Animal rights activists are raising concerns with the business practices of pet dealer Puppyland in Renton.
Asly Dale, director of operations for Bailing Out Benji, an organization committed to the protest of puppy mill operations in the United States, said that Puppyland imports puppies from a USDA licensed broker in Iowa named JAK’s Puppies.
“Puppies don’t magically appear in a pet store,” she said.
She said JAK’s Puppies sources the puppies with a focus on profitability. She said they sell out-of-state from puppy mills that breed 40-60 puppies each week that are kept in sub-optimal conditions with small confined spaces and poor sanitation.
According to Dale, “more reputable” dog breeders usually only breed one or two litters of puppies a year and typically sell directly to their customers.
Ashlin Perrin, president of Saving Great Animals rescue shelter, said she has seen the rescued parents of the puppies that come from puppy mills in shelters before. She said often they are fully matted, skinny, underfed and unsocialized dogs.
Dale described puppy mills as a “cruel industry” in which puppies are kept in cages that laws only require to be a net 6 inches larger than the length of a puppy’s body. She said dogs are kept in close confinement, and the conditions of their enclosures can lead to the dogs being infected with parasites and illness.
The Puppyland Renton website includes a FAQ page about infections like Giardia and Coccidiosis, claiming they won’t “cover the continued deworming” after puppies are purchased because it’s considered “common puppy maintenance.”
Their website also includes a “claims” page, presumably for customers to report claims regarding the puppy they have adopted.
Puppyland declined to comment on the kinds of situations in which their “claims” page was intended to be used.
Dale, whose organization organized a protest of Puppyland in front of their store, said the issue with the business is both about substandard care of animals and consumer protection.
She said Puppyland has been known to allow customers to finance a puppy in what she described as “predatory loan” practices. According to Dale, the business has structured loans for puppies that cost anywhere from $1,200 to $8,000, with interest rates over 30 percent.
Dale said part of the problem is that “everyone wants a puppy,” and because of that there will always be a market for these poorly treated yet adorable young dogs.
She said her organization focuses on public education surrounding the issue of puppy mills.
“I find it hard to believe that if someone knows what is going on, they will still purchase from puppy mills,” said Dale.
She encouraged families and individuals looking to adopt a puppy to look for animals at rescue shelters, as there is currently somewhere near 900 rescued shelter dogs in the state waiting to be taken into a loving home.