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Lawsuit: Kansas City-area woman claims Petland Blue Springs sold her 2 sick puppies

Posted: 2:00 PM, May 28, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-28 19:27:34-04
Jeanna Moore

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City-area woman is suing Petland Blue Springs, claiming the business sold her not one but two sick puppies.

One of the dogs died when he was just 10 months old.

“I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what I’ve gone through,” said Jeanna Moore, who is suing Petland Blue Springs.

Over the past year, the KSHB 41 I-Team looked into allegations raised by Moore, of Bates City, Missouri, and consumers who bought puppies from Petland stores in six other states: Georgia, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.

In Florida, the attorney general recovered $200,000 for pet owners in 2022. The case centered on two Orlando-area franchised stores.

Jeanna Moore's story

Jeanna Moore would not know it then, but Buddy would help her heal.

“He made me smile, and I hadn’t done that in quite a while,” she said.

Moore brought the English Mastiff home in February 2019. It was nearly four years after her oldest son, Chris, died by suicide.

“This is a letter he wrote me. 'Love always, forever your son, Chris.' And I called him Buddy,” Moore said while referencing a tattoo on her arm.

Buddy, a special nickname for her son, is now the same name as her four-legged companion.

“He’s more like my son I lost than a dog,” she said.

Moore bought the Mastiff from the Petland store in Blue Springs, Missouri. She paid more than $1,500 for the four-month-old puppy.

“When you were buying this puppy, what did they tell you?” KSHB 41 I-Team's Cameron Taylor asked Moore.

“He was registered. He’s healthy. He came from a good breeder,” Moore responded.

The examining veterinarian signed a document stating Buddy was “healthy and fit for sale."

Veterinarian diagnoses Buddy with hip dysplasia

Two months later, when Buddy was just six months old, Moore’s veterinarian diagnosed the puppy with hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a crippling disease, often linked to genetics, that affects the growth of a dog’s hip joint.

Moore alleges she told the store about Buddy’s diagnosis.

“I told them he’s got problems, and they said, ‘We can either give you your money back or give you another dog,'" Moore said.

But she was determined not to give up on Buddy, a loving reminder of her late son’s memory.

She took Buddy to the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center for surgery to replace his right hip.

“They never worked on an animal that big, but they got him through it,” Moore said.

Today, Buddy is up on all four paws and is doing surprisingly well.

“He means everything to me. He’s my companion,” Moore said.

LINK | Read the lawsuit

Moore's lawsuit alleges she spent more than $30,000 in veterinary bills for Buddy.

Because of Buddy’s health issues, the lawsuit stated the store offered Moore a second puppy under its warranty program — a brindle English Mastiff named Axel.

A few months later, veterinarians diagnosed Axel with congenital renal dysplasia, resulting in renal failure.

Moore had to make the heartbreaking decision to put Axel down when he was 10 months old.

“That was so hard. It was like losing my son again,” she said.

In court documents, Moore claimed the store “either knew" or "was intentionally ignorant” of Buddy’s health problems and Axel’s increased risk of significant health issues.

Her lawsuit also alleged the store misrepresented that Buddy and Axel came from breeders certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Instead, Moore's lawsuit claims both dogs came from puppy mills, which “significantly heightened” Buddy’s risk for hip dysplasia and increased Axel’s chances of “having significant health issues.”

“They’re not healthy. Within a year of them being alive, before their 1st birthdays, we found out they had issues,” she said.

LINK | Response from Petland Blue Springs to Moore's lawsuit

In court records, the store denied Moore's allegations, claiming the dogs were examined by a veterinarian and determined to be in good health.

The store’s attorney, C. Brooks Wood, responded to Moore’s lawsuit in a statement to the I-Team:

“Although we cannot comment on ongoing legal matters, I can note that the Moore case was filed in early 2020 and later voluntarily dismissed by the customer and then refiled two years later. We anticipate this case will also be dismissed.

"The health and well-being of the pets in Petland’s care is its highest priority. Petland Blue Springs has a state-licensed consulting veterinarian that examines all puppies, and documents the examinations, before the puppies are available to customers. The veterinarian provides and establishes all treatment protocols. Any significant health-related matter that arises in the store is treated by a veterinarian. In the rare case a puppy tests positive for Parvo, it is quickly isolated and transferred to the veterinarian for treatment, as per the veterinarian protocol.

"Puppies, like babies, ... do sometimes get sick. Petland provides customers with a 14-day viral and bacterial warranty as well as a 2-year congenital and hereditary warranty. Customers receive all paperwork related to the puppy including veterinarian health exams, vaccination schedules, breeder information, and USDA inspection reports. All customers also receive their first vet visit free of charge.”
Wood

The store’s attorney also said, “Petland Blue Springs is a family-operated small business that has been in Blue Springs for seven years and is licensed and inspected by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Everyone in the store loves animals and Petland is proud of the care it provides.”

Moore's lawsuit was not an isolated case

During the I-Team's investigation, KSHB 41 discovered Moore's lawsuit was not an isolated case.

We found at least 20 other lawsuits since 2017 against Petland, Inc., its franchise stores or both in seven states: Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Texas, West Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.

Common allegations in the lawsuits included:

  • Health of the puppies (20)
  • Source of the puppies (13)
  • Warranty program (10) 

Of those lawsuits, nine are pending, five are dismissed and six settled, including a Florida attorney general’s case that recovered $200,000 for consumers.
In a separate civil case, a Missouri man won $1,200.

Petland, Inc. responds to lawsuits

In a statement, Elizabeth Kunzelman, vice president of legislative and public affairs for Petland, Inc., said the "health and wellbeing of our pets is our utmost priority."

"Regarding lawsuits against Petland, Inc. by consumers, Petland, Inc. is not aware of any lawsuit in the last 15 years that involved any finding of wrongdoing or liability by Petland, Inc.  (This is not to suggest that any lawsuits more than 15 years old included such findings, however, the time limitation is simply because institutional memory is difficult to recreate as the time period gets longer.) For perspective, Petland and its franchisees sell more than 60,000 puppies in the United States every year. In the 7-year span of the lawsuits cited, we have sold approximately 420,000 puppies. We are proud to have a track record where far, far less than half of 1% of these sales result in any type of legal claim (.0055%).

"Puppies, like human babies, sometimes become ill.  Petland, Inc. offers customer warranties, the terms of which apply where a claim arises after purchase. Most legal claims involve customers who refuse to abide by the terms of the warranty.

“The health and well-being of our pets is always our number one priority. Petland exercises the highest standards in sourcing high-quality pets, and in the medical care of the pets we offer to our guests. The complaints you have referenced are not representative of the experiences of the vast majority of Petland customers and are not a fair sample of our business. For as many complaints made, we have tens of thousands of guests who can share positive, endearing, and joyful experiences with their puppy beginning the moment they meet in one of our locations. As a matter of fact, many of our puppy families come back to us for their second puppy, and in some cases their third or fourth dog. 

"At Petland, we want and expect every puppy to be the perfect match with their new owner, and to live long and healthy lives. However, there are those rare situations when life doesn’t go as planned. Puppies, like babies, can get sick, which is why each store has a consulting state-licensed veterinarian, and we provide a comprehensive health warranty.”
Kunzelman

Humane Society of the United States provides perspective

John Goodwin, with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said he and his team have investigated the source of Petland puppies for nearly 20 years and the stores themselves for six years.

“Many unsuspecting families end up getting puppies who are sick or otherwise have very expensive veterinary conditions,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin told the I-Team he’s read the lawsuits we reviewed.

“Unfortunately, we’re getting complaints like this literally every day,” Goodwin said.

Petland, Inc. responded with a statement on HSUS.

“Their ‘investigations’ are often internet searches or planting someone in a store, who later relays inaccurate information and takes pictures that are conveniently staged. They are not animal welfare or kennel management experts. They are fundraisers.

"HSUS and local activists continue to misrepresent our business and spread false information to push their agenda. It’s unfortunate because that money and time would be much better spent working with us and working for animals in local communities.”
Petland, Inc.

Kansas City veterinarian weighs in

The I-Team also spoke with Dr. Heather Kvitko-White, a board-certified small animal internal medicine specialist in Kansas City.

Kvitko-White said she has treated sick Petland puppies within the last four years.

“When you hear the name Petland, what crosses your mind?” investigator Cameron Taylor asked.

“Sick puppies. That’s the first thing I think of is sick puppies,” she responded. “I think you could ask a large number of veterinary professionals and have a similar first reaction."

“On average here, when a Petland puppy came to your clinic, on a scale from one to 10, how sick were they?” Taylor asked.

“Probably ranged between a six and a nine. Pretty sick," Kvitko-White said.

Moore's message

Although Moore is still grieving Axel’s death, she wanted to share her cautionary tale to protect other pet owners.

“What is your message to someone who might be considering buying a dog from Petland?” Taylor asked.

“Run, run and don’t look back,” she responded.

Moore’s case is set for trial in December.