Fayette County

Amid criticism, Lexington pet store says it does not associate with puppy mills

People on social media have claimed these Boxers are being abused and neglected.
People on social media have claimed these Boxers are being abused and neglected. Peaceful Protest of Most Valuable Pets-Facebook page

A Lexington pet store has responded to online criticism about the well-being and health of some of its dogs for sale.

Most Valuable Pets, located in Beaumont Centre Parkway, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that boxers that appeared skinny in viral photos “are healthy, happy and continue to grow through the fluctuations that naturally occur through the puppy stages.”

Pictures and videos that have circulated online show a litter of puppies with ribs visible. “They do not look healthy,” said Lisa Schorr, whose picture has been shared more than 600 times on Facebook.

Another Facebook user, Chad Kaiser, said the store is charging $900 for each dog. “This is disgusting. If I could, I would buy all of them,” he said.

With the weight and conditions of the dogs questioned, Most Valuable Pets said on Facebook that while the dogs are on the low end of the healthy weight range, they are not out of the acceptable range for healthy animals.

“We had already taken steps to increase their daily caloric intake to put them more mid-level in that weight range for animals of their age,” Most Valuable Pets wrote on Facebook. “This was done before any photos of the litter were circulated.”

The pet store further said that animal control inspected them Monday, and the store was fully compliant with animal welfare standards.

Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control launched an investigation, and Chief Nathan Bowling told WKYT the store is following the guidelines of the law.

“We’ll just continue monitoring the situation and do follow-ups when needed,” Bowling told WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner.

But a group of people who are advocating for the welfare of pets have called for a peaceful protest of the store on Oct. 12. Protest leaders claim the majority of puppies sold to pet stores come from puppy mills and backyard breeders.

“Lexington needs an ordinance banning the sale of puppies from breeders in pet stores,” Michelle Athey Newtz wrote on Facebook. “This is what our protest will be about. No responsible breeder would ever sell to a middleman or pet store.”

The Humane Society of the United States said the suppliers of pet store puppies are largely puppy mills, which are classified as commercial facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale.

Most Valuable Pets stated on Facebook that “under no circumstances” does it collaborate or associate with puppy mills. It said it works with rescues, shelters and breeders. It also maintains close relationships with breeders to ensure animals it receives are healthy and well-tempered.

Many people, including plenty who bought their pets from MVP, are coming to the store’s defense.

“We encourage everyone to look at the facts before jumping to conclusions based on sensational photos taken at odd angles on social media,” Most Valuable Pets wrote. “We recognize the emotions that come with being passionate about animal welfare as every one of us shares those emotions. We will continue to strive to provide the best care to all of the animals in our responsibility.”