MANHATAN – A new report by the Humane Society paints a disturbing picture of the horrors and mistreatment of puppies they say is happening behind closed doors at an Upper East Side pet store. The heartbreaking details come from an undercover investigation inside American Kennels on Lexington Avenue near East 62nd Street.
“The neglect, filth and lack of appropriate veterinary treatment that these frightened young puppies are forced to endure in this store is unacceptable,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
American Kennels calls itself an Upper East Side institution on its website, which since 1954 has provided customers with healthy and happy pets— however investigators say they found sick puppies hidden in a so-called ‘sick rooms’ and within the store’s cold basement.
The Humane Society says it documented puppies with hair loss and infections, some struggling to breathe— animals left alone for almost twenty-four hours on Thanksgiving and Black Friday– one puppy even found dead days later, they say.
The six-week undercover investigation, which ran rom October 2021 though early December, reveals some of the dogs were sick for weeks— suffering from lingering infections, pneumonia, abscesses, diarrhea and parasites— but were not given veterinary care aside from medications given to groups of animals, not prescribed per puppy.
If a puppy was too sick to eat on its own, the Humane Society says they were force-fed and injected with fluids at American Kennels. On top of that, they say larger dogs were crammed in small cages meant for toy-sized pups.
“Recognized as the undisputed Manhattan gold standard in the pet industry, we at American Kennels believe that we are only as strong as the health of our pets and the happiness of our clients, so we are devoted to the task of making sure that all of our puppies and kittens are under around-the-clock veterinary supervision and gladly provide the customer with the best guarantees in the business,” the pet shop’s website reads.
The Humane Society investigator says that’s not true— and when the store’s ‘sick room’ became full, puppies in need of veterinary care were moved to the storefront— where they were sold to unsuspecting customers, who later returned the puppies to American Kennels, which they say still did not provide veterinary care to the sick dogs.
“These animals cannot receive the proper care they require in a retail store that has 50 or 60 puppies at a time, leaves them alone for long periods of time, and does not take them for urgent care when they are critically ill, said John Goodwin, senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign at the Humane Society.
“How many times do we have to see puppies sick, suffering and dying in these shops?” he asked.
As if those details weren’t disturbing enough— the Humane Society also accuses American Kennels of peddling animals from puppy mills. The report says investigators were able to link American Kennels on the Upper East Side to documented puppy mills in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
“Bringing a pet home should not bring devastating heartaches and big, unexpected vet bills,” said Patrick Kwan, senior advisor on animal welfare to Mayor de Blasio’s office.
“The City of New York has no tolerance for puppy mills and will take action against pet stores for violations of our city’s laws to protect animals and consumers.”
The Humane Society turned over its investigation to the City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly Consumer affairs) which is now investigating the pet store.
“We have reviewed the Humane Society’s disturbing report, sent our own Inspectors to American Kennels and intend to enforce all applicable consumer protection laws,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Peter A. Hatch told Upper East Site.
“We encourage any customers who were deceived by American Kennels to file a complaint with us.”
In response to an inquiry from Upper East Site, American Kennels wrote in a statement:
Our team at American Kennel is made up of animal lovers who got into the business because we all deeply appreciate the joy that a pet can bring to life. We look after each and every animal as if it were our own, and in the rare case we receive an animal who has an illness, our team works together with our vet to manage their care and provide for their safety and comfort. Our store and all of our personnel remain dedicated to the safe sourcing, well-being and proper placement of our pets into loving and affectionate homes.
We are devastated by the loss of the sweet goldendoodle puppy, who many of us at the store came to love. Unfortunately, many of the details involved in the puppy’s case have been left out of the false narrative presented by the Humane Society – including that she was seen daily by our vet, and when she was deemed terminally ill and unfit for sale, how a long term employee at the store volunteered to care for her personally to make her last days as comfortable as possible. The Humane Society and its manipulative plant not only falsified the entire life and death of this poor animal, but now they are using her death to fundraise. They should be ashamed of themselves.