Friday, July 08, 2011

Companion Animal Protection Society Investigates I Heart Puppies Store in Corona del Mar


National Group Investigating Corona del Mar Puppy Store

Caps undercover investigation of a Midwest commercial breeder that supplies southern CA pet stores. This breeder is USDA licensed and is a multiple and repeat violator of the Animal Welfare Act.
posted: July 6th, 2011 09:01 am |47Comments
A national animal rights group has launched an investigation into the newly opened I Heart Puppies shop in Corona del Mar.
The store, which opened Friday, may have puppies for sale that come from “an egregious violator of the Animal Welfare Act,” said Carole Davis, West Coast director for the Companion Animal Protection Society. She declined to say how she obtained her evidence, but she said it includes undercover video footage of the breeder’s facility and “is not hearsay.”
“I have evidence this breeder supplies the Corona del Mar store,” she said.
The shop’s owners said they stand by their stated mission to get puppies from reputable breeders.
Co-owner Suzanne Bradford said the shop’s puppies come from breeders who in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “which, as we all know is the agency that inspects the countries food supply. So I think it makes sense that if we trust the USDA to make sure our food is safe for us and our families, we would also trust them with their responsibility of regulating commercial dog breeders,” Bradford said.
Davis said she launched the investigation Tuesday after receiving 30 complaints about the store in one weekend. Typically, she sees that many complaints in a month, she said.
According to Davis, the Corona del Mar shop has puppies from at least six breeders, one of which has been investigated by the USDA and by the CAPS group since 2006.
Davis declined to name the breeder, but she said she had reports from her internal investigations and from the USDA that described dogs living in broken wire cages with no bedding, outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. Water bowls were missing, frozen over or contaminated with feces and urine, Davis said.
“The reports are really disturbing,” she said. One report said the dogs were in cages 3 feet off the ground, “and underneath is so much fecal matter that you would have to wear a mask,” she said. Any pet shop owner who visited this particular breeder “would leave in tears,” she said.
The breeder is located in the Midwest, she said. The violations and terrible conditions occurred in that location and not in Corona del Mar.
“We are not accusing stores of abusing animals,” Davis said.
A complete CAPS investigation could take up to six months, she said. “We inspect, we talk, we get inside, we observe, we talk to people who’ve bought animals, we talk to veterinarians,” she said.
Her goal is to work with the I Heart Puppies shop to convince them to work with local shelters to set up a “humane business model” rather than purchase dogs through brokers who may be getting dogs from unethical breeders. The shop’s owners have said they plan to include an adoption element to their business plan.
When the investigation is complete, Davis said she would send the results to members of the Newport Beach City Council with a request to change city code to ban shops from selling dogs that do not come from local shelters. According to the CAPS website, the group in 2009 successfully worked with four Los Angeles pet shops to convert them to humane business models that work with rescue centers to find homes for adoptable pets. In 2010, the website states that a CAPS undercover investigation resulted in the West Hollywood City Council passing an ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores with an exemption for the adoption of shelter and rescue animals.
“CAPS is currently working with Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) on an ordinance for La Mesa (San Diego County), CA and assisted Richmond, British Columbia animal advocates on a by-law banning the sale of pet shop dogs,” the website states.
Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner, who represents Corona del Mar, said she was surprised to learn the shop was selling puppies “given the climate today,” but she had not received any calls or emails complaining about the business.
CAPS’ goal is to put inhumane dog breeders out of business by cutting off their sales, Davis said.
“We want to make it so they don’t have a place to sell their dogs,” Davis said. “We want to take away their outlets so they will decide to get a job that doesn’t include animal cruelty. That’s who we’re mad at.”
The shop, located at 2801 East Coast Highway, also sells pet supplies, puppy apparel, leashes and more.
“As far as what Companion Animal Protection Society thinks of the business model for I Heart Puppies, we believe we have a wonderful concept that puts beautiful healthy puppies in loving homes,” Bradford said. “We are very excited about the wonderful response we have had to our store, people appreciate what we have to offer the community and we look forward to providing the area with loving healthy puppies.”
Read our earlier story here.

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