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Lowcountry animal groups angry Summerville pet store selling commercially bred puppies

(WCIV)

New ownership means new renovations for Petland in Summerville. The store is also changing its adoption policy and it's not sitting well with local animal groups.

The Summerville Petland is the only Petland store in South Carolina. For the first time in 30 years, they'll be selling commercially bred dogs. On Thursday, some 40 puppies were delivered to the store. It's why longtime partner Dorchester Paws is severing ties with the store.

"The threat of having more animals, puppies, purebreds, what have you, come into our community is astonishing to us," said executive director Kim Almstedt. "We are pleading with Petland to not bring in these puppies from commercially bred facilities."

Several other tri-county animal groups including Charleston Animal Society, Doc Williams SPCA and Pet Helpers joined Dorchester Paws for the public announcement Thursday. All of them, said they're overflowing with animals. They worry Petland's new policy will undo decades of work to lower the state's euthanasia rate, the mission of "No Kill South Carolina."

"To have animals being sold from a commercially bred industry and then not being spayed or neutered when we have shelters overwhelmed with animals just like this is not a humane practice," Almstedt said. "This is our final plea with Petland, please do not do this."

Almstedt said purebred dogs make up about 25% of a shelter's population and cost a fraction of what breeder's charge.

Dogs sold at Petland typically cost anywhere between $2,500 to $4,500. Despite the backlash, Petland is hosting a soft opening on Saturday to showcase the new array of puppies for sale.

Lauren Petz, the store's spokesperson, said Petland only works with professional breeders who follow USDA standards and beyond. She said they were shocked when Dorchester Paws ended their 10-year relationship.

"Our dedication here is to match the right pet with the right owner and meet the needs of both," said Petz. "We have an open-door policy. We want to work with rescues, we want to work with shelters and given the outreach that we have, we are more than happy to feature their puppies on our websites and help place their puppies and adult dogs in homes as quickly as possible."

She said Petland encourages customers to spay and neuter their pets, but usually puppies aren't sterilized until they're between four and six-months old. By that time, Petz said the puppies have already been adopted out.

Animal shelters like Charleston Animal Society safely spay and neuter puppies as young as eight weeks old.

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