Petland Adopts? Franchisees Show How to Lead from the Bottom Up

Petland adopts

image by Fran Simo via Flickr

Petland adopts out shelter and rescue dogs and cats, not due to a new policy announcement from HQ, but because of leadership coming from individual franchisees.  Many animal advocates think of Petland as one entity ruled from the top.  It is easier to point a finger at one place than to realize how tough it will be to reach out to approximately 150 small businesses.  Yet there is a point to…ah, pointing.  With Petland Canada in the news announcing a phasing out of selling pets, pet lovers have wondered at the silence from Petland USA. In that silence we looked around to find that some individual franchisees have taken the lead in changing their business model.

Change, significant, sustainable change, is never as easy as we picture it in our minds. To ask a collective of businesses to change the way they have done business and expect they will do that in the way you want them to, all at once and right now, or in three months, will not lead to success. We animal lovers of every stripe have to guard against making the perfect the enemy of the good.  As much criticism as can be fairly leveled at Petland HQ,  the shelter and rescue community is not without its own failings.  What follows is an example of failure on the part of those who are in charge of animals’ lives, and failure to assist a member of their own community.

Petland Adopts, Will Shelters Cooperate?

What would you think if your local shelter were asked by a local Petland store to partner with them, taking a donation in exchange for the adoptables who were on death row, or unwanted litters that may prove too expensive or too much of a strain on employee time for shelters to support, and they refused?  And compound that wasted opportunity, and wasted lives, by continuing to refuse even after almost a  year of successful adoptions and a growing demand from Petland customers for shelter and rescue pets. That is not the whole story, and  I will leave the rest to the podcast.

We can’t do much if we don’t talk to those who may not hold the same opinions.

It’s a busy month for animal advocates: Puppy mills have been targeted by the ASPCA, and in the blogosphere, and HSUS is making a plea for legislation to close loopholes for internet pet sales on the White House website. There’s a petition to sign asking Petland USA to fire puppy mills and change their policy (because leadership matters).

In our defense of the animals we love, we don’t want to make the mistake of letting opportunity slip by with deadly consequences for those we  have sworn to protect.  No two Petlands are alike.  Get to know your local store owners, you might be pleasantly surprised, or not. There’s probably another one not too far away. Talking can help ignite the change we all hope for, or you might even be part of a Petland adopts story as it’s happening.  Do you have a Petland with a good adoption program in your area? If you want to start one, listen to the podcast to find out how to get help.


Rumpy Drummond
Rumpy Drummond

I am so happy to hear another blogger laying it on the line here. We have GOT to stop shooting ourselves in the foot here and be happy with our baby steps. They may not be much but I'll take baby steps over NO steps any day!


I think you already know how I feel about Petlands that sell puppy mill puppies, but I had not really understood how many of their stores were owned by franchisees until someone wrote a comment on Blog the Change for Animals and explained that it was only the corporate Petland of Canada that was changing it's policy and that the franchisees can continue to operate as they want.
How interesting then that in the United States some franchisees are choosing a different route (maybe they're forward thinking and can see which way the wind is blowing?) and it's the corporate side that is sticking with the old approach.
Personally, as a former business owner and the mom of a former puppy mill breeding dog, I would prefer to support a store that chooses to go the adoption/rescue route than the puppy mill one. I'm all for supporting this kind of change.

Regarding the rescues and shelters who refuse to work with these Petland stores, all I can say is how sad that a shelter who would prefer to put an animal to sleep than have it adopted at a Petland store that has changed it's business approach and has chosen to offer pets for adoption. I'd love to know the reason for not wanting to give every animal an opportunity for a new home. The same goes for rescues. For every dog of cat that doesn't find a home, there is one less foster home available for the next animal. What gives?

Vicki Cook
Vicki Cook

Mary - thank you so much for sharing. I live in the Pittsburgh area, and the Petland stores in both Pittsburgh Mills and Monroeville are only about 20 minutes from my house! I am so excited about this idea, and I am going to contact Pamela at Pet Match to see if I can help!


  1. […] You can get the contact information for her and for Alan Caplan, who is helping other Petland stores create similar programs, by listening to the Animal Cafe interview. […]

  2. […] Mary Haight, animal advocate and one of my Animal Cafe co-hosts, talks with the owner of one of three Petland franchises located in Pennsylvania who features adoptable pets at his Petland store. Following that interview, Mary also speaks with the co-founder of Pet Match, a rescue organization that helps locate and transport adoptable pets to these Petland stores. Hear both interviews at Petland Adopts? Franchisees Show How to Lead from the Bottom Up. […]

  3. […] is the discussion that is going on over at Animal Cafe and Dancing Dog Blog and Will My Dog Hate […]