Best Friends Volunteers Protest Pet Stores That Buy Puppies From Puppy Mills

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Best Friends Volunteers Protest Pet Stores That Buy Puppies From Puppy Mills

By Amy Saks, Daily News

The windows of New York City's pet stores may soon be undergoing a humane makeover - one shop at a time.

Beginning Saturday, volunteers for the Best Friends Animal Society are scheduled to begin staging peaceful protests in front of local pet stores that sell high-priced puppies.

“The goal of our demonstrations will be to stop pet stores from selling dogs obtained from irresponsible breeders,” said Best Friends campaign manager Kelli Ohrtman.

The national “Puppies Aren’t Products” campaign kicked off last year in Los Angeles, where it has so far been successful in getting five pet stores to stop selling puppies.

New York City is home to 66 pet stores that are licensed to sell puppies, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The first local protest is set to take place Saturday and Sunday in front of American Kennels, on the upper East side.

The Kanab, a Utah-based animal welfare organization, says it has documented that puppies sold at the Lexington Ave. store are obtained from puppy mills, where breeding parents and puppies are kept in inhumane and overcrowded conditions.

In a call to the store Saturday, a salesperson said its puppies come from reputable breeders and not puppy mills.

But First Puppy Bo Obama’s breeder, Art Stern, who runs Amigo Portuguese Water Dog kennels, in Dallas, says there’s just no way.

'Responsible breeders would NEVER EVER sell or consign puppies to a pet store,' Stern wrote in an e-mail. 'Our contract states that a puppy owner may not sell the dog to any commercial establishment.'

The campaign’s goal is not to shut down the pet stores, but to encourage the owners to move to stop selling puppies from certain breeders.

“Dogs in commercial breeding facilities are not treated like pets, but more like livestock,” Ohrtman said, with animals confined in small cages, for years at a time, for the sole purpose of churning out as many puppies as possible. Every time a dog is purchased in a pet store, the shop will place an order for more “inventory.”

Last month, the former posh Pets of Bel Air — famous for selling high-priced puppies to Paris Hilton, among other celebrities — became the first store to adopt a more humane model.

An investigation last year by the Humane Society of the United States revealed that puppy mills in the Midwest were supplying the store, which closed after a 6-month protest staged by various animal groups.

The upscale boutique, now known as Woof Worx, only sells dogs from local shelters and breed-rescue organizations.

New York hopes to adopt the model where pet store customers can adopt a dog for a fraction of the cost, support a business that’s doing the right thing and save a life, says Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

“Buying puppies contributes to the problem of homeless pets dying needlessly because no one adopted them,” she said.

Every year, about 43,000 cats and dogs land in the city shelter, and thousands are euthanized simply for lack of space.

Purebred and designer dogs can be found in many U.S. shelters for a fraction of the cost.

For more info go to Best Friends Animal Society and Puppies Are Not Products.

Go to our image gallery to learn more about puppy mills.

Visit our video page to learn even more.

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