The Humane Society of the United States sent investigators undercover into two Petland stores, and what they found prompted a warning about the chain's practices. Investigators applied for and worked at stores in Kennesaw, Georgia and Las Vegas, Nevada and found disturbing animal treatment at both stores.

Petland has a long history of complaints. A number of consumers have sued them for selling sick puppies then being unwilling to cover vet bills. The Humane Society has more than 1,200 complaints from unhappy customers since 2006.

What Investigators Discovered

At both locations investigators found sick puppies suffering in isolation rooms. Employees removed sick animals that were coughing, lethargic or had drainage from customer view and placed them in out-of-the-way cages. Often, the pups weren't taken out for exercise. Instead, they stayed in crowded cages with other sick animals.

An extremely sick Maltese puppy was kept alone for a month in Las Vegas while employees waited for him to die. One investigator found a trash bag in the freezer with a dead puppy inside.

They found a bird with a broken wing and another with a head injury left in an aquarium in a back room. Investigators also observed a large breed puppy dropped from a high cage and screeching in pain.

They reported stores received truckloads of puppies every week from out-of-state suppliers. They linked one supplier to an outbreak of a drug-resistant disease that infected more than 100 people last year. Another store had puppies from a Missouri supplier where nine puppies died after being left on a hot truck.

Sometimes the in-store vet exam on intake was as short as 15 seconds. Then puppies went on sale. Puppies were often sick when they arrived, and if they started to show symptoms were isolated.

Warning to Consumers

The Humane Society advises consumers not to buy puppies from pet stores at all. A high percentage of dogs sold at chains come from puppy mills. Even if a breeder is government inspected, he or she can still legally keep large numbers of animals in cages for most of their lives. There's no guarantee animals will be healthy, and they could have a greater chance of psychological problems as adults.

Instead, the Humane Society recommends adopting from an animal shelter or rescue group. If you're buying from a breeder, only consider obtaining your pet from one who will let you see where the animal was born and raised.