March 21, 2010


 According to the data has collected in over 6000 puppy reports, there are approximately 1600 pet stores in the U.S. that sell puppies.  California is ranked #3 for the number of pet stores selling puppies. Only Florida and New York have more than we do.

Here is the copy from the Channel 6 2008 report.  Now in 2010 we are in crisis with an overwhelming number of dogs straining the resources of shelters and rescues alike. We believe the dogs -- 4 million of them produced by puppy mills last year -- are paying for this greed with their lives.
Pet Store Puppy Illnesses Reported
Reported by: Heather Myers
Last Update: 11/20/2008 12:28 am
In September, we told you about three sick puppies that were sold at California Pets. One of the dogs has since died.

The pet store has two locations; one in Escondido, the other in Carlsbad.
After a two-month long investigation, San Diego 6 has learned about dozens more sick puppies. All purchased at California Pets.

Matthew Garrison purchased three dogs at California Pets. One about six months ago and two more in September. He says his 8-week-old Yorkie, Nala, started vomiting and having severe diarrhea within 48 hours of bringing her home. It was the same for tiny Rocko, who did not survive."Four days after we bought the dog, he died in my wife's arms -- as we picked him up to go meet the vet," said Garrison.

Rocko's body was taken to the County of San Diego's Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab. A necropsy determined rocko died of enteritis, which is inflammation or infection of the small intestine, and intestinal coccidia. That's a parasite, which according to the report, can be transmitted to animals in "crowded conditions or poor sanitation."

Amber-Lee Letourneau bought her $900 Scottish Terrier named Bonnie at California Pets. Four days later the dog died. Bonnie's medical records show the puppy had an infestation of round worms.

Nick Wood says within one day of purchasing his $1500 Yellow Lab at California Pets in Escondido, Yeller was close to death.

Then there's Stacy Pappas, who says she purchased Toby for $1300 from California Pets this August. Toby came home sneezing. "Within two days of bringing him home he was coughing quite a bit," said Pappas. The vet diagnosed Toby with Kennel Cough which turned then into pneumonia.

San Diego 6 sat down with the owner of California Pets, Joe Shamore, back in September. At the time, we only knew about Rocco and Bailey. Since the initial story aired, San Diego 6 received a number of emails from frustrated customers claiming they also purchased sick dogs from California Pets.

We asked Shamore to go back on camera and explain the additional complaints. He declined. But in our first interview, Shamore told us, "They do not come from mills and they are not sold sick."

Shamore told us he gets his puppies from 15,000 breeders and brokers across the nation. Most are out-of-state, including Missouri which has the reputation of being the "Puppy Mill Capitol" of the United States." But Shamore gave us this guarantee, "My name is Joe Shamore and we don't get our dogs from puppy mills." (Note to readers from the Animal Defense Team: See our SD ADT blog entry on how stores can make this statement without being sued for consumer fraud.)
He went on to claim that when any puppy is purchased, the new owner receives this contract and signs off that the dog appears to have the "look of health."
The contract also offers, an "extended warranty." Meaning, if the owner takes their pet to the Monacky Animal Hospital in Escondido or Carlsbad within 7 days of purchase, the dog can be treated for infectious or contagious diseases with the owner only paying co-pays.

Shamore has also issued this statement:
Regardless of where you purchase or adopt a puppy from, it is simply unrealistic to think that puppies cannot become ill. For this reason, before a customer purchases a puppy from us, we inform them of all possible illnesses that could occur and also guarantee to cover medical expenses. It is simply unfair to say that all the puppies that come from our stores are sick. It is easy to pick a few cases. Ninety-five percent of our puppies are happy and healthy and require no medical treatment at all.  Over the 40 years we have been in business, we have placed thousands of happy and healthy puppies with families and provided unconditional love to all involved. We will continue in this endeavor for years to come.

Many of the pet owners we spoke to say it's not the money that matters. They're angry that the brand new member of their family was ill and in some cases, too sick to survive.

March 20, 2010

In Case You Didn't Know/ AB 241, the Anti-Puppy Mill Bill We COULD Have Had

From the website Animal Law Coalition: On Oct. 12, 2009 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 241, the anti-puppy mill bill that would have limited commercial dog and cat breeders to a total of 50 breeding animals.

Virginia, Louisiana, Washington and Oregon all limit the number of some animals used to breed pets for sale. Similar limits are pending in Massachusetts and New York.

It is well known that large volume commercial breeders, usually called puppy, cat or bird mills, place profit before humane care and treatment and simply don't or can't provide the space, exercise, socialization, affection, veterinary care, grooming, nutrition and safe, clean environment to allow these social animals to thrive. It has been demonstrated that profitability depends on inhumane care and volume.

By limiting the breeding, California would have gone a long way to stopping the cruel treatment of animals in large puppy and cat mills. With fewer animals, commercial breeders could have provided better care and treatment.

Also, it was hoped this historic legislation would give law enforcement and animal control the tools they need to stop animal cruelty and avoid the burden large puppy and cat mills place on communities when they must be shut down, leaving large numbers of animals in need of veterinary care, sheltering, and placement. it is the state and local government that is forced to absorb the cost of rescue, care and placement of animals that must be seized from mills because of abhorrent conditions and animal cruelty and neglect. With fewer animals, large scale expensive rescues would have been less likely.

Also, at least one third of animals from mills end up in public shelters, a burden on taxpayers. By limiting the breeding, this bill would have over time reduced animal control costs and the numbers of animals that enter shelters.

In vetoing this bill, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, "I am returning Assembly Bill 241 without my signature. This... measure simply goes too far in an attempt to address the serious problem of puppy mills. An arbitrary cap on the number of animals any entity can possess throughout the state will not end unlawful, inhumane breeding practices. Instead this measure has the potential to criminalize the lawful activities of reputable breeders, pet stores, kennels, and charitable organizations engaged in raising service and assistance dogs. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill."

For Your Informaton: Article From SD Union-Trib, 3-20-10

 /But groups have no oversight; some fear for animals’ safety

Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 2:38 a.m.

Michelle Johnson runs a large-dog rescue shelter in Valley Center. Volunteers care for and feed animals, and look for adoptive homes. California has no laws regulating inspections of rescue groups.
Michelle Johnson walked her dogs yesterday near her Valley Center home. Johnson says she has known Alice Via, who was arrested on suspicion of felony animal endangerment, for 20 years. “Alice is a fantastic rescuer,” she says.
Michelle Johnson says rescue groups perform a service in taking animals with medical or behavioral problems.

The volunteers take in dogs and cats, horses and rabbits who have been abandoned or whose owners can no longer care for them. They spend time and money caring and feeding for the animals and looking for people willing to adopt them, with no reward other than the satisfaction of helping the creatures.

But with the recent arrest of a Lakeside woman who authorities say had 63 boxers and other dogs crammed in cages in her house, some are wondering if rescue groups need more government oversight.

“The majority of rescue groups are fabulous,” said Julie Morris, senior vice president of community outreach for the American Society for the Protection of Animals. “They’re by people who really care and spend an inordinate amount of their own money, but there’s definitely bad apples in the crowd.”

California is among the states with no laws governing inspections of animal rescue groups. Elsewhere, Virginia requires such organizations to register with a state office; in Michigan, an alliance of rescue groups has set up a code of ethics.

With the lack of regulations, rescue groups here are rarely inspected by animal control officers. Alice Via, 65, came to the attention of authorities only because they received a complaint from someone visiting her Lakeside home who was considering adopting a dog.

Via was arrested March 10 on suspicion of felony animal neglect and four misdemeanors related to allegations that she had unsanitary conditions for the dogs in her two-bedroom home. She is also accused of keeping more than six adult dogs without having a kennel license.

Via was released from custody and is scheduled to make her first court appearance Monday.

Via did not return phone calls, but on her Web site she defended her operation of 17 years. “The dogs here were safe, happy and healthy,” she wrote. “I know, I lived with them.”

Via’s arrest generated sympathy from some other rescue group operators.

“Alice is a fantastic rescuer,” said Michelle Johnson of Valley Center, who runs a large-dog rescue shelter in Valley Center and has known Via for 20 years. “She has a very good reputation.”

Animal control officers said Via told them she became overwhelmed caring for the boxers, Chihuahuas and terriers in her home. Other rescuers said they are also getting more calls from desperate animal owners who must relinquish their pets when they lose their job or their home. Debbie Paradise, who’s run a rescue operation for 20 years, said she now has six rescued adult dogs and nine puppies in her Spring Valley home.

“Sometimes you can’t say no,” Paradise said. “I have a lot right now. I have more than I usually do.”

Lt. Dan DeSousa, spokesman for the county Department of Animal Services, said Via was allowed to take boxers from county animal shelters, although her group was not one of the 151 rescue groups approved by the county. Rescue groups are not required to be approved by the county, but getting on the list allows rescuers to take animals from county shelters without paying the $69 fee that the public is charged.
DeSousa said rescue groups approved by the county agree to inspections by the Department of Animal Services. However, he said the department’s 31 animal control officers don’t regularly inspect the groups. They go only when they receive a complaint about the condition of the animals.

The county department handles animal control in unincorporated areas and in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee and Solana Beach. As law enforcement officers, animal control officers must have a reason to go into the home of someone running a rescue group, DeSousa said.
The San Diego Humane Society also has volunteer community service officers who inspect pet stores and rescue groups that offer animals for adoptions at the stores.

“Rescues have done remarkable work,” said Humane Society Capt. D.J. Gove. “There’s a lot of good out there, but the challenge is: Do they have the resources?”

DeSousa said the county shelters work closely with the rescue groups in finding homes for abandoned animals. State law requires shelter officials to release an unadoptable animal to a rescue group when the group is willing to take the animal, he said.

Johnson said rescues perform a valuable service of taking shelter animals with medical or behavioral problems.

“If it wasn’t for rescues, the amount of dogs and cats that would be euthanized would be unimaginable,” she said.

DeSousa said the dogs seized from Via’s home are getting medical treatment and will be offered for adoption when they are no longer needed for Via’s criminal case..


Many animal rescue groups operate in San Diego County. Check Web sites such as or to locate them. Here are some of the questions to ask when adopting an animal:
Is the rescue group a nonprofit organization?
Where did the animal come from?
Does the animal have any medical or behavioral issues?
How long has the animal been at the shelter?
Is the animal good with children or other pets?
Can I return the animal if the adoption doesn’t work out?
For animals who no longer have a home, a rescue group can mean a second chance at a good life.

March 15, 2010

HSUS Pet Store Pledge

We are adding the following store to our Wall of Shame for stores that sell puppies:
My Puppy, 7770 Vickers St., Ste 101, San Diego CA 92111
We will visit this store as soon as possible to confirm.

Also, Pets Uptown, on University Ave. in Hillcrest, has informed us by phone they no longer sell any animals, including puppies. We will confirm with a personal visit, and if that is so, will let you know and remove them from our Wall of Shame. We will also ask them to sign the HSUS pledge.

We delivered the HSUS invitation and pledge several weeks ago to:

Pet Hideaway in Seaport Village
All About Animals Inc. 5622 La Jolla Blvd.

Neither have responded as of this date.
Remember the Puppy Friendly Pet Store Pledge is a simple pledge that their store will not sell puppies.

March 12, 2010


The San Diego animal community is reeling after the highly publicized arrest of Boxer Rescue's Alice Via and the Animal Control raid on her property, which resulted in the seizure of 60 dogs. We are left feeling angry, depressed, overwhelmed and burned out.

If there's one thing that we all agree on, it is this: THERE ARE TOO MANY DOGS. Too many for rescue groups to handle. Too many for shelters. Too many. Period.

Animal advocates must come together as a group to help each other and to stop the proliferation of dogs being produced. Certainly, we all agree on the issue of spay and neuter. However, we can also tackle this problem at the source.

The San Diego Animal Defense Team is working on legislation to stop selling puppies in San Diego pet stores. We are talking about enormous numbers here. The HSUS now estimates 2-4 million puppy mill pups are born each year in the United States.  How many of those have ended up being euthanized, living in shelters, being rescued by you?

This is a billion dollar corporate industry with people becoming rich off of the suffering  of breeder dogs left in deplorable conditions for their lifetimes, and their puppies being produced in massive numbers.

We are all busy with the extreme amount of work we must already do to keep this out-of-control crisis from imploding under its own weight. We know your time and energy are limited and you are spending it trying to save lives. We join you and applaud you.

Please stand with us to stop millions of dogs from being factory farmed by greedy corporate interests. How?

Urge your contacts to boycott any stores that sell puppies. See list on the left.
Support our campaign to pass legislation in San Diego to ban the sale of puppies (and kittens) in pet stores.

FYI: SD Humane Society - Front Page News

Note: The San Diego Humane Society is not affiliated in any way with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

This article appeared on the front page of the North County Times on Sunday, March 7, 2010.


Some former volunteers at an animal shelter in Oceanside are complaining that since the San Diego Humane Society took over the shelter in January, animals that could have been adopted have instead been euthanized.

"They're not saving animals the way people think they are," said Kris Nelson, a former volunteer for the North County Humane Society, which merged with the San Diego Humane Society early this year. Humane Society President Mark Goldstein said Friday that the society saves "every animal that is healthy and treatable,"

"We're not in the business of killing animals ---- we're in the business of saving animals," Goldstein said. "We're dedicated to saving the life of every animal that comes into our care. There's no upside to our taking an animal's life."

Nelson and former volunteer Elaine Godzak said several dogs that had been cleared for adoption at the North County Humane Society before the merger were later taken to San Diego, re-evaluated and either killed or placed on a list of dogs scheduled to be euthanized. "San Diego Humane started taking dogs from our shelter in Oceanside, taking them to their facility in San Diego, and they were never seen again," Godzak said.

Godzak, who owns two dogs, said she was so upset by what she saw at the North County shelter that she quit in February, hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue the society to stop it from euthanizing animals that she says could be saved. She said she worked with the North County Humane Society for nine years, serving for a time as its volunteer coordinator. The shelter is on San Luis Rey Road, in northern Oceanside.

In the first month since the merger, 45 dogs were moved from North County to San Diego, said Humane Society Senior Vice President Laura K. Maloney.

Of those, five were euthanized because they had behavioral problems, three for medical reasons and one for a combination of medical and behavioral problems, Maloney said. Two of the 45 dogs are on a list of dogs likely to be euthanized, she said.

In that first month, 12 of the North County dogs were either adopted or put up for adoption, one was returned to North County, 13 were under medical care and eight were still being evaluated, Maloney said.

Godzak's lawyer, Bryan Pease, has accused the Humane Society of violating a state law by refusing to give rescue groups animals that the society put on its list to be euthanized. "Apparently SD Humane is not allowing these animals to be adopted out, but is holding them where they cannot be seen by the public nor seen by rescue organizations," Pease wrote in a Feb. 22 letter to Goldstein.
In an interview last week, Pease said "these are rescue groups that deal specifically with animals that have behavior problems." He said he hopes to resolve the matter in a meeting with Humane Society officials this week.

Goldstein said the Humane Society does work with rescue groups, which he prefers to call adoption agencies. But he said the San Diego Humane Society wasn't as accustomed to working with them as the North County Humane Society, because most adoptions in San Diego are handled directly by the Humane Society.

"We are going to follow the law," Goldstein said. "We are in the process of looking at the law and understanding what it truly requires us to do."

Goldstein said that since the merger, about 60 animals were moved from North County to the Humane Society's San Diego operations on Gaines Street or Sherman Street to be evaluated or treated. He said about 80 percent of them were adopted or put up for adoption and the rest were either euthanized or are still being evaluated. Those that were euthanized were either too sick to be adopted or had intractable behavioral problems, Goldstein said.

Godzak said the Humane Society is too quick to condemn a dog for behavioral problems. She said one of the dogs on the society's list to be euthanized was featured as a Pet of the Week by the North County shelter and took part in a San Marcos dog walk. Goldstein said that dog is still being evaluated.

Godzak said a different dog ---- a mixed-breed pit bull she cared for at the Oceanside shelter and took for walks ---- was among those that the Humane Society took from Oceanside to San Diego and euthanized. "She was a sweetheart," Godzak said about the dog, which was named "Boo Boo."

Goldstein said Boo Boo was evaluated as being too aggressive.

"We give every animal the benefit of the doubt and learn more about them every day," Goldstein said. "We came to the decision that this animal was one we didn't feel comfortable with going back into the community."

Godzak said rescue groups are eager to take dogs like Boo Boo and retrain them. She said she wants the Humane Society to do more to work with such groups so more dogs can be spared.

"I expect better of an organization of their stature," Godzak said."I expect full compliance with state law; it's that simple. Let the process work. It's a proven process."

March 06, 2010

Have You Purchased a Sick Puppy from a Pet Store?

Here's the  Prisoners of Greed link to file a report!

In many states the sale of a puppy with physical problems, whether an illness like Parvo, genetic defects like hip dysplasia, or perhaps even social problems can be the subject of lawsuits. If there are enough people who have purchased ill puppies from a certain store, the cases may be able to be joined in a class action. This website will act as a clearinghouse for people to file reports and meet others who may have purchased puppies from the same store or the same broker or kennel. We will note ongoing lawsuits so that people who have purchased puppies from the stores involved can get access to information about the lawsuit. We will also seek to provide referrals to attorneys in the area who may be able to help. To file a report, ask for information about a store or if you're an attorney taking referrals for these types of cases, you can email here:

HOW CAN PET STORES GUARANTEE THEY DON'T SELL PUPPY MILL DOGS IF THEY REALLY DO???  There is no legal definition of a puppy mill. This allows pet stores to put up signs like this and deny the sale of puppy mill dogs without being prosecuted for consumer fraud. The term is commonly used to describe U S Department of Agriculture licensed kennels, the very ones the pet stores brag are "professional breeders." The Humane Society of the US: "Investigators have documented overcrowding, flea and parasite infestations, starvation, dangerous enclosures, inadequate ventilation, poor sanitation and other violations, all done to cut corners to make large profits."
January 31, 2010 -- the San Diego Animal Defense Team presented the Humane Society US Puppy Friendly Pet Store Pledge to Pet Works in Grossmont Center Shopping Mall.

February 21 --  employees confirmed the invitation and pledge were in the possession of Richard Fuller, the owner.

March 7, 2010 -- Pet Works has refused to sign the pledge. The HSUS is being notifed and this store is being highlighted on our boycott list. Please do not shop for any food or supplies at any store that sells puppies or refuses to sign this simple, humane pledge!


March 05, 2010

March 03, 2010

Puppy Mills: Our Country's Dirty Little Secret

From the ASPCA:
"The states which have the most puppy mills include Missouri, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas.The typical puppy mill will house hundreds of dogs used solely for breeding purposes. Females in these facilities are forced to begin breeding at their first heat cycle, which can begin as early as eight to nine months of age. After this point, they are then bred heat cycle after heat cycle with little to no recovery time between litters. This can lead to reproductive disease and illness. Females are typically killed when their reproduction rate declines—usually after five to eight years. As you see, the puppies in pet stores are the lucky ones. The parents of the puppy in the pet store window will most likely never make it out of the mill alive.

Many puppy mills are set up just like factory farms that raise hens for egg production. In a similar setup to the battery hen system, multiple dogs are crammed into tiny cages stacked row after row in dark barns or sheds. The cages in a puppy mill are stacked to maximize the number of dogs who can be housed in one building. Under USDA regulations, the cage must only be six inches taller and approximately six inches longer than the dog. As a point of reference, a dog about the size of a beagle can be housed in a cage the size of a dishwasher for her entire life!

Like battery cages, the dog cages usually have wire flooring, allowing for feces and urine to fall though to the cages below, ultimately forming heaps of waste. Even though federal law and some state laws require a partition between rows, the partitions frequently overflow, causing waste to fall onto the dogs in the bottom rows. The atmosphere is usually poisoned with unhealthy levels of ammonia, which causes burned eyes and chronic respiratory disease in many of the dogs."

We know this video isn't easy to watch and it's also difficult to read how our companion animals are treated. But if we don't know how bad it is, how can we possibly help to stop it??? Please educate everyone you know AND join the fight to stop puppy mill sales in San Diego. It is a beginning!
Email us at

March 01, 2010

Another Store Added to the List of Puppy Friendly Pet Stores!

San Diego Pet Supply, 1490 Island Avenue, San Diego
       (15th and Island, downtown)

They signed the HSUS Puppy Friendly Pledge today, and made their practice of not selling puppies official!