Puppies in pet stores could have a problematic past

SALT LAKE CITY – Adorable fluff balls of various shapes and sizes run around in tiny pens, in a pastel-colored room with a fun vibe.

The little beings let out barking and barking sounds, as they jump with the energy of a puppy.

Some would envy Victoria Burgoyne, who played with puppies all day as part of her job at the Puppy Store in Saratoga Springs.

Victoria, who has two furry babies herself, loves dogs.

“Come here!” Victoria applauded her young dog Cowboy in her living room. Arguing with the energetic Red Heeler can be a bit of a rodeo. His rescue dog Timmo, on the other hand, is the calm golden child.

He sat patiently and gave Victoria a high five on command.

“Good boy!” she exclaimed, praising Timmo.

The dog lover loved her job with puppies all day long when she was hired at the end of last summer.

“We gave them vaccines, we washed them, fed them, cleaned them after them,” she said, adding that they cleaned several times a day to keep the store clean and presentable.

Victoria has occasionally taken photos and videos of the cheerful and playful puppies. She said she worked at the back of the store.

This meant that Victoria had seen the dogs when they arrived at the store. She started to notice a few little things that she found embarrassing.

“The puppies came in all night long,” Victoria said.

She described how a truck brought the dogs, often from across the country.

“They are really dirty when they get there,” she said. “They don’t smell the best. Often they have diarrhea when they arrive.

After employees like Victoria washed and cleaned the dogs, she said they would put the dogs on the floor to sell, for over $ 1,000 to $ 3,000.

If customers asked them where the dogs were from, she said The Puppy Store has told employees not to disclose exact details.

“They tell us not to give out information about the breeders, they are so adamant,” she said.

Eventually, this led Victoria to do a little research on dogs.

“Every once in a while I would look at the breeder information on the sheet,” she said. She was shocked at what she found.

The Puppy Store announces online, on social networks and in its stores that dogs only come from approved breeders with registration and pedigrees.

“We would run them through a broker, called JAK’s,” Victoria said.

FOX 13 researched JAK’s and discovered that the Iowa-based company supplied pet stores across the country with dog breeders. Most of the ranchers appear to be located in the Midwest.

The company’s business practices have already come under scrutiny, including by the Iowa attorney general.

The non-profit organization Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) has infiltrated the breeding facilities that work with JAK.

A video shows a man from Wisconsin, who sells different breeds of dogs, including Pekingese.

The breeder tells the CAPS investigator that he sells his dogs to a broker, who in turn sells the dogs to pet stores.

“You don’t sell them to JAK by chance, do you?” »Asks the investigator.

“Yes”, replies the breeder.

They both walk around the man’s establishment. Many dogs in metal-bottomed cages with feces under the bark and run around.

At one point, the man brings out a mum with matted fur, explaining that she is pretty much at the end of her breeding years.

“She’s not used to being on the loose, and just, she’s in the kennel all the time,” says the breeder, explaining why the dog won’t move.

“That’s what she knows, isn’t it?” Yes, ”comments the investigator.

FOX 13 has found that the Wisconsin breeder, as well as other breeders, are up to date on USDA licenses. Facility inspection records and violations are not available online.

CAPS posted a video on the farm of another rancher in Wisconsin. He explains how he needed to build a new building in order to bring his facility up to standard.

In one of the rooms, several litters of puppies swarm in tight enclosures in the dark. The CAPS video notes the lack of light in the room.

“It is better to have a lot of dogs and sell volume, in order to… so that it is profitable,” says the breeder.

The investigator replies: “Otherwise, it’s not worth it. “

The man explains how the USDA regulations are more flexible, compared to the state of Wisconsin regulations for breeding.

He complains that people call their operations puppy mills.

“We have a full license and we have to do everything properly,” he says.

Licensed and registered, just like the pet stores that sell these dogs, we promise.

The Humane Society of Utah argues that just because a breeder is licensed doesn’t mean conditions for dogs are ideal or what some would consider humane.

“Some of them never even touched the grass or got out of that cage,” said Deann Shepherd, HSU’s director of marketing and communications. “They’re just being brought up over and over again.”

Late one afternoon, an HSU team brought in 11 puppies from Nevada and placed them in pens in groups of two to three, in the room known as Tiny Town.

Spenser Betenson, a transfer counselor, walked from pen to pen to check on the puppies’ condition. The dogs were of different breeds and Betenson said HSU brought them from a shelter in Elko, NV.

She explained that shelters sometimes struggle to care for the puppies, so HSU was happy to step in and make the several hour round trip.

“That’s a lot of puppies,” she chuckled. “That’s a lot of barking for three and a half hours to the shelter.

HSU quarantined the puppies and planned to have them examined by a veterinarian before finally adopting the puppies.

Shepherd explained that where dogs come from can make a difference in a dog’s health and behavior.

Dogs at a breeding facility, she said, can end up with a number of problems.

“They weren’t socialized, they weren’t treated well,” Shepherd said. “Overall, parents and these puppies have behavioral issues, they can also have medical issues if they have been inbred.”

Problems that can be passed on to people who eventually bring one of the animals home.

Victoria said The Puppy Store never knowingly sold sick dogs, but explained that she has seen puppies with health issues, including her own dog, Cowboy.

Cowboy is from The Puppy Store, she explained. She fell in love with him, and after no one bought Cowboy for his listing price of $ 3,000, Victoria said she had bought him for the sale price of $ 500.

According to The Puppy Store, customers can take their dog to a veterinarian to be examined for any potential health concerns.

That’s what Victoria did, and she said a vet diagnosed Cowboy with dislocated patella and hip dysplasia.

“He’s got stage one right now,” she said of hip dysplasia. “You can see when he walks, his hips are swaying. And when he runs a lot, he starts to limp his hind legs.

Victoria held up a waiver she said she signed, which excused The Puppy Store from any future medical bills in light of Cowboy’s medical issues.

In December, Victoria said she gave him two weeks’ notice and left The Puppy Store.

His and Shepherd’s advice: dig a bit before adding a new four-legged family member.

“Any consumer looking to add a new pet to their home should do their research,” Shepherd said. “Find out where this animal came from. “

Fox 13 contacted a veterinarian, who said some dogs can have certain health issues no matter where the dog is from.

However, the vet said they typically see behavioral issues and an increase in viruses and communicable diseases, like giardia and parvo, in puppies at pet stores.

The vet suggested contacting a local vet for breeder or rescue recommendations, as well as bringing a new puppy to the vet before bringing it home.

FOX 13 contacted The Puppy Store several times over the two weeks. A media representative from The Puppy Store said over the phone that he would be happy to provide information on the origin of the dogs, but never provided that information.

The Puppy Store sent FOX 13 this statement:

“The Puppy Store is proud to offer the highest level of service to our customers. We supply healthy and happy puppies from reputable, government regulated breeders. We also provide quality health care options to all of our clients.

We take pride in the work we do in the community and will always work with responsible companies that have our puppies’ best interests in mind. “

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