Local Pet Store Hit With Cease and Desist Over Deceptive Advertising and Puppy Mill Ties


For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Chesapeake, Va. – Today, PETA fired off a letter to Family Pet Center (FPC) owner Corine Cowan, demanding that the store remove deceptive claims on its website that it does not source dogs from puppy mills and that the puppies “are bred in the best conditions possible,” noting that FPC does sell dogs from puppy mills, including BJ’s and Guys, a Kansas-based breeding operation with nearly 1,000 dogs onsite and a history of federal Animal Welfare Act violations. The group’s letter gives the Greenbrier Mall store until December 30 to comply—or PETA will be compelled to seek enforcement action by appropriate authorities under Virginia’s false advertising law.

PETA points out that dogs at BJ’s and Guys have been found housed outdoors with no bedding in winter and left in extreme heat without adequate air conditioning in summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also documented that dogs were left to suffer with untreated injuries and ailments at the puppy mill.

PETA also notes that FPC’s misleading claims may lead consumers to unknowingly purchase puppies who may have severe health issues. As the Virginia General Assembly unanimously agreed in its 2020 resolution to make December Puppy Mill Awareness Month, “[D]ogs from puppy mills are often underdeveloped, sick, or suffer from genetic deformities or behavioral defects as a result of poor socialization and mistreatment, and some may even die only days or weeks after purchase.”

“Family Pet Center is trying to dupe customers into believing that these dogs weren’t sourced from seedy mills that stockpile puppies,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is giving this shady shop two weeks to drop the lies and is calling on everyone to adopt from animal shelters.”

In November, a PETA investigator visited 16 of Virginia’s 18 pet stores that sell puppies and found that most—including FPC—violated state law by either failing to display a sign stating that the USDA inspection reports on the breeders whose puppies they sell are available to customers prior to purchase or outright refusing to show prospective buyers the dogs’ records. There were 11,130 dogs on site just at the USDA-licensed puppy mills that supply the 16 stores. Meanwhile, Virginia’s shelters—like others nationwide—struggle with a homeless-animal overpopulation crisis that’s taxing resources. More information about PETA’s investigation is available here.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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