Animal advocates go undercover to expose Texas puppy sellers


by Phil Anaya / KENS 5

Posted on February 14, 2014 at 6:46 PM

 Buying a dog or puppy is supposed to be exciting, but that can all change when the animal you purchase turns out to be sick.

The Humane Society of the United States said that often happens because people aren’t aware of dogs come from when purchasing a puppy from a third party like a pet store, flea market or even online.

That’s why HSUS spent five months in Texas conducting an undercover investigation. The non-profit said the goal of the investigation is to expose where puppy sellers get their dogs from.
“Often times pet store owners don’t give the information about the origins of the dogs to the consumers, or they outright lie about the origins of these puppies that they sell in their stores,” said Melanie Kahn of HSUS.
Kahn spoke to KENS 5 via Skype about the HSUS investigation. HSUS also provided KENS 5 with their undercover video inside pet shops around Texas. Some of the video shows pet store employees not telling HSUS investigators where puppies come from, or breeder information.
Khan said when that happens it’s a red flag that a dog might come from a puppy mill, or at least from an unreputable breeder. If that happens HSUS said the pup you buy could be unhealthy.
“We saw dogs that were just crawling in fleas, we saw dogs that were coughing incessantly, we saw dogs that were clearly starving and actually eating each others feces because they were so starving,” said Khan.
During its investigation HSUS stopped at one pet shop in San Antonio. HSUS claims it’s a store that could be getting its dogs from an unlicensed breeder.
“If consumers really knew where these puppies were coming from they wouldn’t buy them,” said Khan.
The Pintor family once looked for a puppy by responding to an ad in the paper, but once they arrived at the house selling the dogs the family got more than it bargained for.
“When we showed up the dog was not healthy and you could tell from looking past the dog, it was a puppy mill,” said Melissa Pintor of San Antonio.
In January the Pintor family decided to try getting a dog again. However, this time they would do so by adopting from the San Antonio Humane Society. SAHS has no affiliation with HSUS, but HSUS said if more people adopted dogs from local shelters it would potentially cripple the puppy mill industry.
During its investigation, HSUS said it went to 19 pet stores and flea markets across Texas. During that time HSUS claims it came across 400 puppies at 24 shelters near those sites. However, HSUS said more than 100,000 animals are estimated to be euthanized in shelters across Texas.
“Make no mistake about it this is a consumer driven issue and if consumers stopped purchasing dogs from pet stores, online or flea markets, the puppy mill industry wouldn’t exist,” said Khan.
Not all pet stores are bad. Polly’s Pet Shop in Universal City is unique. They sale puppies, but there’s no question or hiding where the dogs come from since the store has partnered with San Antonio’s Animal Care Services to strictly sell shelter dogs.
“The demand for puppies isn’t going to go away. People are always going to want puppies, so it’s how do you get them? How do you regulate it? So I think programs like this help take the demand away from places like puppy mills and helps shift them to more places like shelters and rescues,” said Polly’s Pet Shop general manager, Randy Housley.
Some people might be looking for a pure bred dog and that’s fine, but HSUS said people need to do their homework and meet the breeder.