PETLAND: Who’s the Sick Puppy Here?

puppy2 Is 200-store retailer Petland a leader in the fight against inhumane puppy mills, or the nation’s largest puppy mill customer?

Is owning a Petland store “an exhilarating and rewarding experience” made possible by an “experienced team of professionals” or a blatant scam run by a company promoting a doomed investment for its own gain?

The dog fight that’s developing between Petland and its detractors would make Michael Vick squeamish.

The Humane Society Claims Petland is “the nation’s largest retail supporter of puppy mills”

The Petland franchise chain is America’s largest chain of puppy-selling pet stores, with 200 stores in 31 states and several foreign countries.  Petland claims to be an advocate for animal welfare and a leader in the fight against inhumane “puppy mills.”

The Humane Society of the United States tells a different story, claiming that Petland Inc. is “the nation’s largest retail supporter of puppy mills.”  On their website, they provide a video showing puppy mill cruelty and asking supporters to write to Petland to ask them to stop selling puppies altogether.

Petland Claims The Humane Society of the US is Lying

Petland counters with claims of their own on the Petland website, accusing HSUS of using unrelated footage to attack Petland:  “Petland is outraged that HSUS would intentionally use video footage of unrelated kennels in the report to try to mislead the general public into believing these facilities have a connection to Petland.”

Further, it accuses of the HSUS of misleading consumers and donors into thinking it is the parent organization of all local humane societies when, in fact, “they are NOT, and very little support in the form of dollars, actually makes it to the local level.”

Petland claims that when it comes to animal welfare, it is part of the solution.

Failed Petland Franchisees Are Also on the Attack

According to the Petland franchise website, when you become a Petland franchisee, “The Petland corporate staff has one focus: your success. From the president to the receptionist, everyone’s job is rooted in the support of the strategic partners.”

However, former Petland Inc. franchisees are suing the Ohio-based franchisor for fraud, alleging that the business model doesn’t work, that the stores are doomed from the start, and they sell them anyway.

According to a recent BizJournal story:

Columbus-based Luper Neidenthal & Logan and two New York firms filed a suit on behalf of two lead plaintiffs – franchisees in Nashville, Tenn., whose stores have gone out of business. The suit is seeking class-action status on behalf of all franchisees since November 1993, and asks for relief of about $20 million. It also seeks cancellation of franchise agreements, said Greg Melick, a Luper Neidenthal attorney representing the plaintiffs.

Melick estimates the average investment per franchisee totals up to $250,000, and the firms have been in contact with more than 40 franchisees.

The lead plaintiffs claim Petland fraudulently induced them to start a pet store when it knew, or should have known, the shops couldn’t succeed. A major allegation from franchisees, Melick said, is that pets supplied to the stores through Petland’s vendors were sick or dying.

Melick compared the franchisees’ problem to a restaurateur opening a new business and sending dozens of people to the hospital for food poisoning in its first weekend.

“For a large group of these franchisees, sick puppies is a problem when they open,” he said. “You just can never recover.”

This battle is just getting started and will, undoubtedly, be both public and messy… bad news for the franchise owners of those 200 stores.

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