Boise & Garden City

Puppy sales banned at Cabela’s parking lot after dog with parvo was sold there

The Hawkins Cos., which owns the building housing Cabela’s in Boise, has banned the sale of puppies or other items by private parties in the parking lot.
The Hawkins Cos., which owns the building housing Cabela’s in Boise, has banned the sale of puppies or other items by private parties in the parking lot.

The owner of the Cabela’s outdoors store building in Boise and its parking lot says it has removed animal breeders from the lot after animal lovers alleged that a puppy died of parvo a few days after someone sold it there.

A post by animal rights activist Kara Cooper in a Facebook group she administers, 208 AAA~Anything Animal Awareness, says Luna, a Yorkie-Pomeranian mix, racked up high vet bills for her new owners before ultimately dying of the gastrointestinal virus.

Cooper said the dog, which was sold for $600, died Thursday after being sold Saturday, April 6, to a family. When the family returned last Saturday to the parking lot to complain, the seller “made demands to see the vet bill and pictures which were provided” before beginning to “act like she couldn’t speak English and refused to provide any personal information.”

The animal’s death could not be immediately confirmed. Cooper’s post included a photo of the dog and a photo of a redacted bill from Northwest Animal Hospital that she said on Facebook was the bill the family received.

Dr. Walter Wethered, a veterinarian and the owner of Northwest Animal Hospital, said by phone that he could not say whether the dog was treated there because he has a policy not to comment on patients, nor could he confirm that the bill was legitimate.

Parvo is a highly contagious disease transmitted via dog feces. It’s commonly characterized by vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. Puppies typically get a round of vaccines to reduce the chance of illness, but the virus can live in soil for years. The post encouraged all people who bought puppies in the parking lot recently to take them to a vet.

Wethered did say that based on a timeline he had heard, the puppy had parvo before it was sold and did not contract it from dog feces in the parking lot that day. It was possible that the puppy might have pooped in the parking lot, where the disease could spread to other dogs.

Puppies have been sold in the parking lot for years, Cooper said in a phone interview Monday. The breeders have no ties to the stores there, but Hawkins Cos., owner of Franklin Towne Plaza, which includes Cabela’s and the parking lot, said in a statement to the Statesman that the sale of private items not from its tenants, including animals and cars, is prohibited within the shopping center.

“We have taken the necessary steps to remove the sellers from the property,” the statement said. “If this act continues, we will continue to take the necessary steps to remove such private sellers from the property.”

Cabela’s stores nationwide are gearing up to host a “Dog Days family event” on Saturday, April 27. Stores invite dog owners to the store, with their pets, for seminars, photo downloads and free gift bags.

“I don’t know what we’re doing with that event,” Chris Dominquez, general manager of the store at 8109 W. Franklin Road, said in a phone call Monday.

Idaho Humane Society communications manager Kristine Schellhaas said by phone that because animals are considered to be property in Idaho, the Humane Society has no jurisdiction over how people sell the dogs. She said the Humane Society was aware of the posts and others like it on social media.

Schellhaas encourages people to consider shelter pets and reputable breeders first when looking for a new pet. Shelter pets from the Humane Society come spayed or neutered, and with all necessary medical and dental work done, often for cheaper than breeders will sell pets, she said.

“If you decide to get a pet from a breeder, I encourage people to know your breeder,” Schellhaas said. “Know how and when they’re bred. See where and how often.”

Some commenters on the Facebook post said people should be banned from selling animals in parking lot and talked about increasing requirements for animal breeders.

TJ Thomson, a member of the Boise City Council and a self-described animal lover, said by phone Monday that he has been working with the Idaho Humane Society to introduce legislation on how animals could be sold in Boise in the next few months as part of a larger code update on animals. The ordinance would ban sales of companion animals on the street.

“One hundred percent, I would love to end the practice in Boise,” Thomson said.

But animals sold in parking lots, which are generally private property, would not be included in that restriction. Agricultural animals would also be exempted.

Thomson also proposes to ban the sale of breeder animals in pet stores. Stores that get their dogs from shelters would not be included in the ban.

“Strengthening the code for more humane practices is my No. 1 priority,” Thomson said.

Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.