Edited  Tuesday June 9 , 8:00 am Bella is showing symptoms of an Upper respiratory illness in addition to Giardia.  She is returning to the vet this afternoon, for further treatment.

Edited 6/10/09: Bella was diganosed with an Upper respiratory infection and is on an antibiotic in addition to the other meds. She is improving daily.

Edited 6/15/09 – Diagnosis of URI:  Kennel cough.  Still coughing and sneezing.

Edited 6/17/09- Diagnosis of coccidia in  addition to the above.

On June 1, 2009,  my family excitedly brought home a “Shorkie” pup from Petland, Novi, Michigan. By Thursday evening she was admitted to the emergency clinic. The Petland affiliate vet diagnosed her with Giardia and recommended her admittance for IV treatment due to symptoms from the Giardia and subsequent hypoglycemia.

“Bella” was transferred to the vet for care on Friday and stayed on the IV until Saturday afternoon, at which point she was still not eating. We were given the choice to either bring her home and force feed or transfer her back to the emergency clinic for continued IV, with the understanding that we may need to take her in if she did not begin to eat on her own or deteriorated in any other way.

Fortunately, Bella has improved greatly, but this experience led us to further investigate her breeding conditons. We had specifically asked about puppy mills and were assured that Petland, Novi does NOT buy puppies from puppy mills.

We asked for and rec’d a listing for the breeder from Petland, the phone #was incorrect, but the address was correct and we were able to find the correct phone # via the internet. On contacting the breeder, we found the following:

1) She confirmed that she has 50+ adult dogs (not including puppies, the last USDA report showed 50+ adults and 82 puppies) and only herself and 2 teenaged sons to care for them.

2) When told that we were experiencing issues with one of her pups she became defensive and said she was “not going to pay for anything” (we hadn’t asked her to- nor were we going to.)

3) When asked to send a photo of the dame and sire (so we could be assured of their health and breed) she refused.

4) When told what kind of issues Bella was sick with (again- Giardia) she recommended giving her “Tums” and stated that she “didn’t care what the vet said, you can give a dog anything you can give a human.” Which confirms that she disregards veterinary care and is possibly ignorant of basic dog care/welfare.

After investigating the breeder- we returned to speak with Randy, the owner of Petland, Novi, MI. He said that he had bought the store 3 weeks ago and that Bella had been purchased from the previous owner. He was not aware of what broker she was bought from. Randy also stated that on purchasing the Petland store (franchise) he did not receive any of the invoices for pets in stock, so the tracking information was limited. He also assured us that our warranty would cover any illness she had contracted prior to purchase, and he paid for 1/2 of the emergency bill. (which  we appreciate.)

On review of Bella’s State of Mich health certificate- we noticed that she had also been treated for prior to sale for 10 days for an upper resp infection with antibiotics and nebulizer treatments. While individually possible, this many problems and red flags leads us to believe that Bella is not a “designer dog” but a puppy mill puppy.

We believe Bella received adequate care since being purchased from the broker. (based on the vet record and our observation of caring staff during repeated visits prior to purchasing her.) However,  I feel we were misled about her history, and with the breeders refusal to even share photos or other dame/sire information, we may have been misled about her breed altogether. In addition, based on breeder contact, I doubt both the competence and care level of the breeder.

The bottom line? We paid a huge amount, for a puppy mill pooch without even assurance of her breed. We have experienced countless sleepless hours, fear of losing a new and beloved pet, hours driving back and forth to the Petland recommended vet and many tears and a nightmare experience in place of a loving, happy pet adoption. As most loving pet owners we will do what is necessary to create a happy future, regardless of her sad past.

I will be further investigating Petland business practices and it’s choosing (past and present) of brokers/breeders. What I hope to see, is a rise in it’s standards to assure other families don’t experience what we have. I believe in and support local businesses, and in the right for Petland to continue to sell puppies- I simply believe there are enough reputable and loving breeders that this could be done without the use of puppy mills.

We are currently waiting to see if any of our family members or other pets will come down with Giardia, or if we will find any more serious issues with Bella, our journey has just begun, we hope it becomes a happier one.

bella  our new girl.

(As sent via email to Petland Corporate Offices on June 8, 2009)