A group of consumers filed a lawsuit in the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas against the owners of the local pet store Petland Summerville, along with its franchisor, the international pet store chain Petland Inc. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated South Carolina consumer protection laws by knowingly and fraudulently selling sick puppies to unsuspecting consumers, causing the consumers to suffer tremendous emotional and financial harm. The James Island law firm Kidd Corvey & Simpson is representing the plaintiffs, with assistance from attorneys in the Animal Protection Law department at the Humane Society of the United States.
According to the complaint, each of the seven families who are plaintiffs in the case purchased puppies at premium prices from the Petland store in Summerville, relying on the store’s false assurances that it sells healthy puppies only from high quality, humane breeders. In reality, the complaint alleges, Petland routinely sources its puppies from inhumane, unsanitary puppy mills where animal care and welfare take a back seat to profit. Sadly, after purchasing their puppies at steep prices, the plaintiffs discovered their new pets were sick, many diagnosed with serious health conditions such as pneumonia, bordetella (kennel cough), canine influenza, parvovirus, and distemper. The plaintiffs have accrued thousands in veterinary expenses attempting to restore the health of their new pets, and some of the puppies did not survive.
For example, Plaintiffs Megan and Tim Madden fell in love with a soft-coated Wheaton Terrier puppy at the Petland Summerville store. Despite concerns that he seemed lethargic, they purchased Chewie because of Petland staff’s assurances that his behavior was normal and that they sell only healthy pets from high-quality breeders. After bringing Chewie home, his condition worsened with severe bouts of diarrhea, coughing, and seizures. Chewie’s diagnoses included bordetella, mycoplasma, seizure disorders, and distemper, and he was hospitalized for nearly a week at death’s door. Following discharge, Chewie became gravely ill again, requiring another multi-day hospitalization. Chewie survived, but not before the Maddens accrued thousands of dollars in vet bills and suffered severe emotional anguish.
The Curry family had a similarly grueling experience. According to the complaint, having promised their twelve-year-old child a companion, they purchased their puppy Kody from Petland Summerville in reliance on Petland’s promises that they sell healthy puppies from reputable breeders, and assurances that Kody’s apparent lethargy was of no concern. Shortly after bringing him home, however, Kody exhibited troubling symptoms. Kody was eventually hospitalized and diagnosed with pneumonia, adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, mycoplasma, and bordetella. Sadly, Kody ultimately succumbed to his illnesses and passed away less than two months after the Curry’s bought him, leaving them heartbroken while owing thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.
“For many people, pets are a part of their family, and these stories of families connecting with their puppies only to suffer the expense and heartbreak of treating a sick pet or having to tragically say goodbye too soon is something no one should have to endure,” said lead attorney Ted Corvey. “It is important that these families are made whole, and more important that we stop these shameful business practices that value profits over animal welfare and customer’s financial and emotional well-being. These practices are repugnant and have no place in our community.”
“These families’ claims are consistent with the sad stories HSUS routinely hears from frustrated consumers across the country who were duped into purchasing sick puppies from Petland stores,” said Kimberly Ockene, managing attorney for companion animals litigation in HSUS’s Animal Protection Law department. “We hope this lawsuit achieves some justice for the consumers and animals abused by this shameful industry.”
The seven families who are plaintiffs in this lawsuit do not represent isolated incidents, and the attorneys at Kidd Corvey & Simpson believe there are likely many more. The lawsuit alleges a system that neglects dogs at every turn, from inhumane conditions at the breeding facilities to transport and distribution practices that elevate the risk of harm and disease for the young puppies, to in-store veterinary neglect and mistreatment that ignore the needs of puppies and consumers while focusing on Petland’s bottom line. This system, coupled with false assurances that their puppies are healthy and sourced from reputable breeders, results in an unfair trade practice where consumers pay the price both emotionally and financially.
If anyone purchased or knows someone who purchased a sick animal from the Summerville Petland location, they are asked to contact the law firm of Kidd Corvey & Simpson, LLC, at 843-642-8792, or go to www.kcslawfirm.com for more information.