4512 S Broadway Ave a1
Tyler, TX 75703
Dates and times of CAPS investigation: 4/19/23, 1158
Approximate number of dogs and puppies observed at time of investigation:
One dog and about 60 puppies were observed.
Puppies were in aquarium-like enclosures in a wall on one side of the store. There were about 30 enclosures total, with one row stacked above the other. Each enclosure had a treated wire flooring, water bottle, toys, and a clear wall on one side for customers to see inside. Some had a blanket partially covering the flooring, while others did not. There were one to four puppies per enclosure, of various breeds, though one enclosure contained a five-year-old female French Bulldog.
The Bulldog sat on her hindquarters with her rear legs in front of her on her wire flooring and next to an unused blanket. She faced away from customers and shivered perpetually. When I approached her enclosure and put a hand up to the clear wall, she briefly looked in my direction before looking away and would not look back towards me like the puppies did when customers approached them.
I briefly spoke to a worker (Caucasian male, about 55 years old, 5’8″, 230 lbs.., with a bald head, long grey beard and moustache, and glasses) about puppies, and he told me, “All of the dogs here come from the top two percent USDA breeders from the United States.” He also said, “Over a quarter million dollars in background genetic research has been done on each one of the dogs here.”
Store manager’s lie about financing:
I also spoke to a man named Matt (Caucasian male, about 40 years old, 6’6″, 200 lbs.., with short black hair), who identified himself as the store manager, about puppies. I asked him about financing for puppies, and he told me that there are various options for having no-interest payments over months, and that APR can go up to 39% if there’s a “challenge” to my credit. He told me, “Remember, it’s unsecured lending. There’s no recourse for these guys. They can’t repossess your car. It’s not like a car or a bicycle.” As noted below is this report, this is a misleading lie.
Lies about breeders and AKC:
I also asked store manager Matt about where puppies come from. I told him I wanted to make sure they didn’t come from puppy mills, and he told me “So we only contract and use the top two percent USDA approved and inspected breeders in the entire country. There are two thousand licensed breeders.” I responded, “I don’t know what that means.” He explained, “There are two thousand USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture breeders that are licensed to actually breed in the United States of America. We have a stacked rank of the top forty that we use, from one through forty. If they’ve ever had a violation or anything like that, we sever contract with them. That’s never happened. These guys, you’ll see on the screen, they grow up on these beautiful, huge, sprawling ranches. Their rooms are bigger than this. They got heated floors. They got their own door outside. They’re socialized every single day from their birth until they get here with other dogs, kids, people. So, even with like new babies, you get into a room with them, they’re coming right up to you. They’re ready to play. They’re happy. They’re not cowering in the corner of the room, barking. So, with that temperament development in the first eight weeks is extremely important.” He then motioned to the adult French Bulldog and said, “And obviously she’s been well-developed, because she’s not eight weeks.”
I asked if breeders keep dogs in cages or have “like a hundred dogs,” and he answered, “No.” He told me the breeders are “all in the north,” including states like Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. He then explained how many puppies at the store come from AKC champions. I asked if AKC makes sure kennels aren’t puppy mills, and he answered, “AKC is, it’s like the Tiffany’s of jewelry. It is the Tiffany’s of dog registration.”
As the manager explained how he claimed dogs lived, he motioned to a Petland video playing on a TV screen that showed dogs and puppies running and playing in grassy fields.
The manager also claimed that the store finds homes for all of its breeders’ retired dogs. He said, “We always find them a home. Every single one.”
I asked the manager about the five-year-old French Bulldog, who he said was a retired breeding female from one of the store’s breeders. He said, “She’s potty-trained, all that stuff.” He said she was potty-trained because “she’d been used to going outside a lot.” I asked to see her, and despite everything he had just told me about how breeders socialize their dogs, he said, “She might be a little hesitant at first. Just remember, she’s been used to an environment for multiple years. She’s probably going to be like, what’s going on? She’s kind of just observing right now. She’s not going to have that young, crazy puppy energy, bouncing around.” I then asked, “Okay, but she’s socialized?” He said, “Yeah.”
He then opened her cage door and crouched down in front of her. She sat motionless, neither going towards him or moving away from him. He waited a few seconds and put a hand out to her but she didn’t move. When he pet her, she remained motionless, and after about 30 seconds of interacting with her, he picked her up. She was completely stiff as she was lifted. He brought her to me in a playroom and said that she was scared. She was then set on the floor with a couple of toys. She sniffed the toys briefly and then turned her head away from me, standing motionless. When I petted her, she did not react in any way. I put my hand in front of her and touched her nose, but she didn’t sniff it or follow my hand when I moved it away. I moved to different positions around her to pet her, but she didn’t adjust to face me as I did so and instead stayed in place.
The manager then showed me paperwork on the dog when I requested it. It revealed she was AKC registered, and bred by Monroe Herschberger in Bloomfield, IA, USDA license 42-A-1647. I asked if she already had a name, and the manager said, “Nothing that she’s been socialized by.” He then said that she was given a name at the store, put in the system as “Nibbler.”
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations by store:
Regarding financing for puppies, the manager told me, “Remember, it’s unsecured lending. There’s no recourse for these guys. They can’t repossess your car. It’s not like a car or a bicycle.” While the loans Petland provides are unsecured loans in which collateral, such as cars and bicycles, are not put up, unsecured loans do have recourse. The lender can send the debt to a collection agency or sue the borrower. The manager’s statement is simply a lie.
The manager and employee’s statement about how the store buys from the “top two percent of USDA breeders” is misleading. The manager explained it comes from a list that store owner Luis Marquez arbitrarily creates. The USDA has no ranking standard of their breeders, and so Marquez claims that commercial breeders he personally ranks and can purchase puppies from are the “top two percent of USDA breeders.”
The manager’s statement about dogs and puppies being socialized is a lie. Judging by the scared and unsocialized French Bulldog I saw at the store; Marquez’s breeders are not playing with dogs in grassy yards all day like the Petland videos indicate. Breeders generally never let puppies go outside into play areas, as they are most often kept with their mothers for five to six weeks in whelping pens until they are separated into their own cages and then shipped to pet stores. Furthermore, USDA breeders, including Marquez’s breeders, have dozens or hundreds of dogs, meaning that have numerous puppies at any given time. Virtually all USDA breeders are family-owned and operated, with many breeders having additional farming businesses. They do not socialize every puppy every day as the manager claims.
The employee’s claim that the store spends a quarter million dollars on each dog’s genetic testing is a lie.
The manager’s claim that the store finds a home for every retired breeding dog is a lie. Despite having about sixty puppies in the store, only one breeding dog was there. I have been to all 12 Petland franchises and one non-Petland that Luis Marquez owns, and the French Bulldog at the Tyler store is the only one I’ve ever seen at one of his stores.
Breeder information obtained while visiting the store:
Monroe Herschberger, 10633 250th St, Bloomfield, IA 52537, (641) 929-3103, 42-A-1647 (13 adults, 9 puppies on USDA 08-23-21 inspection).
Breeder information obtained from 2022 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection Reports:
Steven & Velma Kurtz, 20709 300th Street, Jamesport, MO 64648, 43-A-6432 (53 adults, 49 puppies) (Kurtz Velma: USDA inspection 03-29-22)
Benjamin Miller, 26040 Rocky, Greentop, MO 63546, no USDA license.
Jay Mullett/Prairie View Kennels, 12025 CR8110, West Plains, MO 65775, 43-A-6410 (97 adults, 46 puppies) (Mullet Jay: Missouri inspection report 11-04-22)
On November 2022 state inspection, he had a violation for dogs jumping from pen to pen. Dogs must be contained securely.
Ben Schwartz, 14500 Crow Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6761 (113 adults, 60 puppies) (Schwartz Ben: Missouri inspection report 07-18-22)
Jake Schwartz, 18949 Kofahl Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6599 (61 adults, 30 puppies). (Schwartz Jake: USDA inspection 03-07-23)
Simon Schwartz, 17420 Boone Creek Road, Licking, MO 65542, 43-A-6598 (44 adults, 13 puppies) (Schwartz Simon: Missouri inspection 03-30-23).
March 2023 state inspection revealed examinations not up to date.
Melvin Yoder/Pondview Kennel, 27367 Anchor Way, Greentop, MO 63546, 43-A-6063 (26 adults, 28 puppies). (Yoder Melvin: Missouri inspection 08-11-22)
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.”
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.
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.