The Family Puppy at Oakland Mall
528 W 14 Mile Rd
Troy, MI 48083
(248) 880-4997

Date and time of CAPS investigation: 3/20/23, 12:17

Approximate number of puppies observed at time of investigation: 60 puppies

There were about 45 puppy enclosures at the store. Most were aquarium-like enclosures set up in banks against two walls. They were about two feet deep, between two to three feet wide, and between one to three feet tall. Larger puppies were kept in the larger enclosures, and each enclosure held one to two puppies though some were unoccupied. They all had solid floorings covered in shredded paper and water bottles on their back walls. A particularly large puppy was in a pen with a short fence-like wall around it in the middle of the store.

Puppy propaganda

Several TVs were against a wall, showing breeders’ kennels. Dog pens were visible in some of the background shots, but the focus was on dogs and puppies running in massive, lush grassy yards. One screen had “60’ GRASSED YARDS TO PLAY” set over the video, another had “FUN IN THE SUN,” and a third said, “Plenty of grass.”

Two large signs were above one wall of puppy cages. One read, “Your Adoption Center. We’ve adopted more than 11,000 spayed/neutered kittens and puppies to minimize shelter’s burden.” The other read, “Your Breeder Resource. We have 35 years of helping families just like yours find the puppy of their dreams.”

I spoke to an employee about the puppies, and she told me that the store reduces prices as the puppies get older. A small Sheltie puppy, who appeared to be about eight weeks old, cost $2,800, and a large Corgi puppy, whom the employee said was 16 or 17 weeks old, was $1,000.

Employee gave total misinformation on breeding dogs

I told her that I wanted to make sure the puppies aren’t from puppy mills, and she, “Oh, yeah. No, that’s why he has; the other breeders are all on the TV.” I asked for specifics about the breeders, and asked if they are licensed. She responded, “Yes. So, they’re certified breeders. So, licensed breeders. They get checked by the state, I believe, every month or two months. We get them from the state of Michigan and the state of Indiana.” I asked if the store makes sure breeders have no violations, and she said, “Make sure there’s no neglect or anything going on.”

I asked how long dogs are bred for and what happens to them when they are no longer breeding. She said, “I know for a fact, they wait until the dogs, or mom and dad should be over, I think, three or four years old. So, I know they wait that long to start breeding. Because anything younger is too early for dogs to start breeding. After that, I know that they don’t like to use the same female to carry dogs because it can make the female sick. I know that much. But other than that, I don’t know much about that.” The worker reiterated her claim that dogs run in grassy yards like on the TV, saying, “Yeah, they’re let out every day with breeders.”

I asked for breeder information on a Sheltie puppy and a Corgi puppy. The worker made a point of saying the puppies were AKC registered. I asked that meant, and she answered, “AKC is just American Kennel Company.” The paperwork revealed that the Sheltie was bred by Wayne Fry, and the Corgi by Christie Otto. However, no towns, states, or license information was available for either of the breeders in the store’s paperwork. I asked the worker if she knew where the breeders were, and she said, “No. I just know some of them are from Michigan and some are from Indiana. I don’t know, specifically, which breeders are where.”

“Oh, dogs. And just buy it.”

I asked the employee if people normally ask about puppy mills or not, and she said, “Some people, they’re more like, want to make sure their money is safe, and want to make sure their dog is healthy. They ask a lot of questions. Some people just go, Oh, dogs. And just buy it. So it depends on you personally.”

Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store

The store’s depiction of dogs and puppies in grassy yards is a total misrepresentation of breeding kennels. Puppies at breeding facilities are not fully vaccinated and have suppressed immune systems. Most vetserinarians recommend that young puppies not be allowed on park grass or sidewalks for fear of viruses that can kill them. Having documented hundreds of puppy mills, worked undercover at a USDA-licensed puppy mill, and worked undercover at one of the largest USDA-licensed puppy brokers in the country, I have learned that breeders will have puppies with their mother until they are five or six weeks of age, after which they are separated and put into separate cages before being shipped to brokers or stores at eight weeks of age. Additionally, facilities with play yards for dogs do not give the dogs open access to them, and the yards are often made of dirt or crushed rock. Grassy yards with dogs that are frequently in them have dirt paths worn on their edges, and the stores’ videos of open, lush grass does not depict areas that dogs frequent.

The employee’s claim that states inspect breeders every one or two months is false. Federal and state inspections are done yearly except for special circumstances. No state does monthly inspections of licensed breeders. Only certain states have licensing and inspection programs.

The employee’s claim that dogs are not bred until they are three or four years old is false. All commercial breeders’ breed dogs are bred when they begin going into heat (within six to 12 months of age), and then breed them every time they go into heat after that, generally until five or six years of age.

The Family Puppy’s main supplier used to be Pick of the Litter, owned by Kathy Bauck

At one time, The Family Puppy had five locations in Michigan and sourced the majority of its puppies from Minnesota-based Pick of the Litter, owned by notorious broker and breeder Kathy Bauck. The Family Puppy was Pick of the Litter’s largest account. Due to evidence I obtained during a six-week undercover employement investigation in 2008, Bauck was convicted of animal cruelty in 2009 and lost her USDA license. During my investigation, Bauck had around 900 adult dogs and 400 puppies. CAPS President Deborah Howard investigated the Oakland Mall store a few months before I started my investigation of Pick of the Litter.

Breeder information obtained during store investigation

Wayne Fry

Christie Otto

Breeder information obtained from Certificates of Veterinary Inspection

The Michigan Department of Agriculture was unable to provide Certificates of Veterinary Inspection for out-of-state breeders selling to this store.

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