The Issue

For more than three decades, Lowcountry animal advocates have worked to build strong relationships with area pet stores to adopt out animals from local shelters and rescues in their stores. These efforts have paid off and thousands of homeless animals have been saved thanks to these community-minded stores who see the benefit in helping to adopt local, homeless animals.

Sadly, this lifesaving Lowcountry tradition is being threatened by Petland in Summerville. The new owner has made it public that starting Saturday, August 4th, Petland will be selling puppies purchased from large scale commercial breeding facilities in other parts of the country. These animals will not be spayed or neutered upon their sale to the public.

“The implications of this decision critically impact Dorchester County along with every shelter and rescue in the tri-county area. Our campus is at or above capacity all year long and with record-breaking admissions of over 50 animals in one day while working tirelessly to end unnecessary euthanasia – we are pleading with the store owner to drop these plans and urging the public to ADOPT, DON’T SHOP,” said President of Dorchester Paws Natalie Hutt. “Unaltered dogs can produce 2 litters of puppies per year with an average of 6-10 puppies. The math is simple, with the overcrowded shelters and limited amount of homes, this decision will revert the tri-county area backwards 30 years.” There are numerous pet stores in our community that only carry animals from local shelters and rescues.

After discussions with Petland’s owner about his decision to bring in animals from large-scale commercial breeding facilities, Dorchester Paws and other animal rescue organizations made the painstaking decision to drop their relationship with the store until this practice changes. “We cannot in good conscience move forward in a relationship with a business knowing that the animals they are bringing into our community will overwhelm an already taxed system.” said Hutt.

Media Coverage

Post and Courier
News 2
ABC News 4
Watch 8/2/18 Press Conference

Major Lowcountry Rescues Unite

11 area rescues and shelters have united to urge Petland to reconsider their decision to sell imported puppies from commercial breeders.

“We have all worked for decades to reduce the numbers of animals being euthanized across South Carolina due to not enough homes. Our understanding is that Petland is one of the nation’s leading retailers of puppies bred in commercial facilities and that currently there are no other Petland stores in our state,” said Pearl Sutton, President of the South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association. “Last year, over 30,000 animals were euthanized in South Carolina, mostly due to overpopulation. The last thing we need are commercially-bred imported puppies,” said Sutton.

Carol Linville, Founder and President of Pet Helpers, states, “At a time when the Tri-County area is flooded with homeless animals, it is going to be much more challenging to adopt homeless animals, when we will now be flooded with animals from outside our community too. And, selling unsterilized puppies will explode the population of unwanted animals. I fear this will erode the gains we’ve made in the last 30 years.”

Here are the shelters and rescues urging Petland to reconsider their new policy:

  • Charleston Animal Society
  • Dorchester Paws
  • Pet Helpers
  • Lowcountry Animal Rescue
  • Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary
  • No Kill South Carolina
  • Doc Williams SPCA
  • Humane Net
  • Sinbad Sadie
  • H.F. Help No Kill Rescue
  • South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this a big deal?
This is a huge threat because for three decades, our area pet stores have made it their practice to only adopt shelter animals — and now this lifesaving Lowcountry tradition is at risk. We have a major pet overpopulation issue. Dorchester Paws is so crowded this summer, they may soon have to announce plans to temporarily stop admissions. The same goes for Charleston Animal Society. This one store is going to import hundreds of animals each year from other parts of the country. And we know very little about the commercial breeders he will be using.

If I adopt from his store, aren’t I still saving an animal?
No, you are purchasing an animal from an unknown source and contributing to the problems surrounding the commercial breeding industry. The animals he is importing to our community are coming from commercial breeders that specialize in pure-bred animals. This is threatening our No Kill Community by bringing in animals when we are battling an overpopulation problem as it is.

What’s wrong with Commercial Breeders?
These facilities are difficult to track and investigations have shown that many pet stores who sell animals from commercial breeders are many times putting profits above the health and welfare of the animals sold. We need to focus on our homeless animal population, right here in the Lowcountry.

What if a person wants a pure-bred animal?
We urge people who want a pure-bred dog to use a local, responsible breeder, so that you can see the animals living quarters, and the way they are being raised and produced. Secondly, on average, 25% of animals that enter shelters across the country are pure-bred.

Doesn’t this business have the right to do this?
There is no law preventing him from selling animals from commercial breeders. We are simply pleading with him to do the right thing for the thousands of homeless animals in the Lowcountry. Every other Lowcountry pet store that we know showcases shelter animals in their stores.

If your shelter is at a crisis point, why did you pull out of Petland?
We may be short on space, but we are not short on morality. We cannot team up with a store that promotes commercial breeding when our own shelters are overflowing dogs, cats puppies and kittens that have nowhere to go.

If someone wants to do something what can they do?
A concerned person can do a few things: first, we urge people to ADOPT, not SHOP and that means supporting local pet stores that showcase shelter and rescue animals in their stores. Secondly, you can use local, responsible breeders where you can actually visit and see conditions. You can also contact Petland and urge the store to stop importing puppies and use homeless animals from local shelters and rescues. Finally, you can urge your lawmakers to look into this issue to see if there is a legislative solution that is needed. Visit and other local shelter websites for more information on this important issue.

What is the position of the ASPCA?
Because there are homeless pets awaiting adoption in almost every community in the nation, the ASPCA strongly advocates that persons wishing to acquire a pet consider adopting one from a shelter or other source of homeless animals. Those who are committed to acquiring a specific breed of animal should locate a breed rescue group or a responsible breeder. The ASPCA does not support purchasing or otherwise acquiring animals from large-scale commercial breeders, the retail outlets they supply or casual “backyard” breeders. While we support the use of the Internet to locate adoptable animals and responsible breeders, the ASPCA does not support purchasing or otherwise acquiring animals via the Internet without first meeting the animal and seeing the conditions in which the animal is kept.