Friday, December 11, 2015

Ohio pet stores accused of mistreating animals

Juliana Discher I Staff Writer

Buying a puppy is like adding a new member to the family. So when that adorable, $1,000 dog dies within weeks, it’s a huge emotional and financial loss.

Petland and other pet stores have been under scrutiny lately for selling sick puppies, many near death. It all began two years ago when Ohio legislators passed a law meant to ensure that puppies bred in the state were raised in appropriate conditions. An investigation by the Cincinnati Enquirer revealed, however, that wording was stripped, causing the law to apply only to puppy mills, not pet stores. This allows for pet stores to get away with selling seemingly healthy dogs, that are actually very sick.

Junior Reilly Bogan said she used to frequently visit Petland, until she realized most of the puppies seemed ill.

“I used to go there a lot to look at dogs, but they always looked so sick and their eyes were always red,” Bogan said. “My mom wouldn’t let us get a dog from there because she didn’t think they were healthy enough and they were way too expensive.”

Petland isn’t the only pet store in Ohio facing such allegations, but significantly more complaints have been filed against it than competing pet stores. According to Mason veterinarian Ruthann Carr, the problem with pet stores is that a customer doesn’t get to know the history of the dog.

“You don’t know what environment a puppy came from,” Carr said. “In general, no matter how good a store is, it’s just those kind of unknowns that lead to issues.”

Ohio legislation needs to revise its laws regarding the treatment of dogs being sold, according to Carr.

“It is pretty disappointing that they couldn’t have put something further in the bill to raise the standards of pet stores,” Carr said. “They need to add something regarding the source of puppies that come into stores as well.”

Freshman Nicole Kaldas said she’s getting a dog soon, but she’s cautious of making sure it’s healthy. She said she is looking into the dog’s history before purchasing.

“I wouldn’t buy a dog from Petland because a lot of their dogs are sick and when people take them to a veterinarian, there are a lot of things wrong with them, but Petland won’t refund them,” Kaldas said. “That’s what happened with my other dog because the breeder said she was perfectly healthy, but was actually really sick.”

An article published by the Cincinnati Enquirer in November 2015 said that several customers have accused Petland of providing puppies with medication to mask an illness, such as a cough suppressant to disguise pneumonia. For 2014 Sycamore graduate Angela Phillips, her puppy purchase ended in peril. Phillips said she spent over $1,300 on a Dachshund from Petland that died within two days.

“I took her to the vet and I thought it was just going to be a regular appointment, but then they found out she had multiple things wrong with her,” Phillips said. “She had pneumonia, parasites, fluid in her stomach, and she had an eye infection on top of it. When I took her back to Petland, they literally took her out of my hands, put her in a cage and she died right as we were in the store.”

Petland wasn’t initially going to refund her, Phillips said, even though she followed the store’s protocol for having a sick dog.

“It became a huge scene because they didn’t want to give me my refund even though I had taken her to the vet within the first 48 hours,” Phillips said. “We were almost at the point of having to get a lawyer involved because they said they were not giving back anything but half the money.”

Phillips said she doesn’t want her situation to happen to other people.

“I don’t want any other family to go through the same thing,” Phillips said. “Especially if they have little kids. I know when a dog dies, to the little child, it’s like the end of the world. I don’t think Petland stands by their word. I don’t think pet stores should be able to sell dogs just because so many of them are so sick. I think it’s awful.”

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