Petland has no Home in Saint Louis


Sidra Major

Petland STL located in Lake Saint Louis

Upon walking through the front doors, the smell of disinfectant and bleach combined with the sound of small paws scratching against the glass draws your attention to the back of the store: a tall lit-up wall divided into wire-bottom cages and eager puppy faces hoping to be adopted. Located on Ronald Reagan Road in Northwest Saint Louis, dozens of puppies nest beside each other in glass cages on display for the customers. Petland, a national chain of pet stores, notoriously known for their outdated approach of supplying and selling puppies to the public, should have no place in Saint Louis.

“As the only natural pet store chain in the United States that still sells puppies, Petland is also the largest retailer of puppy mill dogs”

— Humane Society of the United States

said the
Humane Society of the United States. The controversial tactics of Petland favor profit before ethical treatment of their animals. 

Because of the inhumane breeding and treatment of dogs, a growing number of cities and states are outright banning pet stores from selling puppies from breeding mills. 421 US cities across the country have banned the sale of puppies from mills and 5 states have made this state-wide, according to the Best Friends Animal Society.

With none of these cities being within Missouri, hundreds of breeding mills are able to endanger and exploit the lives of innocent animals, then to be sold in accessible pet stores like Petland, and reap the profits. Whereas in contrast, just across the river, Illinois has completely banned these sales all together.

The existence of Petland within the city of Saint Louis, is a reminder of Missouri’s lack of Animal Welfare laws. 

Aside from state standards, this company’s moral standard is corrupt. Not only does Petland continue the mistreatment of their animals, they falsely inform customers about where pets come from. According to their website: “Petland Corporate employs a Director of Animal Welfare Education. He visits breeders all over the country and maintains a corporately circulated Do Not Buy List for breeders that do not meet our standards.” Even if this were the case, realistically, is one single individual able to effectively monitor hundreds of breeders across the entire country alone? No. 

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) conducted an eight month investigation of Petland stores across the US, and found disturbing results: “Some of Petland’s puppies were ordered online using a pet auction website called the Pet Board of Trade (PBT),” said HSUS, “demonstrating that many Petland stores are not screening breeders as the Petland corporate website claims– in fact, in some cases they may not even know the breeder’s name until after the purchase is complete.” How can a company make such a promise when their breeder’s name isn’t even reachable until the purchase has been completed? They can’t. Petland paints a picture of reputality and comfort for their customers, where in truth they cut all corners possible when it comes to animal safety and welfare. 

Most Breeders that Petland works with are USDA licensed […] We do not buy from any breeder that has a direct violation on their most recent inspection,” said on Petland Saint Louis website. As part of this investigation conducted by HSUS, investigators reviewed these reports administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “[HSUS] found that more than 60 percent of the reports listed serious violations of basic animal care regulations […] Documented USDA violations at some of Petland’s breeders and suppliers included: dirty, broken- down enclosures; inadequate shelter from the cold; dogs kept in too-small cages; and inadequate veterinary care. Some of the breeders were found with sick or dead dogs left in their cages,” said by HSUS. 

The results of this investigation could not be more clear: Petland outright lies. USDA reports are public information that everyone has access to, thus making the conclusion simple: Missouri does not hold laws preventing such mistreatment, therefore these USDA reports have no capacity to enact change. In the process, Petland deliberately lies to the public about their breeders, and the public gets duped into trusting a company that fabricates information.

But why are people so tempted to buy from Petland, ethics aside? The instant gratification of walking out the same day with a forever friend, makes the outrageous price tag feel justifiable. “Right now, anyone who wants can walk into any Petland store in America and buy an animal with a credit card as if they were picking up the latest Britney Spears single.” said by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a statement directed towards Petland Corporate. Instead of waiting 6 months to locally adopt a dog from a reputable breeder, it’s all-so-tempting to drive to a nearby Petland and get one same-day for thousands. 

Not only does this immediate purchase continue the business of faulty breeders, it leads to abandonment later on. “What ends up happening is that, much like the new Britney joint, these animals get discarded, cast aside, or returned to the store at the earliest opportunity,” said PETA. Petland is not giving animals forever homes, rather temporary fixes. Nearly 3.2 million dogs are surrendered to shelters each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

With the abundance of animals surrendered combined with the overproduction of dogs bred at puppy mills for corporations such as Petland, dogs are set up for failure. Petland is continuing the crisis of stray and abandoned dogs in the United States. As long as people fall for the scheme Petland plays for their buyers, nothing will change. 

But for those aware of the dangers behind puppy mills, buying a dog from a petstore can feel like a rescue. Being able to walk into Petland and provide an escape for a newly born dog from a crowded glass pen, can appear to be a good act; but in reality, more animals are jeopardized.

Stores like Petland treat their animals as a matter of supply and demand. You may have provided sanctuary for one puppy, but by paying their steep costs, you’ve enabled 3 more dogs to be shipped in from mills and sold for the exact same price. As you cave to your feeling of guilt, more dogs are put at risk.

In preparation for this piece, I decided to make the 35 minute drive to the outskirts of the city, and visit the Petland of Saint Louis located in Lake Saint Louis. After visiting once before, I expected few customers, especially for a Sunday afternoon. As I entered and saw crowds of people swarming the store, I divorced myself from my emotions. Throughout my time in the store, I did my part at taking this company down, by not giving them a penny. Refraining purchases and informing others about the truths of Petland, is the way to save the most animals. The less business Petland receives, the more breeding mills will go out of business, and the fewer puppies that will be subjected to mistreatment and abuse. 

Why is it so acceptable to see an emaciated stray dog helplessly living on the streets of New York City, but not in the shiney pet stores of suburban USA? Simple, one is intentional. Petland has the resources and ability to change the moral standing of their company today. With less profits, they could invest in better veterinary treatment and more reputable suppliers. But they don’t. As people within our city blindly shop at Petland, we are continuing the cycle. 

To enact expulsion of Petland in Saint Louis, we must educate our peers, deplete their profits and drive this company out.