8452 Lockwood Ridge Rd
Sarasota, FL 34243
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 06/29/19; 1237
Approximate number of animals observed at time of investigation: 60 puppies
Puppies were in cages with treated wire floorings, one wire wall, and three solid walls, with one to four puppies per cage. There were about 24 puppy cages in the store. Raised beds were in cages, but some cages held too many puppies to fit into a bed at once. Puppies were sleeping on the wire floorings due to a lack of space in the beds.
I asked an employee (Hispanic female, about 18 years old, 5’4″, 90 lbs., with long black hair) about where the puppies in the store come from, and she told me, “They do not come from puppy mills. They come from our top breeders up in Ohio.” She told me that video of puppies and dogs playing open yard on TVs in the store show breeding conditions for the store’s breeders, and that all breeding dogs have space to run without having to stay in cages or kennels. She also said the breeders themselves bring puppies to the store. She said that one of the store’s breeders used to use Sundowner kennels in 2008 or 2010 but no longer, and claimed that activists show photos of kennels from the 1990s or 2000s that don’t show current kennel conditions.
I then spoke to a woman (Caucasian female, about 45 years old, 5’5″, 125 lbs., with short brown hair and who put on glasses to view an ipad) who identified herself as the Regional Kennel Manager who “inspects all the puppies,” and handles two stores in Georgia, one in South Carolina, and the Sarasota store in Florida. She told me that she was at the breeders when the videos on the TV were taken, and claimed “all the breeders are like that.” She told me that Petland uses breeders in various Midwest states and Texas, and then also said the store only uses breeders from Ohio. It was unclear if she meant other states were used by other Petland stores. She said breeders are in the Midwest because there’s more land there for kennels. She showed me a play area for a breeder and claimed the dogs access the play area twice a day, and told me that breeders’ puppies are also let out to play. I asked if the play areas are required by the USDA, and she nodded her head. She claimed breeders skip breeding cycles, breed dogs only once a year, and stop breeding dogs by the time the dogs are five years old or Petland won’t use the breeder anymore. She also claimed that spent breeding dogs are adopted out to local shelters or vets.
She told me that the store’s main “distributor” is Preferred Canines, whom she claimed helped change state law in Ohio to make kennel conditions better for dogs. The owner of Preferred Canines is Abe Miller in Fresno, Ohio. Miller has a long history of selling sick puppies, violating the Animal Welfare Act, and being the subject of lawsuits. https://tinyurl.com/y5c26kqz Miller was not responsible for the new state law in Ohio that regulates dog breeding facilities.
The dogs he brokered included those with the campylobacter virus that made dogs and people ill in the outbreak at numerous Petland stores in 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/campylobacter/outbreaks/puppies-9-17/map.html
Every time, Miller is in trouble, he changes the name of his facility. When Sarasota County held a hearing for the ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in January 2016, he testified against the ordinance, using the kennel name of Quail Creek. Certificates of Veterinary Inspections (interstate health certificates) over the last few years showed him using the names, Comfort Canines and Holmes for Canines. Miller hired a bus to transport at least 30 of his Amish breeders to testify against the ordinance, which passed.
In addition, the manager told me that she’s a vet tech, and that she’ll fire people who abuse puppies or won’t take care of them. She invited to show me the “kennel” in the pet store, saying that bringing customers into the area was a normal occurrence, but it was only the back room behind where puppies were kept and revealed nothing that couldn’t be seen from the other side of the cages. No cages for sick puppies were evident, indicating they are kept somewhere else.
She pulled up USDA records for three puppies I asked for breeder info on, showing info for John D Erb, 4529 Ridge Rd SW, Baltic, OH 43804, 31-A-0493; Mary E Yoder, 5168 CR 19, Millersburg, OH 44654, 31-A-0611; Clara Raber 30340 TR 231, Fresno OH 43824, 31-A-0586.
Sarasota County pet shop ordinance
CAPS worked with Sarasota County for five years to get a retail ban ordinance passed. CAPS President Deborah Howard testified at the hearing in January 2016. After the law went into effect a year later, the Petland Sarasota continued to sell puppies and kittens and sued the county over the ordinance. Petland lost their lawsuit but continued to sell without the county fining them. CAPS had persuaded the Benderson Development Company in 2012 to not renew the leases of the Sarasota and Bradenton Petland stores. Petland Sarasota’s lease expired on July 1, 2019. The pet shop relocated just over the border into Manatee County, where CAPS has been trying to get an ordinance introduced since 2011. Manatee County now has Petland Sarasota and Petland Bradenton (their lease expires in 2020; they will relocate within the county unless we get an ordinance passed).
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store:
The property the manager showed me on Google Maps, at the SE corner of Ridge Rd SW and Oak Valley Rd in Baltic, OH, as being owned by John D Erb is owned by David J and Viola Miller. John D Erb’s property is south of Miller’s.
The following information was on USDA inspection reports given to me by a manager when I asked about the sources of puppies:
- John D Erb, 4529 Ridge Rd SW, Baltic, OH 43804, 31-A-0493
- Mary E Yoder, 5168 CR 19, Millersburg, OH 44654, 31-A-0611
- Clara Raber, 30340 TR 231, Fresno, OH 43824, 31-A-0586