6429 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 5/23/23, 1534
Approximate number of puppies observed at time of investigation: 40
Luis Marquez, the largest Petland franchise owner, owns Petland Bellaire. The employee’s lies and misrepresentations were the same ones consistently told at his stores. Puppies were kept in enclosures set into walls on two sides of the store. Enclosures were about five feet wide and tall and 2.5 feet long. Each held between 1-4 puppies. There were about ten enclosures on each wall, made with plastic walls and plastic floorings filled with long spaces for urine to fall through. Some enclosures had blankets partially covering the floorings, but most did not. All had water bottles and toys. An employee said that the store receives 20-30 new puppies every week.
The standard “Marquez two percent lie” and the “acres of land lie”
I spoke to an employee (male about 22 years old, 5’4″, 130 lbs., with short black hair) about puppies. He quoted a standard lie stated by Marquez-owned store employees: The store uses the “top two percent of USDA-certified breeders.” When I asked the employee what the USDA was, he said, “The USDA is going to be like a food and pharmacy, stuff for us as well. So, they are the United States organization that goes over there, and kind of like checks them, and specializes in them, and makes sure they are following guidelines.” He added, “They personally go over, you know that USDA person will personally go over there and inspect the area as well. Make sure they’re being taken care of, make sure the area is clean, good, organic. But also that they’re living in a good area.”
I asked him to explain what the “top two percent” meant, and he rambled at length. He said, “It’s going to be top two percent of USDA-certified. So, they’re only going to be the top two percent breeders of who they certify as breeders. So, it’s not just going to be any breeders that they certify as breeders. Because they’re going to certify a few people as breeders.” I then asked him again to explain what the difference between the “top two percent” of USDA-licensed breeders that Marquez buys from, versus the other ninety-eight percent of USDA-licensed breeders. He said, “What’s the difference, that makes a difference, I want to say is just going to be like the space that they’re at. It depends on how large a facility. It could be space that they’re at. It could be how it looks around the area, I want to say. But it would just depend on what they specialize in or how they look at the area.”
The employee explained the store’s breeding facilities by saying, “They have a lot of acres of land that they are able to play around as well. They’re making sure they have the best life possible before they come into the store.” He claimed breeding kennels are “up north” “because of the land” that is spacious for the dogs. The employee insinuated the dogs are running on open land, however, as opposed to the reality of them living in kennels.
Employee claimed the store rescues all spent breeding dogs
I asked what happens to breeding dogs when they aren’t being used by the store’s breeders anymore, and the worker claimed that all the dogs are sent to the store to be sold to customers. However, while I was at the store, no breeding dogs were there. He also said that breeding dogs are socialized by breeders. “They do play with the dogs. The thing is that they’re, it’s also open to the public as well, so people can go over there and interact with the puppies.”
Lie about how breeding works
I asked the worker, “Do you know how many dogs they have? Do they have a hundred, or just like five?” He answered, “No, it’s probably going to be around, it’s, every section has like their own different breeder, so like each breeder that we have specializes on a specific breed. Or maybe like a small breed, or a few small breeds, or a few big breeds. But it will be on each independent breeder. But each independent breeder has like its own.” He added, “None of them carry more than, I want to say, probably like, maybe like, thirty. Forty. Just depending on, yeah, yeah.”
Lies about financing
When I asked what the APR was like for financing a puppy purchase, the employee said it was from “seven percent” to “twenty-ish” percent. He told me, “So anywhere from like seven to twenty percent.” Of course, the Petland Credit Card has a 29.99% APR. When I asked what recourse companies have if I can’t make a payment, he told me a lending company would “come to an understanding” with me. He did not mention payments being sent to a collection agency or a civil lawsuit as consistent results of puppy purchasers missing payments.
Employee blatantly lied about operating illegally
In reference to an ordinance that prohibits retail pet shops from selling dogs and cats from breeders in Houston city limits, I asked the employee, “isn’t there a law, like you can’t sell puppies in Houston?” He answered, “They tried to pass a law with that one, but I believe it wasn’t passed. But I know that there was kind of like a law passing that, where you couldn’t sell the puppies from breeders. But it hasn’t passed.”
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations by store
The employee’s claim that the store uses the “top two percent of USDA-certified breeders” is a lie consistently told by employees of Petlands owned by Luis Marquez. There is no such thing as a ranking system of USDA breeders. Marquez simply claims that the breeders he purchases from are the “top two percent,” and his employees make it sound as though doing so is part of a USDA government ranking system when it is not.
The employee’s claim that dogs have “acres of land” is another common deceptive statement used by many pet shops, and certainly a common one at Marquez-owned Petlands. The lie insinuates dogs have acres of open land to run and play on, which is not true. Dogs live confined in kennels, and for dogs who are sometimes let out into play areas, they are typically on areas of dirt or crushed rock and not open acres. Also, dogs do not have open access to these play areas, as the Petland videos insinuate by showing dogs and puppies running in grassy yards.
The employee’s claim that the store rescues the spent breeding dogs of the breeders they use is untrue. The store may take in some, but to take in all of them would mean a consistent flow of dogs that would frequently be in the store. Most dogs are bred until they are five to six years old and are then retired. CAPS obtained CVIs showing that in 2022 Petland Bellaire bought puppies from numerous breeders, including Prairie View Kennel in West Plains, MO (43-A-6410) which had 93 dogs, and Ben Schwartz (43-A-6707) in Licking, MO, who had 113 dogs. If the store was selling all the spent breeding dogs of their breeders, they would constantly be full of older breeding dogs. The employee’s claim that the dogs are socialized is false. Commercial breeders do not spend time with their dogs other than what is necessary for cleaning, feeding, and, in rare instances, basic grooming.
The employee’s claim that breeders specialize in a breed or have a “few” small or large breed dogs is untrue. Given the dozens (or even over a hundred) dogs that the store’s breeders have, it is apparent they follow what most commercial breeders do, which is to have as many popular breeds as possible. The employee’s claim that breeders let the public visit is a totally untrue. For years the USDA has told their breeders not to allow the public to visit them. The more CAPS has uncovered violations at USDA-licensed facilities, the more breeders have told CAPS investigators that their inspectors specifically tell them to not let anyone on their facility so they can keep animal activists out.
The employee’s claim that a law hasn’t passed to prohibit it from selling puppies is false. This store is operating illegally, in violation of Ordinance Ch 6, Article IV, Division 4, Section 6-118 (the Humane Pet Store Ordinance), which took effect 1/18/23, four months before I visited the store.
Sec. 6-118. – Pet and live animal sales
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this section, it is unlawful for anyone to sell or offer for sale in commercial or retail pet store, feed store, or other related retail establishment, any canine or feline of any age that is not sourced from a municipal or county animal shelter, or a humane organization as defined in section 6-1 of this Code.
Commercial or retail establishments selling canines or felines shall keep a record of the animal shelter or humane organization that any canine or feline sold was sourced from. Such records must be kept for a minimum of one year from the date of the sale, and be available for inspection by BARC animal enforcement upon request.
It shall be an affirmative defense to this section, during the period from January 19, 2022 until January 19, 2023, that such an establishment was fully permitted under this division and in operation prior to January 19, 2022. Thereafter, commencing on January 20, 2023, this affirmative defense shall no longer apply. Anytime such an establishment allows for its permit to lapse or it is no longer compliant with section 6-111 of this Code, it must then comply with section 6-118(c) of this Code.
Breeder information obtained from 2022 and 2023 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
Amos Bender, 2710 560th St. SW, Kalona, IA 52247 (unable to find USDA license).
John Wayne Burkholder/J n L Kennels, 2997 S. Hwy E, Norwood, MO 65717, 43-A-6562 (25 adults, 9 puppies on Missouri inspection 04-04-23).
Wayne and Lucy Gingerich, 2688 Hwy J46, Seymour, IA 52590 (unable to find USDA license).
Reuben Herschberger, 16042 250th St., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1698 (14 adults, 14 puppies on 01-04-23 USDA inspection).
Sarah Kauffman/Sunset Grove Kennels, 1534-2 140th, Hazelton, IA 50641, 42-A-1703 (27 adults, 14 puppies on 04-12-23 USDA inspection).
Ivan H. Mast/Country Road Kennels, 1126 Denison, Fairbank, IA 50629, 42-A-1693 (17 adults, 13 puppies on 01-23-23 USDA inspection).
Benjamin Miller, 26040 Rocky, Greentop, MO 63546, no USDA license.
Jay Mullet/Prairie View Kennels, 12025 CR 8110, West Plains, MO 65775, 43-A-6410 (93 adults, 92 puppies on 11-04-22 Missouri inspection).
On 11-04-22, received Missouri violation for dogs jumping from pen to pen. Dogs must be securely contained.
Anna Nisley/Cedar Grove Kennels, 16725 Husky Trail, Drakesville, IA 52552, 42-A-1556 (17 adults, 24 puppies on 10-18-22 USDA inspection).
Marvin Nisley, 2848 Edison, Seymour, IA 52590, 42-A-1509 (70 adults, 45 puppies on USDA 05-10-22 inspection).
Jeremy Rogers/Daynes Ridge Kennel, 25155, 450th St., Centerville, IA 52544 (unable to find USDA license).
Esther D. Schlabach/That’ll Do Kennel, 2842 200th St., Seymour, IA 52590, 42-A-1553 (18 adults, 5 puppies on 10-19-22 USDA inspection).
Ben Schwartz, 14500 Crow Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6707 (113 adults, 60 puppies on Missouri inspection 07-18-22).
Jake Schwartz, 18949 Kofahl Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6599 (61 adults, 30 puppies on USDA inspection 03-07-23).
Simon J. Schwartz, 17420 Boone Creek Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6598 (44 adults, 13 puppies on Missouri 03-23-23 inspection).
On 06-28-22, received USDA violation for dogs’ examinations not up to date.
Edwin J. Stutzman/Walnut Ridge Kennel, 3133 Hwy S40, Corydon, IA 50060, 42-A-1552 (49 adults, 19 puppies on 12-07-22 USDA inspection).
David E. Troyer/Troyer’s Kennel, 18851 Kofhal Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6667 (16 adults, 24 puppies on Missouri inspection 01-09-23).
On 01-09-23, received USDA violation for dogs housed in small enclosures that do not meet space requirements. This spacing violation exposes Petland’s lies about dogs running and playing in large green fields.
David Troyer, 15061 202nd St., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1404 (61 adults, 54 puppies on 02-15-22 USDA inspection).
Vernon Troyer/Shadow Valley, 12672 220th St., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1531 (84 adults, 36 puppies on 10-20-22 USDA inspection).
Daniel D. Yoder, 22475 Hwy 63, Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1638 (11 adults, 15 puppies on 01-24-23 USDA inspection).
James Yoder/Taylor Ridge Kennels, 18727 Flora Ave., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1521 (29 adults, 20 puppies on 02-15-22 USDA inspection).
Mark Yoder, 15910 240th St., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1577 (65 adults, 80 puppies on USDA inspection 01-07-22).
Melvin and Mary Yoder, 3010 Edison, Seymour, IA 52590, 42-A-1605 (34 adults, 6 puppies on USDA 02-15-23 inspection).
On 02-15-23 USDA inspection, received violations for puppies housed with adult dog that was not their mother, dog receiving antibiotic with no treatment plan, four dogs tested for heartworm and fecals with no test results documented.
Melvin Yoder/Pondview Kennel, 27367 Anchor Way, Greentop, MO 63546, 43-A-6063 (26 adults, 28 puppies on 08-11-22 Missouri inspection).
Marvin Ezra Yoder, 19869 180th Ave., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-A-1686 (15 adults, 0 puppies on USDA inspection 11-02-22).
Broker information obtained from 2023 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
K9 Partner, LLC, 19162 Harvest Ave., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-B-0335 (0 adults, 8 puppies on 04-06-23 USDA inspection). Burt Basi, the owner of K9 Partner, is a lawyer in Longboat Key, FL. He incorporated K9 Partner initially under the name of Family Pets, LLC with the Iowa Secretary of State in October 2020. He is involved with various business ventures with Luis Marquez. The address in Bloomfield is associated with an Amish family named Yutzy. They are most likely running the brokerage facility.
Marquez associates Basi and Juan Fernandez Barquin, Jr., a member of the Florida House of Representatives and clerk of the court and comptroller for Miami-Dade County, are also listed as registered agents on Florida incorporation documents for K9 Partners, Inc., 58-B-0722, 8004 NW 154th St. #232, Miami Lakes, FL, which is a UPS store. K9 Partners, Inc. was set up by lawyer Andrew Rohne of Apex Business Consulting in Marion, IL in 2020.
Officer/Director Detail does not list individuals but companies: Canines and Pooches, Inc., 2020 NW 150th Ave, Suite 300A, Pembroke Pines, FL, Canine Shadows at the same address, and The Dynamic Puppy at the Miami Lakes UPS store address. Marquez also has a company called Pet Care Solutions, Inc. at 8181 NW 154Th St., Miami Lakes, FL.
USDA pre-license inspection reports have the Miami Lakes UPS store address. How can USDA inspect a facility that is run from a UPS store? Marquez has to be holding puppies at some of his pet shops, which is where USDA must be doing inspections.
Regina D. Nisley/Shepherd Hills Kennel, 13185 220th St., Bloomfield, IA 52537, 42-B-0332 (97 adults, 54 puppies on 10-18-22 USDA inspection).
Luis Marquez, Petland franchise owner
Luis Marquez owns four Petland franchises in Texas: Webster, Woodlands, Tyler and Bellaire (selling puppies in violation of the Houston ordinance). In Florida, he owns seven Petland franchises (two recently closed) and My Puppy Buddy. He took over the Petland franchise in Overland Park, Kansas, and the Kansas Department of Agriculture ordered him to stop selling puppies because of serious violations. Truist Bank in Florida has filed a foreclosure and commercial line of credit default lawsuit against Marquez’ companies. Marquez owns three veterinary clinics called Your Pet’s Vet in Bellaire and Shenandoah (Woodlands), TX and Pembroke Pines, FL, all locations where he has Petland franchises.
Note regarding number of dogs at above breeding facilities
The number of adult breeding dogs and puppies at the above facilities are consistent with being commercial breeding establishments, also known as puppy mills, that mass produce dogs for resale to pet shops. Please refer to the following link (Summary of legal cases defining “puppy mill”) for a summary of legal cases defining the term “puppy mill.”
Lack of USDA violations
The fact that few breeders and brokers have USDA violations does not mean that none exist. During our undercover investigation of USDA-licensed facilities, we document violations. USDA has made it very easy for licenses not to have violations. In response to regulatory ordinances, USDA was using teachable moments, self-inspections and a trial announced inspection program. Their guidelines also instructed inspectors not to cite ear, eye and dental diseases as veterinary care violations. Due to pressure from animal advocates, USDA has terminated these programs. Nonetheless, the citation of violations by inspectors continues to be extremely limited.