Puppy businesses such as Puppy Barn and Puppies For Rent have jumped to popularity in recent years, especially among college students, but many once-loyal buyers are trading their rave reviews for puppy petitions.
A Facebook page called Puppy Barn Victims, which has more than 700 followers, says it was created “due to a recent Parvo outbreak and other alarming customer complaints and concerns” to warn consumers what might happen if they buy a puppy from Puppy Barn in American Fork.
This group has staged multiple protests against the company, including a demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 29 outside the Puppy Barn retail store. About 70 people were planning on attending, according to the Facebook event.
In addition, an online petition has been circulating in an effort to shut down the Puppy Barn and pass legislation banning the sale of puppies for business profit in American Fork.
“Puppy Barn is continuously negligent and refuses to answer to the public’s concern about the well-being of the puppies in their care,” states the petition, which currently has nearly 7,000 supporters.
These activists want to free the animals from what they believe to be unhealthy living conditions. They make serious complaints against the Puppy Barn, claiming that many of the puppies have contracted the deadly Parvovirus, the puppies are too young to leave their mothers, the business sells puppies to minors and the puppies come from sketchy breeders and without proper paperwork.
The Universe contacted Puppy Barn for a comment, but the company has not yet responded.
McKay Paxman, a junior studying family life, said she has used these puppy businesses three or four times. She said that the concept of finding homes for these dogs is great, but she recognized that it’s “not easy for the dogs to be bounced around from person to person … especially in their early developmental years.”
Although Puppy Barn is not unfamiliar with attacks, Puppies For Rent, which delivers puppies directly to consumers to be rented and played with on an hourly basis, does not have any formal complaints or petitions.
Paxman said she hasn’t heard any specifics on the mistreatment of puppies from these companies, but she personally would not adopt from Puppies For Rent or Puppy Barn because she would rather adopt from an animal shelter.
From a charitable standpoint, these businesses often boast that their main cause is to find homes for the dogs.
Puppy Barn, located at 364 E. State Road in American Fork, started two years ago with the aim to be “an honorable and safe means by which families can meet and select the right pet…”
In an Instagram picture in early August, it outlined six key “aims” of the company. The post also responded to a myriad of complaints and rumors regarding their business.
Puppy Barn wrote, “Certain individuals and people groups who we will not elevate with the honor naming, have attempted to undermine what we are accomplishing by means of misinformation, trumped-up stories, tabloid-like smear campaigns, threats and outright lies.”
The post then continues to list specific health qualifications and business procedures: “Puppy Barn management meets and interviews each breeder, litters are tested for viral contamination and a free wellness exam is provided for all adopted puppies.”
Many comments on this post praise the Puppy Barn and its transparency. Others comment with successful personal stories. One user wrote, “We have now bought four amazing dogs from the puppy barn and wouldn’t change them for anything! Our dogs are growing up healthy and strong!” (@ayleym)
It may seem curious that zero negative comments appear on the Instagram post, leading some to wonder if Puppy Barn’s social media strategy involves deleting unpopular comments or negative feedback.
“Puppy Barn just blocked me and deleted my comment. I asked a simple question,” posted Megan Langevin on the Puppy Barn Victims page.
Other online review sites reveal this less-publicized side of the story. Thirty-two Yelp reviews give Puppy Barn an average of 1.5 out of 5 stars, with 26 one-star reviews. Google’s reviews are similar. Most of these reviews say similar things: the dogs are not purebred, the owners are “horrible” and a Parvo outbreak leaves vomiting dogs helpless.
More reviews weigh in favor of shutting Puppy Barn down. Dozens of cases have surfaced this year, describing sick puppies contracting illness, throwing up and even dying days after being bought. After online research, it appears that for every good review of this business, there are three or four negative—even scathing—reviews.
Many owners will re-sell their puppies on KSL and other websites, describing the poor conditions they came across while at Puppy Barn. One user tried to sell a six-week-old puppy that she got from Puppy Barn on KSL.
“This means the puppy was, at most, only five weeks old when Puppy Barn purchased it. Anyone with a basic understanding of puppies knows they should never be removed from Mom before eight weeks of age,” a Puppy Barn Victim wrote.
Different messages are streaming from both sides of the argument, but it’s clear that some people are more than upset with this business. Others may scroll past a puppy picture, call it “cute,” and move on, but activists say there’s more behind the screen to take into consideration.