250 Granite Street
Braintree, MA 02184
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 09/29/2018; approximately 2 p.m.
Number of dogs observed at time of investigation: approximately 30
Pet Express has five locations in Massachusetts, three of which sell puppies. Puppies were in closed-topped, glass-fronted enclosures. Bedding consisted of shredded paper. Cage cards were on each enclosure and gave the state where the puppies came from but not the town. According to the cage cards, all puppies in this store came from Minnesota or Missouri.
There was a pet shop license posted in the store but no state-required disclosure sign (330 CMR § 12.05 Restriction of Sale (2)).
I spoke with a female employee, Mary. She said she was the manager. Mary told me that the puppies came from USDA licensed breeders that were not puppy mills. She added that the family that owns Pet Express had been working with the same trusted breeders for years, and that the pet shop transports the dogs themselves. Mary told me that each puppy came with a one-year health warranty and a three-year hereditary/congenital defect warrant. The first veterinary visit is free. Mary said that if I bought a puppy I could use their vet or the store would give me $1,000 toward vet bills if the puppy got sick.
The statement that Pet Express has been working with the same trusted breeders for years is not true. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVIs) indicate that Pet Express used to obtain puppies from The Hunte Corporation (now doing business under the name Choice Puppies), a broker (USDA “B” license) in Goodman, MO. Before Andrew Hunte passed away and his wife sold the company to new owners, Hunte was the largest broker in the country, shipping as many as 2,000 puppies a week to pet shops. A CAPS investigator worked undercover at Hunte for six months in 2004. They use numerous breeders in the Midwest, some of whom CAPS investigated. Booking agents, some of whom work directly for Hunte and others who are small brokers, work directly with the breeders to “book” the puppies. The booking agents transport the puppies from around the Midwest to Hunte.
CVIs show that Pet Express now uses two USDA licensed brokers to obtain their puppies: Menning Enterprises in Edgerton, MN and Pinnacle Pet/Sobrad LLC in Neosho, MO. The Menning facility has more than 500 adult breeding dogs and usually more than 300 puppies. It also brokers dogs from other breeders (puppy mills). Menning has trucks that transport their puppies to pet shops, making it unlikely that Pet Express picks up puppies for their stores.
Pinnacle Pet is a broker in Neosho, MO that obtains puppies from mills to resell to pet shops. The breeders that have sold to them include Marlin Bontrager in Missouri, Menno Yoder in Ohio and Irene Phillips in Kansas.
Bontrager’s USDA violations include dogs in enclosures registering 90 degrees F, beetles in feces, fecal accumulation, and grime on whelping enclosures. Yoder’s violations include gum disease in numerous dogs, excessively long nails, accumulation of stains and grime around drains and wash downs. Phillips violations include exposed screws and sharp points, broken and protruding wires, chewed and worn enclosures, lack of wind/rain breaks, rusty metal and rotting wood.
Pinnacle Pet also has a carrier’s license (USDA “T” license). Brokers can also transport but often get another license just for commercial transporting. Again, being that Pinnacle has trucks that transport their puppies to pet shops, it is unlikely that Pet Express picks up puppies for their stores.
I asked Mary for information about a puppy, and she was reluctant to provide it, with the exception of veterinary records. She said that the store did not give out details on breeders until the time of purchase. Mary said that this was because customers would buy directly from the breeders instead of the store, and also because animal activists have tried to cause trouble for the store and the breeder (330 CMR § 12.05 Restriction of Sale (2)). Massachusetts law does require pet shops to disclose the city/town and state of birth prior to purchase.