Karen Paul worked in the animal rescue field for many years. She would check up on the “inmates” as she called them at Petland in Kennesaw, Georgia. Those visits always left her feeling haunted by what she saw.
“Every time I went into the store, there was always something wrong with the animals, either a sick dog or an animal showing injury,” she tells The Dodo.
She would often find these animals weak; trembling and excessively shy, runny noses, diarrhea and have various ailments and in very poor conditions, mental and physical.
Pet stores that sell dogs mostly get them from puppy mills, and most of these mills are completely legal. Being a USDA licensed, basically requires breeders to keep animals in a cage that is large enough for them to turn around, sadly not to much more than this…
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) notes on its website, “under USDA standards, it is legal to keep dozens or even hundreds of breeding dogs in small wire cages for their entire lives with only the basics of food, water and rudimentary shelter.”
Puppy mills have up to 1,000 dogs they are breeding. They are in cages, stacked upon more cages and they spend their entire lives, in a cage!
Petland in an Ohio based company with over 130 stores across America. Paul isn’t the only one that has made alligations of Petland being linked to puppy mills. HSUS has launched investigations into the company dating as far back as 2008, claiming animals from mills are being sold to unsuspecting customers. The websiteConsumer Affairs has tallied nearly 500 complaints from customers, giving the company an overall score of one out of five.
A Great Dane at her local Petland is when she finally decided to do something about it! The puppy, she says, was in such obvious pain he was “walking on his joints.” This was in 2014.
Since then, Paul founded a Facebook group pointedly dubbed “Shut down Petland in Kennesaw, Ga“, now there is over 8,000 member!
She gathered testimonials from dozens of customers at both the Kennesaw location and a second Petland store in Sarasota, Florida. Brad Parker owns both stores didn’t do much to defend the allegation. Rylee Barr, a former employee at the Sarasota location, told The Dodo last December she saw puppies “coming in multiple times a week or who were sick and had deformities.”
“We have irrefutable proof that she is making falsehoods,” Jenn Kennedy, a manager at Petland Sarasota, told The Dodo.
The company appears to be making efforts to clean up its online image. Paul says she was given copies of letters the company sent to customers whose animals died shortly after buying them from Petland. A letter from Petland to a customer whose pet died after purchase states the store will issue a refund for the pet’s loss, but with conditions:
“You must agree to cease/refrain from all sorts of slander on all platforms of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp!, Instagram or any such venue.”
These letter goes on to prohibit customers from contacting the Better Business Bureau as well as the office of the Attorney General. “It astounds me what they are doing to try and cover up what’s going on.”
Letter from a pet for sale at Petland, if they could write on:
Paul said this is an attempt to gag the store’s customers.
And then she got sued…
Parker, owner of the Petland stores in Kennesaw and Sarasota, has launched civil litigation against Paul. She can’t talk about the ongoing case in detail, she says it involves defamation, libel, slander , which is about as much as you can get sued for on social media.
Cantor Colburn law firm is representing Parker and said Paul’s allegations are “false and defamatory”!
“Karen Paul was unable to provide a scintilla of evidence to prove that the statements in the complaint were true and made in good faith,” the email reads. “Petland Kennesaw has never interrupted or harassed Karen Paul’s protests or other activities, because it believes in the First Amendment Rights afforded to all citizens. However, Petland Kennesaw maintains that the First Amendment is not a license to defame a business in order to benefit any cause or mission.”
Paul insist the pet store is trying to “silence what I have exposed.”
“Someone needs to raise their voice and really show consumers what Petland is doing,” she says.
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