When Jennifer Miller received an email from PetSmart regarding an event called puppy’s first playdate, an in-store social for puppies, she was excited to take her four-month-old pup, Dale, to socialize him.
But when she arrived at the PetSmart off Virginia Beach Blvd. and Rosemont Road in Virginia Beach, she ran into an unexpected roadblock.
“Dale saw all those friends to play with and started wiggling his butt a mile a minute,” Miller wrote.
But Dale did not get to play with the other puppies or enter the event at all.
A PetSmart employee who was about to register Dave told Miller that she was unsure if he could attend because he looks like a Pit Bull. After speaking with the manager, she came back to tell Miller “I’m sorry he can’t stay, he’s definitely a Pit Bull.”
Miller was devastated that her puppy would not be able to play with the other pups there.
“Dale was just looking into the play room with all those puppies that were staring back at him waiting for him to come play,” Miller wrote. “My heart shattered into a million pieces as I had to turn around and walk out.”
Miller was also furious that he was denied just because of his breed.
“These dogs are not dangerous. They’re not aggressive. It’s all about how you raise them,” Miller told 10 On Your Side. “I just don’t know what could’ve happened that was so bad that they could just turn away a whole entire breed of dog.”
According to PetSmart’s corporate policy, Pit Bulls and other bully breeds are welcome in their stores, grooming salons, training areas and PetsHotels, but are banned from off-leash, group play activities within their Doggie Day Camp “for the safety of their associates and other pets.”
“We cannot accept dogs of the ‘bully breed’ classification or wolves/wolf hybrids including American Pit Bull Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers or mixed breeds that have the appearance or characteristics of one of these breeds,” PetSmart wrote on their website.
“This policy reflects careful consultation with our veterinarian staff and safety experts as well as our deep knowledge and experience interacting with these pets in a wide variety of settings. It also reflects our desire to provide a fun, safe experience for our pets, customers and associates,” a PetSmart representative told 10 On Your Side.
But while PetSmart denies Pit Bulls and bully breeds from their group activities, Petco says they do not discriminate and accept every breed of dog.
Jasmine Marzini contacted PetSmart, asking if Pit Bull breeds were allowed, and received the same response Miller did.
Then she contacted Petco, asking them the same thing, in which they replied: “We welcome all breeds inside our stores and events. This includes Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, Chows, Great Danes, Presa Canarios, Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds, Huskies, mutts of all types, and the list goes on.”