Posh Puppy of Tarzana and Beverly Hills closes due to protest
Posh Puppy Store Closes in Reaction to Protest in Beverly Hills! A Victory for dog lovers.
Watch video of the protest by clicking on link below:
Not even two weeks after HSUS unleashed the scandal that blackened the reputation of Pets of Bel Air, the Hollywood celebrity pet shop that caters to party tarts Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, yet another celebrity pet shop came under fire—Posh Puppy of Beverly Hills. On Saturday, December 22, the busiest puppy buying day of the year, a feisty group of animal welfare activists gathered in Beverly Hills for a yuletide rally to speak out against puppy mills and to promote adoption in front of the Posh Puppy store on Wilshire Boulevard.
“Stop! Don’t shop! It’s kinder to adopt,” they chanted in unison.
Posh Puppy, which has several branches in Los Angeles (Beverly Hills and Tarzana) and specializes in selling “teacup breeds” like Malteses and Yorkies for thousands of dollars, has raised the ire of local residents who are frustrated with puppy stores sprouting up on every corner. They came to voice their disapproval of the cruelty behind the growing trend of disposable accessory dogs and to educate the public that the majority of pet shops are supplied by puppy mills.
John and Michelle Yoon, breeders themselves and owners of the Posh Puppy stores decided to close for the day instead of facing down this group of lively and organized California activists. Hollywood writer and comedian Carol Liefer pumped up her sign and pointed out that, “they [the owners] did the worst thing they could have done from an Art of War perspective. They retreated like cowards. We won! They closed!”
Members of small rescue organizations and large animal welfare organizations like Last Chance for Animals, Best Friends Animal Society and the Humane Society of the United States handed out brochures, waved signs and hooted as supporters drove by, honking their horns. Wide smiles, banners and home-made signs were all on display under the blinding California sun. Four-legged demonstrators and two-legged picketers mingled, informing passers-by and drumming up the genuine support of last minute Christmas shoppers. But the message was not about buying this holiday season, but more about giving—as in giving an abandoned dog a loving home.
Though the picket regulations were clear about not blocking the entrance to the store, dog-loving Beverly Hills cops weren’t about to spoil our fun and looked the other way when actor/comedian Richard Belzer, of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit sat in the forbidden doorway with his adopted poodle Bébé. “I, like most human beings, love dogs and some are not aware of the grotesque and ill treatment in these breeding mills here,” said Richard Belzer. “They just think of dogs as money and we have to protect them.”
In order to make a point, protesters had been asked to bring their own rescued pocket dogs. Many of the dogs were wearing oversized price tags that were slashed down from “$2000 to Priceless!” Almost all the furry objectors were dressed in cheerful holiday attire, some with antlers, some with bells and Santa suits. Terri Austin, founder of The Amanda Foundation in Beverly Hills, was carrying a miniature dog in her purse—yet another pure-bred dog that had been dumped on death row. “If we came here every week, we could shut them down for good. Let me know as soon as you do another protest, I am so there,” she said.
The Christmas spirit had electrified the crowd. Carole Sax, a local rescuer exclaimed what fun she was having. “I’m having a ball,” she said, bouncing Gretchen, her rescued Chihuahua, (named after the late Gretchen Wyler of the Genesis Awards). “I’ve never felt more alive, doing what I’m supposed to be doing—taking a stand with all these nice people! This place is disgusting and we should shut them all down!” Moments later, Gretchen, the designer dog, took a dump in her designer pocketbook.
Like a California wildfire, news of the rally had spread all over the internet in the days leading to the event. Small local rescue organizations worked overtime sending the invite to everyone on their e-mail lists. Last Chance for Animals, the sponsor of the rally, had sent out an action alert to its California members and Best Friends Animal Society followed with an alert two days later. Then, adding to the momentum, the Humane Society of the United States acted quickly and sent out a call for California members to join in. The dog lover groups on Myspace.com were peppered with bulletins. We knew we were going to have a successful rally at that point.
Apparently panicked by the impending rally, the Yoons scrambled to move all the animals from the store and taped a sign on the inside of the glass double doors of Posh Puppy, claiming they had closed for the “safety of our puppies as well as our clients.” The absurdity of its wording wasn’t lost on protesters, who see themselves more as the protectors of the animals being sold there. (In fact, if the Yoons are willing to work with L.A. Animal Services, we could find loving homes for all of their puppies within days.)
With a sly grin, Bill Dyer, of In Defense of Animals, slipped a fistful of anti-puppy mill brochures through a crack in the door, creating a surreal still life juxtaposition of $200 sequined party dresses for dogs and sad pictures of dogs suffering in a breeding warehouse.
Reporter and writer Jane Velez Mitchell came with her two rescued Chihuahua mixes. All wound up and spinning like a top, Cabo, her little black four-legged protester was the loudest of all. As if on springs, he jumped up in front of the cameras and barked his disapproval of the pet trade for three hours straight. Jinky, a death row mutt from the San Pedro shelter and the author of rescue book “The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife” expressed himself literally: he lifted his leg and peed on Posh Puppy’s wall.
A short woman of about eighty whose face was pulled tight as a drum approached me. She was wearing a mink jacket despite the balmy L.A. weather and dropped her shopping bags and asked if she could join the group. “I love zuh doggies,” she said in a Russian accent. “ How can zay treat zem ziss vay?” I shrugged, thinking, boy, she’s damn lucky it’s not Fur Free Friday. That was in November and she would have gotten a real tongue lashing from this group. But sometimes you have to pick your battles and the battle of the day belonged to puppy mill dogs. I handed her a sign that my husband had made in our kitchen that morning that said, “Don’t be a bitch! Adopt one!” I told her, “OK now, walk around but you might, um, want to turn your jacket inside out? That look isn’t working for me right now.”
The star of the rally was undoubtedly Baby, a puppy mill survivor belonging to animal welfare advocate Jana Kohl. Baby’s story is heart wrenching. She had been kept in a cage as a breeding dog for nine years and her leg had to be amputated because it had been broken so badly in her wire cage. Her vocal chords had been removed so that she could no longer bark and annoy anyone with her cries. Her story broke our hearts but reminded us why we were there. We were there for her and all the others like her who are still imprisoned.
After the rally and amongst the blitz of congratulatory e-mails and phone calls, reports came in from distraught buyers of puppies from Posh Puppy in Tarzana and Beverly Hills. One of them, Jayme Rones, claims her puppies were very sick. She will be facing the Yoons in court on January 2 in Van Nuys, California. The rest of the reports, and there are eight so far as of this publication, are from Posh Puppy and other puppy stores in Los Angeles. The allegations are being investigated.
For dog lovers, the important thing to note is that even if a puppy store is willing to prove it is not being supplied by mass breeders (why don’t they?), this is a shady business with very little oversight. With all the negative buzz about puppy mills, it would behoove all puppy stores to be forthcoming about encouraging buyers to visit where the puppies are bred. If a breeder or puppy store owner is willing to sell a dog on-line, via e-mail, his ethics are planted in the gutter.
On December 27th, John Yoon was asked by Jennifer Krause of Best Friends Animal Society why he sells dogs when there are so many homeless animals in need at the local shelter. "We live in a free democracy,” he replied. “And people have the right to choose. Some people may choose to buy an economic car, like a Hyundai, and it may run perfectly well, and suit them just fine, and others may choose to buy a top of the line, Mercedes Benz. It's just a matter of choice."
The manner in which Mr. Yoon justifies his dog selling business reveals the way he thinks of animals as commodities. He is comparing dogs to cars. Not only is the comparison harmful, he is making a rather ugly social statement about people as well. To Yoon, the Hyundai is the shelter dog and the Mercedes Benz is his top of the line $3000 tea cup Maltese. To Yoon, the person getting the “economic” dog at the shelter just can’t afford to choose the top of line product that he sells in his upscale store. Yoon’s got it all wrong. 20% of the dogs at the shelter are “top of the line.” I have rescued two myself: a pure-bred Bichon Frisé and a show quality Cairn Terrier.
Mr. Yoon exacerbates his damaging comparison on Posh Puppy’s MySpace page: ( http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=194306 )
The Posh Puppy web page flaunts cars—Bentleys, Aston Martins, Porsches and BMW’s as arduously as it does undersized, over-bred tea cup dogs. Mr. Yoon is correct about the fact that it’s a matter of choice. Adopting a Maltese from a rescue organization for a donation of $300 is a far more ethical choice than buying a $3000 Maltese from a pet store. Not only is it a more ethical choice, it’s a smarter economic choice. If Mr. Yoon could adopt a Bentley with 3000 miles on it, I bet he’d take it.
Puppy store owners who claim to be breeders themselves, in an effort to assure buyers of their sincere love for dogs (as Posh Puppy owners and employees allegedly tell their customers) doesn’t automatically put them on Santa’s nice list. In fact, it just makes us wonder how many dogs they are breeding. Anything more than three breeding bitches puts a breeder under the jurisdiction of the USDA and there are minimum standards of care. To read the minimum standard of care for live animals in a breeding facility is depressing to anyone who loves their dog (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/awr.shtml).
The dogs only need food, water, room to stand, turn around and have ventilation and some artificial light. You never have to let them out of the cage. Oh, and you’re not allowed to let them freeze to death.
In all fairness though, if we are going to point fingers at puppy stores and their suppliers, we should reserve a special finger for the buyer. With all of the information available in the press about puppy mills supplying pet stores, there is no longer any excuse for people to buy dogs and cats from pet stores. These buyers are not doing their homework. They want a luxury item and they want it now, at any cost and without any regard to where the dog might come from. When someone is buying an inanimate $2000 item on EBay, you can read the questions that go back and forth between the buyer and the seller, who is asked to prove where that item is from. Incredibly, it seems like puppy buyers ask fewer questions than someone buying a used bowl on EBay.
Carole Raphaelle Davis is an actress, animal welfare advocate and author of “The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife.”
If you have bought a sick puppy from a Los Angeles puppy store, please contact the following Web Site: http://www.hollywoodjinky.com/ and post your story here in the comment section.
Photos by Melissa Maroff