Taking Action

About Us

We are a loose-knit coalition of D.C.-area residents who agree that the selling of animals by Petland and pet stores similar to it is wrong. We don't strive to agree on other animal issues. We are not a registered nonprofit group, so donations, while welcome, are not tax-deductible. All donations will be used to pay for printing, protest supplies, mailing, and other expenses incurred while fighting pet store cruelty.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Isn’t protesting a bit harsh? Have you tried speaking to the management?

The Petland corporate office knows exactly what it’s doing and doesn’t care that animals are suffering. There’s more hope for the franchisees, who may have signed on without knowing the full extent Petland’s cruelty and may eventually tire of selling a "product" that is so difficult to keep clean and that horrifies the animal-loving public.

We have had a cordial debate with the manager of the local Petland. He feels that selling supplies only, as we would prefer, would not be possible in a store that small, even though he feels it is enough space for several hundred animals (that number includes fish). He does not believe his puppies are coming from puppy mills and chooses to think they are coming from more spacious kennels, although he has visited only one or two, from a select list provided by the Hunte Corporation.

He does not find the cages in the store extremely small or uncomfortable, as we do. He does not believe he is contributing to the homeless animal crisis but feels he is instead providing a choice for shoppers looking for a particular animal at a particular time. We respectfully disagree on these issues and hope that he will change his mind before more animals are harmed.

2) Many rescue groups have adoption days in cooperation with pet stores. Do you think rescue groups should work with Petland?

If Petland sells 100 animals in a week and finds a home for 1 homeless animal during the same week, have they done a good thing or a bad thing overall? We feel that Petland’s sale of animals does so much more harm than good that rescue groups would be better off going elsewhere to adopt out their animals, giving positive public relations to someone more deserving. Besides, Petland’s cages are so small, most rescue groups would not want their animals housed there.

3) Do you think your protests are doing any good?

Yes, we think they are doing a lot of good. We have handed out literally thousands of fliers explaining that Petland gets puppies from puppy mills. Virtually every weekend since mid-July of 2004, hundreds of cars have seen our very visible "Boycott Petland" signs as they drive along Pickett Street. We are spreading the word everywhere we go. We have seen the shock on the faces of people when they learn about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills. People who were planning on buying animals at Petland walk away with information about rescue groups and shelters instead. When we protest, former employees and people who bought sick animals at Petland come up to us with valuable information. People who had their suspicions about Petland are reassured by our presence and our information--yes, puppy mill puppies are being sold HERE, in Fairfax, at this store, not someplace far away. They wave, honk, give us a thumbs-up, and tell their friends. There are a million residents of Fairfax county. That is not an infinite number. We reach more people every day.

4) I've been to some of the stores in your "Hall of Shame," and the owners seem pretty nice. Why don't you limit your list to the worst stores?

Animals are living creatures with feelings who find themselves alive on this planet just as we do. We do not feel humans should be buying and selling them for fun and profit. We feel people should know better, and that's why this list is called the Hall of Shame. Beyond that, there are so many variables to weigh to decide what stores are the worst, we're not going to attempt it here. Here are some issues that people take into consideration, although we don't agree with all of them:

1) Is it a chain store that sells hundreds of thousands of animals or just a Mom and Pop operation that sells a few hundred a year?

2) How are the living conditions at the breeding facilities, during transport, and at the store?

3) If cages in animal shelters are sometimes small because of the constant surplus of homeless animals, does that mean it's OK for pet stores, whose motive is profit, to bring more animals into the world and then house them in small cages?

4) Do some of the animals in the store appear sick or in distress? How many of the animals must be sick or in distress before we consider it a bad store?

5) What happens to the sick or unsold animals?

6) Does the store do anything positive for homeless animals, such as inviting rescue groups in to adopt out animals? Is that enough to offset the harm the store does by selling animals? It is just a token gesture for public relations, or is it more substantial?

7) Does the store make more money by selling animals or by selling supplies?

8) Does the store make a big profit or is it just squeaking by?

9) Do the owners take good care of some of the animals but not others? Is that good enough?

10) Is the store truthful about where it's getting its animals from and about their health?

11) Do the store owners act as if they care about animals? If they do, is it just an act? Or are they openly hostile when someone informs them their animals are sick or dying?

You decide what is important to you. Whenever it is humanly possible, we choose to buy at stores that sell supplies only.

5) Most pet stores do sell animals. If we boycott those, where will we get supplies for our own companion animals?

We boycott the stores that we find the most repulsive, such as Petland, where you look into the eyes of many suffering animals every time you go into the store. There are a number of stores in the DC metro area that sell supplies only, not live animals, and we recommend those. I'm going to spell them backwards so that they aren't accidentally linked with "pet store cruelty" through a quick search on Google! Our local favorite is (spelled backwards) S'REBEW near the intersection of Route 236 and Route 29 in Fairfax City. They sell no animals, the supplies they sell tend to be more healthful for animals than those in other stores, they very frequently invite rescue groups in for adoption days, and they are happy to display anti-puppy-mill information on their bulletin board. A chain store that very rarely sells animals is (spelled backwards) ULAVTEP. In some cases you may need something not commonly carried in stores, such as certain supplies for birds. If you don't have time to go far out of your way to mail-order something or drive a long distance, you may find yourself shopping at a store that sells animals. It's an imperfect world.

6) What about Petsmart and Petco?

These large chain stores get points for not selling dogs and cats, for donating to animal charities, and for giving rescue groups a place to show animals available for adoption. That's great. However, they sell a huge number of small animals. That's bad. We leave it up to you to decide how you rate them. For a thorough consideration of this issue from the point of view of someone who cares about animals other than dogs and cats, see

7) Why don't you help people instead of animals?
When we stand out on the street protesting about the suffering and death of animals, we get this question in many forms. Yet in all the times we've gone to movies, restaurants, shopping malls, video stores, concerts, beaches, hotels, sporting events, and any other place where people go for entertainment, we have never been asked this question. Why don't you ask people at those places what they are doing to help? Some people there may help others, and some may not, but you are asking us this at the very moment when we are doing something that is not fun, trying to alleviate some of the suffering in the world. Each individual is passionate about certain issues because of his or her life experiences. Do you ask a mother whose child has been killed by a drunk driver to stop volunteering for MADD and devote all her time to helping hungry children in Africa instead? Do you ask a person whose parents died young of cancer to stop worrying about disease and fight nuclear proliferation instead? The amount of suffering in the world is tremendous, and we cannot all do everything. We care about people, and we care about animals. The two are not mutually exclusive. We are moved to help creatures who are suffering because of human greed and selfishness. We hope you will spend your time helping to make the world a better place in whatever way you choose.

What You Can Do

Not everyone can make it out to a protest, but there are other ways to help fight pet-store cruelty. Here are a few suggested actions you can take. They are mostly geared toward the D.C. area, but some are national. We will be updating this list regularly.

* VISIT PETLAND and see for yourself the cramped, hard cages and sad, lonely puppies--and that is nothing compared to the misery their mothers and fathers are enduring in puppy mills. If you ask where their puppies come from, they will probably say "private breeders" or "brokers." They don't want to tell you their puppies were born in the Midwest--Puppy Mill Central in the U.S.--and that their broker is the Hunte Corp., notorious for obtaining puppies from puppy mills. But whatever you do, don't buy a puppy. Each week, very young, fragile puppies are trucked from the Midwest to this store. Any puppy you "rescue" will be immediately replaced by another. Encourage everyone you know to boycott pet stores that sell animals for profit.

* COMPLAIN TO AUTHORITIES. At any Virginia pet store, look for these violations of state law: 1) mesh flooring that allows an animal's legs to fall through, sag under the animal's weight, or otherwise injure the animal's feet and toes; 2) puppies without a solid resting platform, or with a platform not large enough to lie on; 3) animals in cages too small for them to turn around in; 4) animals that are sick or in distress; 5) very dirty cages--animals in contact with waste; 6) animals that appear undernourished or dehydrated; 7) animal being abused by a person; 8) animals suffering in excessive heat or cold; 9) puppies or kittens under 8 weeks old, if imported from another state and offered for sale without their mothers. If you see violations at the Fairfax Petland, call the Fairfax City Police at 703-385-7924.

* REPORT VIOLATIONS OF CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS. Virginia state law requires pet dealers to include the NAME and ADDRESS of their breeders when selling puppies registered with the AKC or similar registries. Yet Petland has been known to tell customers it has a "strict privacy policy" and has failed to disclose its puppies' Midwestern origin. (The papers may say "H&H Pets," but that is the broker--Hunte Corp.--not the breeder.) If you or someone you know purchased a puppy at Petland and the breeder's name and address are not on the registration papers, please complain to Petland. If they do not provide this information, call the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963. They will ask you to file a written complaint by printing out the simple form at and mailing it to the address on the form. Mention Virginia state law 3.1-796.78 and include a copy of your dog's registration papers. Also alert other customers about this: send a letter explaining your complaint to the local Better Business Bureau (fax) 202-393-1198 or mail it to BBB, 1411 K St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. Or submit your complaint online at Include a copy of your dog's registration papers. Whether or not you received the breeder information, please write us at

* REPORT YOUR PURCHASE OF A SICK PUPPY. Local vets confirm that Petland puppies are sicklier than most. Did you or someone you know buy a sick puppy at the Fairfax City Petland or any other area pet store? Report this to the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963. Also let us know at

* PROTEST! Join one of our weekly peaceful, legal protests outside Petland. Contact us at for more information.

* GET THE WORD OUT. Know another sickening pet store that sells puppies and kittens? E-mail us at so that we can list it in our "Pet Store Hall of Shame." Briefly describe the conditions there and try to find out who their supplier is so that we can include that, too.

* LET THE STORE KNOW WHY YOU'RE NOT SHOPPING THERE. Write or call the local Petland to tell them you will never buy anything at their store as long as they sell animals. The address in Fairfax: Kareem Koshok, Manager, Petland, 9404-A Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22031. Phone: 703-323-6355. Also tell the Petland corporate office at 1-800-221-5935. Or check out their website at and e-mail them at, or write to Petland Corporate Office, 250 Riverside St., Chillicothe, Ohio 45601.

* ENCOURAGE PEOPLE YOU KNOW TO ADOPT A HOMELESS ANIMAL. If you know someone who is planning on getting a dog or other animal, please refer them to, also available as a free booklet that you can pick up at the entrance of area stores. It lists D.C. area shelters and rescue groups. Tell them they can save the life of a beautiful, healthy purebred or mixed breed dog by adopting for a small fee, rather than paying Petland's outrageous prices of over $1,000. Remind them that AKC papers have nothing to do with the health of an animal. Also let them know that abandoned cats, rabbits, ferrets, and other animals desperately need homes and are readily available from shelters and rescue groups. is another very useful site for adoption information.

* WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR. When you see an article about dogs in your local paper, write a letter to the editor explaining what puppy mills are and why Petland's sale of puppy mill puppies and other animals disgusts you. Try the Fairfax Extra section of the Washington Post at or fax to 703-273-2836 or write to Fairfax Extra, 4020 University Dr., Suite 220, Fairfax, VA 22030. Or the Northern Virginia Journal at; fax 703-846-8366, or mail letters to Northern Virginia Journal, 6408 Edsall Rd., Alexandria, VA 22312.

* In his March 22, 2005, column in the Washington Post, Dr. Michael Fox mentioned that mange is "more common than you'd expect, especially in pups from pet stores and puppy mills." Explain further in emails to

* The Friday March 25, 2005, Weekend section of the Washington Post, page 52, mentioned several fun places where D.C. area residents can go with their dogs. This type of article appears frequently in area papers. A letter to the editor could explain that while some companion animals are lucky that their guardians cater to their needs, pet stores right down the street make animals suffer every day by trading in animals bred under horrible conditions, by confining animals in cramped cages inside stores, and by pumping animals (often sickly) into the community and therefore increasing the number of animals killed in area shelters. A short letter, even 3 sentences, is great. Writing to TV stations after similar segments would also be great.

* Residents of Fairfax City may have seen the "FETCH a dog from a shelter, not a pet store" ad on the back of four city buses during the month of March. PETA learned of our Petland campaign and kindly offered to help by placing these ads. To explain WHY not to buy animals in stores, email the DC Examiner by going to, Contact Info, Voice your Opinion; or email the Fairfax Chronicle at

* ASK FAIRFAX CITY TO BAN STORES THAT SELL PUPPIES AND KITTENS. We will be approaching local officials shortly to propose a ban on the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores in Fairfax City. Let Fairfax City elected officials know you would support such a proposal. Mayor Robert Lederer's e-mail address is City council members and their e-mails are listed on the Fairfax City government website at

* CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN. Please support the Pet Animal Welfare Statute of 2005 (S1139 and HR 2669). E-mail or call your U.S. senators and congresspeople and tell them to vote YES for this bill. Their contact info is at and Currently many people are selling animals over the Internet and through newspaper ads, and the USDA does not inspect their facilities at all. This bill would require breeding operations that sell directly to the public and produce 7 or more litters of cats or dogs each year to obtain a USDA license, which means they would be inspected by the USDA. USDA inspections do not stop filthy, overcrowded, sickeningly cruel breeding mills from existing, as the inspections are infrequent and violations are seldom punished. But inspections are a step in the right direction.

Also encourage them to sponsor a bill outlawing puppy mills completely.

* SUPPORT EFFORTS TO IMPROVE VIRGINIA ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS. is a group that is working to help companion animals by calling for the ban of gas chambers and improving other animal protection laws.

* GET THE MEDIA TO EXPOSE PUPPY MILLS. Ask Dateline NBC to rerun and update its excellent April 2000 puppy mill story. They can be reached at or Story Suggestion, Dateline NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NY, NY 10112. Or call 212-664-7501 or fax 212-664-7073. Write to Chris Hansen, the correspondent who worked on the puppy mill expos�. Contact other national news shows such as 20/20 as well.

* Ask Oprah to expose puppy mills. Oprah Winfrey calls her dogs "humans with fur." Write and, if you like, send pictures (for example, of your rescued dog) and videos to the folks at the Oprah Winfrey show, at:

Oprah Winfrey Show
c/o Harpo Studios
1058 W. Washington
Chicago, IL 60607-2103.

On the lower corner of the envelope, write "Show Idea" so that it will go to the correct department. You can submit show ideas online at and proceed to "e-mail us."

* COMPLAIN ABOUT PETLAND ADS. Petland commercials have been airing on Animal Planet in our local area. For commercials that mention specific LOCAL stores, complain to the local cable company, which in our area is Cox Communications, by e-mailing

For commercials that are NATIONAL in scope, complain to Discovery Channel Viewer Relations at 1-859-342-8439 or write to
Discovery Communications
One Discovery Place
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910.

Or go to and send an e-mail by going to "contact us" and "viewer relations." You can also try e-mailing Discovery President William Campbell,, and three other Discovery executives:;;

* TELL THE STORE VET TO SEVER TIES WITH ANIMAL ABUSERS. The Fairfax City Petland's new vet is Dr. Rose Fiskett of Potomac Valley Veterinary Hospital. Vets don't necessarily know more about puppy mills than the average person. Inform her that Petland gets puppies from cruel puppy mills, that many of the puppies will be sick, that the sick puppies that she deems unfit for sale will be sent back to be killed or turned into breeders, and that many compassionate vets in the area have refused to work for Petland. Ask her to stop working for this disreputable company immediately.

Dr. Rose Fiskett
Potomac Valley Veterinary Hospital
9553 Braddock Road Fairfax, VA 22032-2539
phone: 703-425-7387 fax: 703-425-8082

*Petland's previous vet was VCA Old Town Animal Hospital, which kept working for Petland for many months after it found out about the many sick puppies coming from Petland. Ask what took them so long to sever the ties and why it is STILL WORKING for Just Puppies, another notorious puppy mill store.

VCA Old Town Hospital
425 N. Henry St.
Alexandria, VA 22314 703-549-3647
(phone) 703-549-0992 (fax)

*TELL THE AKC TO STOP HELPING PUPPY MILLS MAKE MONEY. The AKC registers hundreds of thousands of puppy mill puppies each year, making a tidy profit off of an industry it claims to despise. Tell AKC directors to stop registering puppies from breeders who attempt to register more than 6 (or whatever number you like) litters each year. Write to:

Ronald H. Menaker, Chairman
American Kennel Club
260 Madison Ave. NY, NY 10016
Or call 212-692-8200 or e-mail, "Contact us." You can also sign the petition at

*TELL THE PFIZER CORPORATION TO STOP SUPPORTING THE CRUELTY OF THE HUNTE CORPORATION. At a recent Hunte Corporation Open House, not only was Pfizer present as a vendor, but they also had one of their vets give a lecture. The Hunte Corporation has a long history of buying from puppy mills and is the supplier to Petland and many other pet stores, shipping roughly 1,000 puppies every week.
Pfizer’s Manager of Marketing Communications, Denise Ulrich, can be reached at 1-800-366-5288. They cannot be contacted via their website at

* TELL PETLAND'S LANDLORD WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE STORE. The company that leases property to Petland is Combined Properties, Inc. Encourage them not to renew Petland's lease. Let them know that Petland is a disreputable company that deals with puppy mills, violates anti-cruelty law, makes animals miserable, and that neighbors are disturbed each week by the cries of puppies being unloaded from the Hunte Corporation's truck. Please write to:
Mr. Steve Halle, Vice President, Property Management
1255 22nd St NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20037

Or e-mail Steve Halle and Andrew Nadler at and, or call 202-293-4500, or fax 202-833-3013.

* LET BUSINESSPEOPLE KNOW THAT SELLING PUPPY MILL PUPPIES IS BAD BUSINESS. Entrepreneur Magazine recently rated Petland #1 among pet store franchises, and 248th out of 500 franchises of all kinds. Let its readers--aspiring businesspeople--know that they should not join the Petland franchise if they care about animals. E-mail your comments by going to, then select "Contact Us" and Letters to the Editor."

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