Update: Petland, Inc. is not involved in this lawsuit. As an independently owned and operated franchise, Petland El Paso is solely responsible for suing the rescue groups.

In a move surely not approved by their PR team, corporate giant Petland El Paso is flexing its legal muscles and filing a lawsuit against a handful of animal rescue groups in El Paso, Texas. Southwest Collie Rescue, El Paso Great Dane Rescue, and Dr. Ken Okada, a board member for the El Paso Humane Society, are apparently such a threat to the $50 million company store that it feels the need to sue them for over $2.5 million.

Why? Perhaps it’s because the El Paso city council actually did something good for animals. In an effort to reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized in the city, they passed a new law which takes some minor steps toward regulating the pet trade.

This ordinance is actually a watered-down version of a proposed outright ban on the sale of cats and dogs in El Paso. Still, even a far weaker law was enough to get Petland El Paso ticked-off enough to sue a handful of animal welfare volunteers. Apparently supporters of the new law called into question where pet stores get their pets from. According to KDSM, “Petland claims the volunteers defamed the company by claiming they get their animals from puppy mills.”

Why would anyone say Petland gets its dogs from puppy mills? Perhaps because it does get dogs from puppy mills.

The Humane Society of the United States has dillgently investigated the company’s involvement with the seedier side of the animal trade. For example, of the more than 100 individual breeders who sell animals to Petland stores, almost half of them had been cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act by the USDA at least once during the previous three years. These violations included “puppies caged outside in freezing weather; sick or injured dogs who hadn’t been seen by a vet; puppies caged on wire flooring with spaces wide enough for their legs to pass through the wire and become entrapped; inadequate sanitation, rusty cages in disrepair; severely matted or underweight dogs; improper medications on hand to treat or prevent disease; and outdoor runs without shelters large enough for the dogs to escape the sun, wind, or rain.”

The HSUS estimates that over 95 percent of Petland stores are linked to the puppy mill industry. No wonder a federal judge issued a ruling allowing a lawsuit to proceed against the company based on allegations that the retail chain is routinely selling unhealthy puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers.

To make all of this clear: Petland El Paso wants people to buy ridiculously overpriced pedigreed pets from its store instead of adopting from a shelter so it can make a few extra bucks. When a the city takes some baby steps at regulating the pet trade and encouraging adoption, Petland El Paso gets all frothy at the mouth and decides to sue those all-powerful animal rescue volunteers who, by saying mean (yet true) things about Petland and puppy mills, might pose a tiny threat to its huge profits.

The obvious lesson? Petland El Paso cares more about profiting from selling animals than about animals languishing in shelters.

Tell Petland El Paso to stop suing animal rescue groups.

Photo Credit: The HSUS

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