefits Petland.
Like I said, I started to feel really uneasy about getting this dog, especially since it is so expensive. There would be no refunds if there were probs with the dog. While my dad didn’t seem as uneasy as me, he would still buy it. They ended up not getting the dog because of the uneasiness that I felt.

Did I do the right thing? Purebred labs can be very expensive. Petland’s price is comparable to purebreds that you can get straight from the breeder (if you are lucky, you could find a cheaper one). My thinking is, why not find a nice breeder that already has papers available? They could lie about their dog to, but at least you can see the dog’s owners eye to eye. Hopefully, you can see the living conditions of the dog and its parents as well. I can also ask my aunt for breeder recommendations since she knows people in the AKC dog world (her female dog is now fixed).

What are your thoughts? I think I upset my family by getting their hopes up by taking them there and making my mom fall in love with a dog just to later say that I don’t feel comfortable with buying the dog. Maybe the dog will be perfectly fine and I felt this way for nothing.
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Old February 24 2013, 12:32 AM   #2
Kestra
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

I don't think anyone should buy a puppy from a pet store, honestly. Adopt a rescue. If you are completely set on getting a purebred, at least find a reputable breeder. You want to get a dog from someone who actually cares about the animal. And there are so many animals who need homes, there's no reason to spend crazy money.
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Old February 24 2013, 12:34 AM   #3
Colonel Green
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Reputable breeders do not sell puppies to pet stores. If you see a dog for sale in a pet store the breeder is disreputable, period.

There is, of course, a range of disreputability.
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Old February 24 2013, 12:37 AM   #4
Ro_Laren
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

We've always gotten rescue dogs, but I think my family is just burnt on the probs they have gone through. Of course, dogs can't live forever, but our last two dogs got cancer and we had to put them to sleep. My parent's are hoping that if they get a purebred, they won't have to worry about as many health problems. We also put a cat to sleep a couple years ago because of cancer. Another one of our cat's is going through renal failure and our other cat has severe weight issues, but we don't know what is wrong. My parents are just scared. = (
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Old February 24 2013, 01:08 AM   #5
auntiehill
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Purebreds get cancer just as often as non-purebreeds. In fact, in-breeding causes more health issues, not fewer.

And if you really spent over ONE THOUSAND dollars on a family pet, you really got taken, not to mention to you have to use THEIR vet and not one of your own choosing.
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Old February 24 2013, 01:09 AM   #6
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
We've always gotten rescue dogs, but I think my family is just burnt on the probs they have gone through. Of course, dogs can't live forever, but our last two dogs got cancer and we had to put them to sleep. My parent's are hoping that if they get a purebred, they won't have to worry about as many health problems.
Wouldn't it be better, then, for the dog to deal with those health problems in a loving, caring home, rather than a kennel?
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Old February 24 2013, 01:30 AM   #7
Sephiroth
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

And here you get into the morality of buying a pet. You're not buying a car, or insurance, you are buying a life, and your buying it from a company that treats it like a used car or insurance. Personally, I don't think it's right, but, an animal shouldn't suffer. The only way to stop it is to make it unprofitable, which means not buying from them, and letting the innocent creatures these places peddle die.
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Old February 24 2013, 01:36 AM   #8
Shanndee
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

I have to agree with those who have stated that you just don't buy a dog from a pet store. They are ALL puppy mill animals, to a greater or lesser degree.

If you really want a pure bred you have to do the research to find a reputable breeder. These people will insist on interviewing you to decide if you are good enough to purchase one of their dogs. They will have the health records of all of their dogs, so you can view the medical family tree of the individual that is up for your adoption.

As stated before...all animals, especially elderly ones, are prone to cancer.

It is a very big decision, but it is a 12 to 16 year commitment (on average) so it is important to take your time.

Everything you described in your OP is setting off alarm bells for me. Proceed with caution. Good luck.
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Old February 24 2013, 03:51 AM   #9
Ood Sigma
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

As for hip dysplasia, I am not sure the age of the dog you were looking at, but sometimes that can not be determined when they are puppies. One of our dogs has very bad dysplasia, but she looked OK when she was a puppy. It's just that as she grew, her hip joints stayed small and now the socket is too small for the joint. You can literally hear her bones pop when she walks. Thank goodness she is not in any pain from it now, and we are giving her glucosamine supplements so that she will stay pain-free as long as possible, but the truth is that as she gets older (over 10 they said... she's almost 3 now) it will probably start to bother her more and more. Just a warning to be careful... the closer to 6 months that the dog is, the more sure they can be that it won't have it, but then of course you really miss more of the "puppy" time.
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Old February 24 2013, 08:25 AM   #10
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

I say ALWAYS go to a rescue or a shelter. All of my animals have been rescues - dogs and cats - and they've ALL been wonderful pets/friends. They're loving and appreciative of the good home they have. Many rescues also have behavioralists who will help match your family to the appropriate dog who will be good match.
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Old February 24 2013, 08:52 AM   #11
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Shanndee wrote: View Post
I have to agree with those who have stated that you just don't buy a dog from a pet store. They are ALL puppy mill animals, to a greater or lesser degree.
Agreed.
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Old February 24 2013, 11:26 AM   #12
JoeZhang
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Timby wrote: View Post
Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
We've always gotten rescue dogs, but I think my family is just burnt on the probs they have gone through. Of course, dogs can't live forever, but our last two dogs got cancer and we had to put them to sleep. My parent's are hoping that if they get a purebred, they won't have to worry about as many health problems.
Wouldn't it be better, then, for the dog to deal with those health problems in a loving, caring home, rather than a kennel?
Surely better to kill the animal early?
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Old February 24 2013, 04:17 PM   #13
Lumos Ziyal
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Good decision, not to buy from a pet store. If your parents are set on a lab or lab mix, look online for a lab rescue group. Petfinders is a great site -- you can search for animals by breed and location, and a lot of rescue groups use it. I used it some years ago to adopt a beautiful pure-bred German Shepherd Dog, papers and all.
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Old February 24 2013, 05:43 PM   #14
Spot's Meow
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
We've always gotten rescue dogs, but I think my family is just burnt on the probs they have gone through. Of course, dogs can't live forever, but our last two dogs got cancer and we had to put them to sleep. My parent's are hoping that if they get a purebred, they won't have to worry about as many health problems. We also put a cat to sleep a couple years ago because of cancer. Another one of our cat's is going through renal failure and our other cat has severe weight issues, but we don't know what is wrong. My parents are just scared. = (
I hate to break it to you, but unfortunately any pet may have these same health problems, whether they are purebred or not. That is a terrible reason to only want a purebred, and to waste so much money when there are free and nearly free dogs in shelters all over the place that may be very healthy and never get cancer. I wish there was a way to predict whether your dog will die early, causing you grief, but that is just life. There is no way to know. If your parents are truly burnt out about it, then their best bet is to not get a pet at all. If they really do want another one, then there is nothing wrong with getting a dog from a shelter, whether it's a lab or something else. It will be a hell of a lot cheaper and you will know it didn't come from a puppy mill.
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Old February 24 2013, 05:48 PM   #15
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Re: How do u know if a pet store is a puppy mill?? U heard of Petland?

I agree with everyone else saying you should always adopt from a shelter/rescue. There are so many pets out there who need good homes. Why spend a few thousand dollars on a purebred or boutique mix? Save that money to take care of your loving and awesome shelter animal.
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