Pet Store Employee Quits After Puppy Dies In Her Arms, Speaks Out About Puppy Mills

Sarasota County is one step closer to banning puppy mills, thanks to one brave activist speaking out about the horrific conditions dogs live in before being brought to pet stores.



Did you know? It’s estimated that 99% of young dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. As TrueActivist has noted before, mills of this kind should be shunned and closed for a number of reasons. Not only are the conditions dogs are forced to live in inhumane, there are already plenty of animals in humane shelters needing loving homes. 

Most activists are already aware of this, but a large majority of the public is not. This is why, then, everyone was shocked when an employee spoke out about the horrific conditions she witnessed ‘behind the scenes’ when working at a Florida pet store.

As The Dodo reports, Rylee Barr, a former employee at a Petland in Sarasota, Florida, worked at the store for about a year before she became a kennel staff member. Once promoted, she began witnessing what was really going on behind the scenes at her workplace.

“Five or six dogs would be in one crate and they would all have a form of kennel cough,” she told the Herald Tribune. Recounting the store’s new puppy deliveries, she said: “Honestly, there were no healthy dogs… Just dogs that were less sick than the other ones.” 

It’s not uncommon for dogs sold in pet stores (of which the majority come from puppy mills) to be incubating some kind of illness at the time of purchase. According to a California study, 48% of puppies sold in pet stores are quite unhealthy at the time they are taken home.

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Barr told Sarasota’s ABC7 news that she witnessed ill dogs ignored in crates in the back of the store – left to suffer instead of receiving the medical attention they needed.

“There was a puppy that was dying because she had not been eating, and I had told them on multiple occasions she had arrived there and wasn’t eating. I said ‘someone needs to take her to the vet,” she said.

When one of the puppies died in her arms, Barr decided she had seen and contributed to enough. She finally quit. 

Shortly after, she felt compelled to speak up for the puppies. She told local outlet Fox13 news: “Someone has to give them a voice because otherwise they will be stuck behind that window.” 

Of course, her former employers at Petland deny her account of what was going on at the pet store. One told Fox13 news that the pet store was “like daycare,” saying “they are going to get a cold, but we don’t have dead, dying dogs here.” 

Impressively, Barr was – and is – not alone in her ambition to be an activist for the puppies. Many other local critics of puppy sales in pet shops gathered for a Sarasota County board meeting to decide whether or not the county would join others across the country and ban puppy mills.

One woman spoke out during the meeting and testified that one of the puppies she bought from a pet store had devastating health problems. Sadly, her account is not uncommon; many pet store puppies suffer from contagious diseases, such as parvovirus, distemper and kennel cough.

Thankfully, action is being taken to help eliminate this problem and shut down puppy mills around the nation. Earlier in August, Phoenix, Arizona became one of the latest U.S. cities to require that pet stores sell only rescued dogs and cats. This news was happily received by many.

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Now, advocates in Sarasota County hope their hometown will follow suit. The meeting described above was just a preliminary one, but activists are not done speaking out on this topic and persevering to improve the lives of puppies and dogs used for breeding in mills.

The board in Sarasota voted 4-1 to hold a public hearing about a puppy mill ban, which is scheduled for January.

Thanks to activists like Rylee Barr who was brave enough to quit her job and speak out about the issue, dogs in puppy mills in Florida are one step closer to being rescued.

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