Minnesota pet stores
There are two types of pet stores in Minnesota:
1) Pet stores who do not buy and sell dogs and cats and have instead chosen to use their facilities to assist local rescue groups with pet adoptions. This type of business markets to responsible pet owners and, ultimately, helps to lower euthanasia rates by placing focus on unwanted animals within foster homes and local shelters.
2) Pet stores who buy puppies and kittens from animal breeders or brokers and sell directly to unsuspecting consumers.
NOTE: Based on research conducted by Animal Folks in 2015, at least 12 pet stores in Minnesota still sell puppies and kittens acquired from commercial dog or cat breeders.
Pet stores and commercial breeders
Pet stores typically buy from high-volume commercial breeders and dealers. Because these breeders/dealers are selling wholesale and often ship animals across state lines, they must be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A 2010 audit of USDA inspections by the Office of Inspector General offers a scathing assessment of USDA inspection and enforcement practices, indicating animal cruelty and suffering at USDA-licensed breeding kennels.
Some pet stores announce they only buy from "USDA-licensed facilities" — implying that the federal license guarantees the conditions and animals are healthy.
Some pet stores also claim they do not buy from puppy mills; and some state that they support the kennels they work with — even if the size of the kennel has 100, 500 or over 900 dogs and puppies.
No reputable breeder sells puppies or kittens through pet stores, or online.
Reputable breeders and rescue groups interview the buyer first to make sure the animal and buyer are the "right fit," and the buyer can properly care for the dog or cat. Reputable breeders allow people into their home or kennel so as to see the breeding conditions and meet the dam (mother) and sire (father); they also own and breed fewer animals so as to have enough time to properly care and socialize each dog or cat.
In addition to assessing the facility conditions, veterinary care, and staff qualifications, kennel size (number of animals) can dictate the care and well-being of each animal.
Examples of some Minnesota pet stores still buying from mass commercial breeders and supporting the "old" business model are below. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVIs) are required for shipping animals across state lines; these CVIs document acquisitions.
• Petland (St. Paul, MN)
Animal Folks has CVIs linking Petland (in St. Paul, MN) to large-scale commercial breeders and dealers in Minnesota and Iowa. First example below shows a shipment to Petland from Menning Enterprises, a Minnesota "Class B" breeder and dealer located in Pipestone County who, according to the USDA inspection report dated February 23, 2016, had 595 adult dogs and 372 puppies. The second CVI is for a shipment to Petland from Heritage Puppies, an Iowa "Class B" dealer who, according to the USDA inspection report dated January 27, 2016, had 497 adult dogs and 93 puppies. The third example is from Fulton Enterprises located in Freeborn County who is licensed as a "Class B" dealer; this dealer buys from breeders and re-sales to pet stores.
• Har Mar Pet Store (Roseville, MN)
Animal Folks has CVIs linking Har Mar Pet Store to large-scale commercial breeders in Minnesota and Iowa. First CVI below shows shipments from Menning Enterprises, located in Pipestone County, to Har Mar Pet Store. (See animal counts listed above for this dealer.) Because MN law does not require CVIs for intrastate shipments (i.e., shipments within Minnesota, not across borders), documents filed are not consistent or recent. The CVI below is from 2008. The second CVI is for a shipment to Har Mar Pet Store from "Class A" breeder Marvin Newswanger, operating as Maple Tree Kennels. According to the USDA inspection report dated October 20, 2015, ths breeder had 331 adult breeding dogs and 219 puppies. An attempted inspection was made in 2016, but the USDA was unable to access the premises. Being unavailable for an annual inspection is considered a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Photo is example of dog from Iowa breeder Eugene Martin who also sells to the Har Mar Pet Store; taken 2014 by USDA during inspection to show dog with right eye matted shut with yellow-green discharge.
• Four Paws and A Tail (Blaine, MN)
It is reported that Four Paws and A Tail obtains puppies from multiple Minnesota breeders. One breeder is John and Lyle Renner, operating as Renner's Kennel in Detroit Lakes. According to the USDA inspection report dated November 15, 2016, this breeder had 134 adult dogs and 46 puppies. (Photo below is of this breeder's kennel; by USDA.) Below is a CVI and photo from this kennels from USDA inspection report (2011).
Consumers may be misled
Some pet stores employees mislead consumers about where and how the animal is bred. In some cases, the store employees may claim the puppies or kittens are bred by smaller, local breeders or within homes — rather than through large-volume breeders and dealers who may house over 300, 600 or 900 dogs. Some employees may just say "breeder" and not provide additional information.
Even if the name of a breeder or dealer is given, often it is difficult for the consumer to trace down this breeder/dealer and gain access to their facility to evaluate conditions.
Health guarantees may be offered by the store but often consumers do not want to treat their new companion as a faulty product to be exchanged. These guarantees also do not reflect the stressful "sales journey" of the animal — i.e. from breeding kennel to transport (i.e. in truck or plane) to dealer facility to transport again to weeks or months caged at pet store prior to being sold.
To view an example of irresponsible store behavior, click on link below. This is undercover video of Elite Animals taken by Companion Animal Protection Society. NOTE: Puppies supplied to this store and breeding photos shown in video are from a Minnesota breeder.
Gov. Schwarzenegger Duped into Buying Puppy Mill Dog from Elite Animals
Additional data on pet stores and consumer problems:
• Pet Store Doublespeak: What pet store staff might tell you and what it really means
• A Five Year Study of nearly 2,500 puppy buyer complaints
• Class action lawsuit against Barkworks
Pet stores that choose to sell dogs and cats contribute to the "cycle of abuse" described above, as do the consumers who buy from these pet stores.
Pet stores that have chosen not to sell dogs and cats and to instead support local rescue groups through pet adoptions deserve our consumer dollars.