“Adopt, don’t shop” is a common saying among animal lovers and activists, encouraging prospective new pet owners to adopt rescue pets who are in shelters and need a good home, rather than breeders or pet stores.
It’s also important because some pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills, mass breeding facilities that don’t give the dogs any proper care: dogs in puppy mills are often kept in small cages and are vulnerable to sickness.
Petland, the largest pet store chain in the US with 131 stores, has been frequently accused of purchasing dogs from puppy mills, including an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States.
So when a Petland opened in their neighborhood, a troop of puppy-loving Girl Scouts decided to take action and make their voices heard.
According to KTUL, Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma Troop 304 protested their local Petland in Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend, citing the chain’s allegations of puppy mill support.
“Puppy mills breed dogs and they don’t really care for them. When you buy a puppy from Petland, you might be supporting puppy mills,” 11-year-old Sydney Huckaby told KTUL.
“When you adopt a puppy from Petland, you are keeping puppy mills in business. That means a lot of dogs suffer so you can bring home a cute puppy,” said Troop co-leader Tara Saylor.
Petland is the only large pet retail chain to continue selling animals. Investigations by the Humane Society of the United States have uncovered evidence that they get their dogs from puppy mills, and mislead consumers about the health and condition of the pets they are buying.
“As the only national pet store chain in the United States that still sells puppies, Petland is also the largest retailer of puppy mill dogs,” the Humane Society writes. “While Petland claims their puppies come only from reputable breeders and are in good health, our investigations have proven otherwise.”
“Petland stores across the nation routinely deceive consumers into believing the dogs they sell are raised humanely, vet-checked and guaranteed healthy by multiple warranties. But in reality, Petland stores regularly sell sick puppies. In many cases, families spend thousands of dollars trying to save the life of their new puppy.”
The Humane Society says they have received 1,400 complaints about Petland puppies. In 2018, the CDC linked an outbreak of a drug-resistant disease to puppies sold at Petland stores.
Petland has defended itself, accusing critics of “misinformation and inaccuracies,” according to FOX23. But it hasn’t stopped people from vocally opposing the chain and its sale of dogs.
When the Tulsa location opened last year, it ignited immediate controversy from local animal activists: “Unless you want a sick puppy and thousands of dollars in vet bills, you SHOULD NOT shop at Petland,” the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals wrote after the chain applied for a permit.
And the Girl Scouts are the latest, and youngest, pet lovers to oppose the store: “We’re doing this for the puppies so they can be happy,” 11-year-old Bree Sparks told KTUL.
Their actions have earned the girls praise from animal groups: “We are thrilled to see the next generation getting involved in the fight to end this cruel industry,” Bailing out Benji, an anti-puppy mill nonprofit, wrote.
While the store is still in operation, the five girls received the Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can receive, according to KTUL.
And hopefully, they changed a few minds — and put pressure on this Petland store to do its business more ethically.
Bravo to these girls for taking a stand and making their voices heard. We hope one day puppy mills are finally shut down for good.