NOVI, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), undercover footage at the Novi Petland store shows puppies with wounds, hacking coughs, nasal discharge and bloody stools. Additionally, other puppies showed signs of congenital defects, such as abnormal masses, soft spots on their skulls and other disorders. Instead of being treated for these conditions or placed in homes where they could receive special care, some of these dogs were instead sent back to the puppy mills where they were born.

An undercover investigation for HSUS witnessed many disturbing transactions including an unmarked van with no back windows pulled up behind the Petland store in Novi, Michigan. A delivery worker threw a bottle in the truck which landed with a clatter just inches from cages holding several dazed puppies and said, “We still gotta go back to Illinois to pick up more of these (expletive) yipping dogs.” The puppies were unloaded and handed to Petland workers. Some remained in the truck for the rest of their journey to other pet stores. Paperwork showed they came from states known for puppy mills, including Iowa and Missouri.

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The transaction, says the HSUS, was just one of many disturbing scenes their undercover investigator witnessed as a kennel worker in summer and early fall of this year at the Novi store.

The HSUS just-released investigation report details their investigator’s hidden camera which documented sick puppies, puppies with birth defects, dangerous conditions and improper care. After studying animal transport documents and reviewing footage from the store, their researchers concluded that the store was supplied by puppy mills, some of which have appeared in their Horrible Hundred reports for disturbing animal care violations.

Petland is the largest puppy-selling pet store chain in the U.S. The Novi store is one of a total of 10 Petland stores that the HSUS has investigated since 2018.

The HSUS is ardent in their fight against puppy mills because they say that they are a root cause of animal suffering in multiple ways. They point to mother and father dogs who spend their entire lives in cramped cages, giving birth to litter after litter, with little to no personal attention. When the parent dogs can no longer breed, they are often abandoned or killed.

Additionally, puppies born at these high-volume breeding facilities frequently suffer from myriad health issues because of poor sanitation, overbreeding and a lack of preventive veterinary care. The HSUS says that the families who adopt them also suffer because they don’t realize their new furry family member could be sick – sometimes fatally so.

The HSUS investigator also visited other puppy-selling stores in Michigan as a secret shopper and their researchers studied paperwork for 12 puppy-selling stores in Michigan. They discovered documents linking most of the stores to known out-of-state puppy mills, 10 of which appeared in their Horrible Hundred reports, and many of which had state or federal animal welfare violations.

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Over the past two years, Michigan pet stores purchased dogs from more than 160 different out-of-state commercial breeders.

The investigation proved what animal advocates have been saying for decades: Puppies should not start their lives in puppy mills and they should not be sold like disposable objects in pet stores. The HSUS says that responsible breeders do not sell to pet stores because they want to meet the people who want to take their animals home.

The HSUS hopes these findings help to spark meaningful change for dogs languishing in Michigan pet stores. A bill in Michigan – HB 4838, introduced in June 2023 – would end the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits in retail stores across the state. This legislation would cut off the puppy mill pipeline and move the pet market towards more humane sources, such as shelters, rescues and responsible breeders.

The bill has substantial support, with 32 co-sponsors in the House. Even industry members are in support: 60 Michigan pet stores that do not sell puppies have already endorsed the bill (that’s nearly four times the number of stores that sell puppies in the state).

The HSUS asks that If you live in Michigan, please show your support for HB 4838. Seven other states and 480 localities, including nine in Michigan, have passed laws ending the sale of puppies in pet stores.