This weekend, animal rights activist Jason Miller and Bite Club of KC are targeting another retailer they claim is linked to animal abuse. This time the deer defenders are teaming up with a local group that crusades against puppy mills to protest Petland.
It's not the first time KC Citizens for Canine Causes has picketed Petland, one of the nation's largest pet stores with more than 130 locations (four in Missouri and four in Kansas). They hoisted placards outside the big-box store in 2008 and 2009. They're not the only group that insists the pet retailer pedals cruelty.
In 2008 and 2009, the Humane Society of the United States tracked Petland's puppies back to their source and suggested that many of them were coming from large-scale puppy mills, where dogs were bred in filthy, cramped spaces that fly in the face of federal law. Last March, they sued the retailer for allegedly defrauding customers by making them believe their new pets came from mom-and-pop breeders instead of gigantic facilities that churn out thousands of dogs each year.
For the past two years, KC Citizens for Canine Causes protested area Petlands. "While shelters kill tens of millions of 'unwanted' puppies and dogs each year, ruthless corporations like Petland profit by persuading unwitting individuals to spend top dollar on puppies and dogs who only exist because unethical breeders and puppy mills crank them out in assembly line fashion, treating sentient beings as commodities," the group's latest press release claims.
Rhianna Connell, the manager of the targeted Olathe store, has a well-rehearsed response to the allegations. "They have good intentions," she said of the protesters. "They're just misguided." All Petland dogs are raised in USDA-approved facilities or by hobby breeders, Connell said. The company's Web site also dismisses concerns about puppy welfare: "We know that members of some animal rights groups would have you believe that all pet store puppies are bred and raised in substandard facilities. This is untrue. ... The pet professionals we are associated with share our commitment to the highest standards of pet care."
The demonstration starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at 2008 East Santa Fe in Olathe. No word on what theatrics Miller has planned for this protest.