According to information obtained by the the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) through a Data Practices Act request from the state's Board of Animal Health, the Petland store in St. Paul has purchased hundreds of dogs from large-scale dog-breeding operations.
ARC Executive Director Dallas Rising says her organization scoured hundreds of pages of veterinary inspections.
The group's examination showed that as recently as last summer the pet store located in the Sun Ray Shopping Center on Old Hudson Road bought cocker spaniels, pomeranians, and miniature pinschers from operations with as many as 800 adult dogs and puppies on site.
A USDA report from last summer showed that a Minnesota puppy mill doing business with Petland had 513 dogs and 289 puppies on the property.
Another revealed an even larger dog-breeding business. According to ARC's investigation, a Cushing-based kennel and broker warehoused 738 adult dogs and 312 puppies as recently as last September.
Petland, Inc. is a privately owned company based in Ohio. Its 131 franchise stores are littered across the country.
The firm has long been the target of animal welfare groups.
A six-month investigation in 2009 by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) unearthed evidence showing the retail chain sold dogs purchased from puppy mills cited by federal inspectors for unsanitary conditions and failure to provide veterinary care.
The Humane Society probe also exposed that more than 95 percent of the retail chain's stores were "supporting puppy mills by purchasing their dogs from large-scale dog brokers and/or directly from puppy mill operations, including some of the most notorious and abusive puppy mills in the country."
"Petland is perpetuating the abusive puppy mill industry, where dogs are treated not like pets, but like a cash crop," said Stephanie Shain, an HSUS spokeswoman, when the report was released.
According to ARC's Rising, Vanessa Rojas, owner of the St. Paul Petland, has denied buying animals from puppy mills. However, she contends this new evidence speaks to the contrary.
A message left for Rojas over the weekend was not returned.
Public pressure on her store won't be abating any time soon.
A protest by Minnesotans Exposing Petland in front of the location is scheduled for July 11.
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