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Standing Up to Southpark Mall's Puppy Mill Brokers

Puppy with severe hydrocephalus being sold at Pick of the Litter

I'm a dog trainer. By extension, I'm a dog lover, and am more than willing to support the efforts of our local shelters and rescues.

On Friday, April 21, I made a puppy mill rescue run with a woman I love and respect: Lauren Jacenty. We loaded up a cargo van full of 30 dogs ranging from a very sick six week old doodle (who was blind and deaf) to older Cavaliers who had been stuck in cages doing nothing but breeding for the past 5 years. We spent roughly 7 hours driving, picking up dogs, getting them vetted, and driving them to the first stop on their journey, where wonderful humans would be continuing the mission to get them to their foster homes. These dogs were discarded like trash by these "breeders".

We were able to rescue 30 of the 27 dogs on our list from the "breeders". (You read that correctly; the puppy mills literally snuck some extras in) thanks to the efforts of:

Seriously, look them up. They are amazing, so make a donation to them on their sites.

These are the same places that Pick of the Litter and Petland get their puppies from. All of them sick. All of them underage. All of them bred from parents who have never seen the outside of a cage before their liberation day on Friday. Some of them stuck there for the better part of a decade.

So how can we stop this cruelty and abuse? I don't know. But I'm going to keep trying everything I can do until they are stopped. I'm not going to throw my hands in the air and hope Someone Else can fix this. Someone Else isn't coming, so it's up to us.

I implore you to join us at our protest on Saturday, April 29 at Southpark Mall to bring attention to these atrocities that are being committed. Animal abuse will not be tolerated. We see what they are doing to these dogs, and we are here to stop it.

It's been a while since we've last visited Southpark Mall and their famous puppy mills. Covid hit, and things were down for a while. I originally wrote this article in 2019, right after our last puppy mill protest (and right before Covid). Unfortunately nothing has changed. Oh, except that the Pick of the Litter *accidentally* caught fire. It's time to stand together to end the cruelty.


The article below was originally published in Sept. 2019.

We all know cash is king, and easy money is the best money. Let’s face it, corporations’ sole reason for existing is to make more money. But at what cost? When does the search for more money become inexcusable due to the swath of destruction of innocents that lay in its wake? In other words, is the enrichment of corporations and businesses acceptable if the cost is the health and safety of innocent animals?

Over the past three years, Darwin Dogs has been picketing Southpark Mall over their support of puppy mills by allowing Pick of the Litter and Petland continue their practices in the mall. Council meetings have been attended by those horrified by what goes on in the mall. So what information has come to light recently? And more importantly, why is Southpark Mall’s management ignoring this information, even at the cost of risking their shopper’s health and safety? Is animal abuse really acceptable in return for a better bottom line? Read the disturbing evidence for yourself.

1) Strongsville Animal Control Officer, Chuck McCleary, had visited Tom Collins 22 times in the past year.

Exactly what has McCleary been inspecting? The recent photo of the very sick husky above was taken by me, personally, on Sept. 20, 2019, and posted to Darwin Dogs’ Facebook platform. In a series of Facebook posts, as well as PM’s, McCleary reached out to inform me that the dog in the picture “is by itself, in its own cage not on display on oral antibiotics.” That dog looked about as far from “by itself” as the dog could possibly get.

2) City of Strongsville’s own ordinance states that is an individually is criminally liable if they

“Keep animals… in an enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air” *


“Whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. In addition, the court may order the offender to forfeit the animal or livestock and may provide for its disposition including, but not limited to, the sale of the animal or livestock.” *

To put it bluntly, Tom Collins’ puppies, as well as his breeding cats, never see the light of day once he acquirers them.

They are never taken out of their pens for healthy exercise. So every day that his puppy mill store has been operating, he has violated Strongsville law, and McCLeary would have seen this all 22 times he inspected in the last year. As a matter of fact, he may have seen the same exact animals in the same exact cages over the past years.

Why is this happening? The account of one person I spoke with may shed some light on this. Speaking with her, she informed me that, “Chuck McCleary flat out told me he is a friend of Tom’s when called because he had a dog for sale in the store with a note on it saying it was found in the parking lot of the mall that day.” The individual I spoke with was an employee at the mall at the time, which was a bit over a year ago. The mall employee went on further to state that, “The warden chewed me out for calling him and that he wasn’t going to do anything to Tom, and they’ve been friends for a long time, and as far as he was concerned, Tom was doing it a favor.”

I have asked McCleary if he is indeed friends with Tom Collins; he denied any such relationship.

3) Falsification of vaccination records/medical history ** Kaylin, a local animal advocate as well as a vet tech, recently adopted a puppy from Pick of the Litter, against her better judgment, based solely on the fact of how far in distress one of the puppies looked. She adopted her puppy on July 14, 2018. Having a vet tech background, Kaylin knew that the puppy was only 6-8 weeks old on the day of adoption. POTL told her the puppy was 4 months old. Kaylin knew better, as her puppy had absolutely no adult teeth in her mouth. To make matters worse, Kaylin was told by the employees to give the puppy crushed Fruit Loops on top of her dry food, as the puppy was hypoglycemic. And if she didn’t, her puppy may go in and out of consciousness.

In Kaylin’s own words, “Well, also coming from a vet tech background, that does happen when you take a dog away from their mother too early and they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from the [mother's] milk. If you have to do that, you supplement with some kind of simple syrup, like a Karo syrup, not Fruit Loops. That’s going to cost her in the long run.” And unfortunately, Kaylin has had plenty of problems with her Pick of the Litter puppy. “Allergies, and things of that nature”, she stated, “Probably because her immune system didn’t get to be fully developed.”

But that was just the start of Kaylin’s problems with her puppy. Remember, according to POTL, her puppy was 4 months old, born in March 2018. Kaylin believed her puppy to be 6-8 weeks of age, born on or about May 19-31 and her vet confirmed it. That made the vaccination records POTL provided to Kaylin with her new pup extremely disturbing:

“The records I have from Pick of the Litter for this dog are, some of the vaccine records written in. Working in a vet clinic myself, you take the lot number sticker off the vial, and you put it on the record for if there is any recall or any issue. Three of these are handwritten in. There’s no lot numbers. “

Even more disturbing evidence presented itself on the vaccination records, as Kaylin explained. The dates POTL has stated for the vaccinations of Kaylin’s puppy were before the puppy was even born. According to Kaylin (a vet tech) and Kaylin’s own veterinarian, the puppy was born some time between May 19-31. According to POTL, the puppy’s first shots were given on:

- April 21 (4 weeks before the puppy’s birth)

- May 3 (2 weeks before the puppy’s birth)

- May 20 (the week of birth)

- May 25 (the week of birth)

Parvo and distemper are both very contagious, deadly infections, for which this puppy was never properly vaccinated against. During the Oct. 1 council meeting, Tom Collins stated, “I know the difference between a four week old puppy and an eight week old puppy. A lot of vet techs know everything and they don’t know everything. I’ve been in the business for 35 years.” *

As Kaylin puts it, though, ”This is just a blatant, falsified record of my puppy.”

Falsifying health records is a very serious thing, especially if you are supplying your store with puppies from unethical breeders. Evidence was given that the sick husky puppy photographed above, as well as puppies in the store, had been dosed with “metro” (Metronidazole), due to diarrhea. Metronidazole is used to treat:

  • Giardia (and other parasites)

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

  • Oral and dental infections

  • Other bacterial infections that cause diarrhea or sepsis

Animal Control Officer McCleary even stated in a comment that, according to his inspection at the beginning of October this year, “…this dog came from the breeder this way, and was going to be put to sleep”. He further states that, “…in reality it was saved [by POTL] from euthanasia by the breeder”.

I thought Tom was only picking out dogs from "good Amish breeders".

Yet Tom Collins vehemently denies being involved with unethical breeders and puppy mills.

Southpark Mall is allowing these infected puppies in their establishment and allowing children to come in contact with them right before heading to the food court to eat. Evidence has also shown that Tom Collins falsifies his vaccination records, so who knows what else your children may pick up while there. But enjoy Southpark’s indoor trick-or-treat event on Sunday, October 27! Candy and parasites for everyone!

What about all the bite instances we’ve been hearing about? It’s the most disturbing and gruesome story I’ve heard so far (and that’s saying a lot). I spoke personally with the witness, Ken, and here’s what he had to say.

Date of incident Aug 17, 2019
A puppy was kenneled in fish tank with other different dogs from a different litter. Puppy was in a 50-100 gallon fish tank. At least 7-8 dogs in there with him. I asked why he was in there, and an employee said that puppy (pittie) was in there b/c of the bite. A little kid was touching the puppy, and child was unsupervised, and there were no employees around.
At least three employees were working that day, but nobody was with the public in the store, which was crowded. Dog jumped up and nipped the child. Employee told me that if nobody bought it, they would try to give it back to the breeder, and otherwise they would “put it down”. If the breeder didn’t take it back or if nobody bought it, it would be euthanized. I tried to find a home a home for the dog, but couldn’t.

POTL tried to sell the dog to Ken for $750 initially. Half an hour later, the employee said that the breeder didn’t want it and Ken could have the puppy for $30 . Ken tried to find a way to take the dog home, or find someone to take it, but he couldn’t as he has a newborn, and nobody else he contacted could take it.

We can only guess what eventually happened to the the poor pittie in the photo. By law, the puppy should have been micro-chipped within 24 hours of his arrival at POTL. Most likely, it wasn’t so we will never know.

But what about the individuals who are allowing this to continue? Let’s face it, money talks. Unfortunately, the puppy mill dogs and cats that Tom Collins deals with are unable to speak for themselves. It’s time we stand for those who have no voice.

Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse. Let them know via Facebook that you won’t stand for this mistreatment of animals. Or call/send a letter:

Southpark Mall c/o Starwood Retail Managers 500 SouthPark Center Strongsville, OH 44136 (440) 238-9199

So in short, protests bring a lot of attention to situations like Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, but at the end of the day, not all of us are willing/able/crazy enough to protest outside in all kinds of weather. The way to shut these establishments down can be as simple as one phone call. One email. One review. Let them know this won’t be tolerated anymore, and that we demand better. And we will fight for it.

Dog Training vs. Dog Life

By focusing on dog life, rather than dog training, our goals can become so much more attainable and clear-cut. Most of us don't want an obedient dog, we just don't want a dis-obedient dog. Robot-style dogs who are afraid of stepping out of line are for certain types of people I guess.

But that's not my style. That's why I developed the Piloting method of dog training over 20 years ago, a force-free method of dog training and puppy training that didn't rely on abusive shock collars or cruel prong collars, yet didn't constantly bribe with non-stop click-n-treat style dog training. I want a bond with my dog based on trust and communication.

Learn more about our Piloting method of dog and puppy training here.

Find out more about our private in home 30 Day Best Dog Ever and 30 Day Best Puppy Ever training packages here.

Have questions about our puppy training or dog training?

border collie dog

Kerry Stack

Darwin Dogs

Dog Training and Puppy Training

Greater Cleveland Area

Northeast Ohio

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Apr 28, 2023

Gonna try to be there to support you Carrie. Thanks for all you do!

Kerry Stack
Kerry Stack
Apr 28, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much! Every bit of support helps. 


Apr 28, 2023

If my health was better i would be there. Holmes County is terrible, they have so many puppy mills

Kerry Stack
Kerry Stack
Apr 28, 2023
Replying to

They are truly so awful.


Thank you Kerry for your determination. I will be there to support you and the cause!

Kerry Stack
Kerry Stack
Apr 28, 2023
Replying to

Thank you! It’s a group effort though. So many others are involved and it’s hard to keep track of how many wonderful people are trying to make a difference. 

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