Animal Advocates Say They Plan To Continue Protests Outside National Franchise

Saturday, October 31st 2020, 9:57 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers

TULSA, Okla. -

Animal welfare activists said they'll be back on Sunday after spending hours protesting a nationwide animal franchise.

Tulsa's Petland opened Saturday after months of push back from local shelters. Local animal advocacy groups claim Petland buys puppies from backyard breeders and that the animals don't receive proper veterinarian care.

Protest organizer Erin Shackelford with the Oklahoma Alliance For Animals said Petland is an uninhabitable, puppy mill profiteer. 

"There are not just one to two reports of bad behavior,” Shackelford said. “There's dozens and dozens." 

The owner of Petland Tulsa said this is just an ill-informed opinion, saying that people just need to be educated.

"The truth is we take great care of our animals,” Petland Tulsa owner Carl Swanson said. “We are in compliance. We are legal, and we're experienced.”

Swanson said Petland's puppies come from USDA-licensed breeders and distributors, hobby breeders defined by the Animal Welfare Act and vet-checked adoption pets. 

"If they have any critical or direct, non-compliant issues found, we won't do business with them,” Swanson said. 

Swanson said they have a vet who visits for weekly consultations. Store employees regulate sanitation, hygiene, exercise and food intake.

Protestors said they disagree with buying cheap, commercially-bred animals while thousands of shelters animals are euthanized in Oklahoma every year. 

"To think that a store is going to open up that's going to sell these dogs for profit and just help that practice continue, it just, I mean, it's just awful to think about,” said Mindy Tiner with the Tulsa SPCA.  

Tulsa police said the owner of the building asked protestors to not flood the private parking lot of the strip center. Instead, the group lined the sidewalk in front of the store to peacefully protest. 

"They're very passionate about their cause,” Swanson said. “I absolutely feel for them and agree that these dogs need homes." 

Swanson said he’d let shelters use his space for adoption events and advertising, but Shackelford said that's not enough. 

"It's not just adding a rescue group to the store,” Shackelford said. “It's not selling commercially bred cats and dogs at all." 

Swanson said the fundamental difference between protesters and Petland is that Petland believes Oklahomans deserve a choice.