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MEMPHIS, Tenn — A group of animal rights activists and animal lovers are planning to protest Saturday, trying to stop the opening of a Petland store at The Commons at Wolfcreek.

The group has already collected well over 10,000 signatures on a ‘Say No to Petland in Memphis’ petition now circulating online.

The woman behind that petition said Petland should not be able to set up shop in the Memphis  because the company has a history of obtaining animals from puppy mills and mistreats the puppies, kittens and other animals sold in their stores.

“You can research the Better Business Bureau for all the complaints,” said Linda Baxter. “You can see the customer and staff complaints of how animals are treated. They claim the source their animals through approved sanctioned controlled regulatory locations, but again history has shown that the health of those puppies an where they come from are in question.”

The Humane Society of United States says Petland is the only national pet store chain in this country that still sells puppies and said 99% of their puppies come from puppy mills. On a webpage dedicated to its investigation of Petland, The Humane Society also said it has received 1,400 complaints about Petland Puppies.

Petland, in a prepared statement, denied it buys from puppy mills:

“Petland’s number one priority has always been the health and welfare of its pets. Each Petland store has a state-licensed consulting veterinarian who examines every puppy upon its arrival and establishes a robust program of veterinary care for the store. Petland does not buy from puppy mills, which are unregulated, unlicensed facilities.”

But Baxter said the company’s track record shows otherwise. She said instead of bringing more puppies and kittens into to the community to sell they should be working with local shelters and rescue groups overburdened with strays.

“They believe it’s every owner’s right to choose where they get their animal. Ok, we have shelters, we have rescues, we have breed specific places where if you want a certain animal — a dog a cat. I guarantee you rescuers can help you find a reputable source,” said Baxter.

Memphis Animal Services said it learned earlier this week of plans for the opening of the Petland store in Memphis, which would sell puppies and kittens in the community. MAS said it had been working to introduce legislation banning the retail sale of pets in Memphis. The ordinance could go before city council later this month.

Petland said it did not have firm opening date yet at The Commons at WolfCreek. Petland has 96 stores in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Brazil, China, El Savador, South America and Saudi Arabia.

We tried to get a comment from The Commons at Wolfcreek, but have not heard back.

The protest is Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at 7930 North Germantown Parkway.