A federal court in Arizona has issued a ruling allowing a lawsuit to proceed against Petland, Inc. based on allegations that the retail chain is routinely selling unhealthy puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers. Petland is the nation's largest chain of pet stores that sells puppy mill dogs.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Phoenix, alleges that Petland violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and numerous state consumer protection laws by misleading thousands of consumers across the country into believing that the puppies sold in Petland stores are healthy and come from high-quality breeders. The suit is the result of many months of investigative and legal research, and comes after two separate investigations into Petland stores by The HSUS in 2008 and 2009 that demonstrated a direct link between multiple Petland stores and unscrupulous puppy mills.
"Unscrupulous puppy sellers like Petland reap massive profits by pushing unhealthy puppies on well-intentioned dog-lovers who would never knowingly buy a puppy mill dog," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president chief counsel for Animal Protection Litigation at The HSUS. "This industry has been systematically lying to consumers for decades about the source of the dogs they sell, and it's time for a major correction."
In its ruling, the Court allowed the RICO and several state law claims to go forward against Petland, but dismissed puppy mill dog broker Hunte, Inc. (a major supplier of Petland), and also removed some of the consumer plaintiffs from the case. The case will now proceed to discovery and trial before United States District Judge David Campbell.
The class plaintiffs are being represented in the case by Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett Bendesky, PC; Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLC; Garen Meguerian, Esq.; and lawyers in The HSUS' Animal Protection Litigation section. The suit requests a jury trial on behalf of the consumer class plaintiffs, and seeks reimbursement of the puppies' purchase price along with compensation for all related monetary damages for the class members.
To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.