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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Puppy Protest

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A group of Westport concerned citizens stood outside the Puppies of Westport store on Post Road West this afternoon to call attention to what they said are abhorent conditions and treatment of animals in the puppy store industry. The group has started regularly demonstrating each weekend in an attempt to educate consumers about the issue. The group can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


Posted 12/31/06 at 01:17 AM  Permalink


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Thank you ladies for your efforts to expose the truth behind the pet store industry. It is still unfathomable to me that such an upscale well-educated community would not know about this issue. Shocking people still shop for animals at a pet store instead of going to a reputable breeder, animal shelter or breed rescue group. Let’s hope your protest wakes everyone up to the cruelty in the pet store industry.

Posted by Scott McKenzie on December 31, 2006 at 08:00 PM | #

Has anyone actually verified that Puppies of Westport buys its dogs from disreputable sources?

Posted by Jeff Kiker on January 01, 2007 at 02:34 AM | #

No reputable breeder has a constant stream of puppies for sale at all times.  Only puppy farms are able to provide the “dog on demand” through their inhumane conditions which see bitches constantly impregnated to keep up the supply to those who seek the instant gratification of a cute little acquisition.

Posted by Julie Adler on January 02, 2007 at 04:08 AM | #

So this business is protested without proven cause. Got it.

Posted by Jeff Kiker on January 02, 2007 at 12:48 PM | #

Reputable breeders do not allow their puppies to be shipped over 1000 miles in the back of a truck.  Many of these puppies are from Missouri, the puppy mill capitol of the U.S., trucked in via the third largest puppy broker in the U.S. 

Go to the Dept of Agriculture in Hartford, ask to see the health certificates for the PoW puppies, information available to anyone who is interested. 

They have also been cited numerous times for lack of cage cards (information regarding where the puppies originated), as required by State law.  As of last week, there were still no cage cards in this store.  Why?

Posted by Karen Rasmussen on January 02, 2007 at 07:40 PM | #

Mr. Kiker, I too had that same question (proof) and wanted to see facts rather than hear talk.  To that end I traveled to the State of Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture to review files on this particular store and others in our area. What I found there were the “Certificates of Veterinary Inspection” from 2006 which each puppy for sale must have in order to be shipped here and enter our State.  There were a number of things from these Certificates that struck me: 1) that all of these dogs came from Missouri (a state known for puppy mills) specifically from Tracy’s K&J Pets in Fair Grove, MO, and Sanjon Kennel in Louisburg, MO), 2) the number of puppies shipped to the store in each shipment (one Certificate had what appears to be a single shipment from one source consisting of 26 puppies and 14 different breeds; all Certificates were multi-breed, multi-puppy shipments), 3) some of these puppies were too young to be vaccinated before shipment (according to the certificate).  You can view these Certificates towards the bottom of the page at http://www.petshoppuppies.com/transport.htm - I did not write the text above them.

I also have garnered through the Freedom of Information Act the Inspection Reports from the USDA (which regulates and inspects the animals sold as pets in the United States) for Tracy’s K&J Pets.  I only have three inspection reports all dating from 2005.  Two of them Tracy’s K&J Pets passed, one Report they were written up in the following manner: “There are three vari-kennels being used in two of the outside runs with only one small size dogloo a piece.  The enclosures contain 4 and 3 canines respectively.  Need to provide a shelter that protects the canines from the elements and is large enough to allow each canine to sit stand, and lie in a normal manner and turn about freely.” (USDA, Routine Inspection, 1/19/05, #257069 inspection ID, written by David Courtright, ACI, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care)  It appears as though this citation was remedied by the next inspection (8/31/05).  Regardless, it didn’t make me feel too good about Tracy’s K&J Pets.

I was spurred to find this information out when Puppies of Westport moved to town.  I was troubled by a conversation I had at my gym with someone who spent $1,100 on a puppy and subsequently another $1,200 in medical bills to fight kennel cough, ongoing giardia and other health issues.  I’m not a veterinarian and didn’t see the puppy – but could tell the person had gotten thoroughly attached to the pup and was heartbroken to have to give him away as the cost of veterinary care became too high (and wasn’t getting any help from the store to date).  I have heard other, similar stories locally about puppy stores but nothing first hand.  I have seen both good and bad opinions (not mine) at http://www.petshoppuppies.com/report.asp?ID=PETSHOP285898439 – you might want to check them out too.  I, personally, have found more than enough information to form my own opinion:  I’ll be shopping at Choice Pet Supply, Petco, Earth Animal, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus or another local business that does not sell puppies and, if I chose to add another four legged friend to my home, he or she will be from a reputable, local breeder (whom I’ve done an equal amount of research on) or – better yet – I’ll adopt from a shelter or breed rescue/ www.petfinder.com Best of luck if you’re searching for a new puppy and with whatever decision you make regarding where to get one from.

Posted by Dorrie Harris on January 03, 2007 at 05:06 AM | #

This is a message from Puppies of Westport.  We would hope that it will be read by those who are protesting against the wrong people and disseminating misleading and worse yet, false information…..
We wholeheartedly agree with the message of those who are against the abhorrent practices of puppy mills- the worst of which, by the way are in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. The owners of Puppies of Westport have eleven dogs of their own- all of which were acquired through pet stores and several of which may well have originated from some horrible puppy mill. Those purchases were made when the owners were ill-informed buyers.  That was before we undertook extensive research to insure to identify high quality non-puppy mill sources. We opened Puppies of Westport because we wanted to offer our community a viable source of puppies that came from quality breeders and who were well taken care of from the moment of birth to the moment they become a member of someone’s family.  In over 96% of our sales, we have been successful in accomplishing our goals. 

Unfortunately, puppies are fragile living beings susceptible to illness in the same way that a newborn baby is on the day it leaves the hospital. The only way to insure buying a healthy dog regardless of the source is to buy a toy stuffed animal that will not respond with the same kind of love and companionship that man’s best friend is so well known for. Unfortunately, when an innocent buyer gets a dog that gets sick directly from a ‘breeder’ they assume it must be their fault- while those buyers who get a sick dog from a pet shop automatically assume that it had to be the fault of the pet shop. Many pet stores deserve the bad reputation of selling sick dogs because they either buy from disreputable sources or because they do a poor job of caring for the puppies once they arrive in their store. Puppies of Westport is not such a store and it is important to note that most of the protesters who have held signs outside our store have never even taken the time to stop in and see how well our puppies are cared for or to find out exactly where our puppies are from.

Sorry to see you would disseminate incorrect and unverified information about a Westport business that in just 6 months has over 500 very happy customers with puppies. The business has taken care of every customer with a problem- these representing fewer than 4% of all buyers. Our puppies DO NOT come from puppy mills. We have not purchased a puppy from Tracy’s in over three months (and we no longer do)- not because they are a puppy mill but because dog activists believe that any firm who facilitates the distribution of dogs from a variety of reputable breeders must be a “puppy mill”.  In the same way that some people choose to sensationalize health department inspections that reveal minor infractions at four star restaurants like Le Cirque or the Four Seasons, protesters will cite what they admit are minor and ultimately corrected infractions at a firm like Tracy’s.  Interestingly, they fail to note that Sanjon Kennels- the only other of our sources they cite has been the breeder of best in show winners at dozens of dog shows including two wins at the ultimate canine event- the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York!

The majority of those who buy puppies are families with young children. We represent a uniquely qualified place for a family to find their new family member. When a family walks into our store they can choose from among dozens of different breeds and many different puppies all of which have different attributes and temperaments. There are few things as heartwarming as watching an eight year old girl decide that the little puppy that everyone else thinks is ugly is actually the only dog in the world that it wants to own. We have had families who stop in six, eight, and even more times before they are comfortable that they have found the puppy that’s right for them.  Now contrast that with the experience of buying a puppy from a “breeder”.  First, the family needs to decide what breed of animal they want.  That is a difficult if not impossible task for the average young or even adolescent child.  Then the family needs to identify a “reputable breeder” of that breed and arrange to travel- what might often be hundreds of miles- to be interviewed by that “reputable breeder”. If the “reputable breeder is satisfied with the maturity level of the child and the recreational facilities the family will provide the dog, they will then tell them whether they have pups now or when the next litter might be available. This could be two months or more later and they may not even be able to give the color that the dog will be. In many cases, the choice of dog offered to the family will be made by the breeder and not the family.  This process is not the kind of process that results in that ‘instant bond’ between child and dog.  It may work well for some, but it’s not the kind of process most children look forward to or have fond memories of.  It’s sad to say that there are also plenty of so-called ‘reputable breeders’ who raise their puppies in homes that many Westport families would not find highly appealing.

If a family wants to get a dog from a shelter, that’s absolutely their choice and in many cases a laudable decision. Only a minority of shelter dogs are either still puppies, or a pure-breed or a mixed breed that can be identified with certainty. We sincerely grieve for any dog that ends up in a shelter and hope that every shelter dog ends up in a happy and welcoming home. However, we would welcome a comparison of the nutritional, social and medical treatment received by shelter puppies with the treatment received by those puppies at Puppies of Westport. The contrast would be both dramatic and probably startling to those protesting in front of our store. And rather than spending thousands of dollars falsely accusing a reputable business of selling puppy mill dogs, that money could be far better spent to support shelters that end up euthanizing animals since they don’t have the funds or space to keep them alive.

It is also interesting that the ONLY thing protesters can criticize Puppies of Westport for is missing cage cards while not noting that the source and breeding papers of every dog we have and have ever sold is immediately available to anyone who requests it.  The inference is that we must be trying to hide something. This is simply untrue. The only reason cage cards have not been consistently up is that we move our dogs frequently to make them well socialized and avoid the enclosed cage syndrome that most pet stores- and shelters, for that matter, subject their puppies to.  As dogs are frequently moved, the cage signs are hard to keep updated. Our cages and pens are also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice daily and this causes the cards we place to get wet and fall off frequently.  We have come up with a new method that will allow us to keep cage cards on at all times, so we guess your concerned citizens will have no further reason to say we have broken any rules- regardless of how unimportant they may be. We suppose they’ll come up with some other issue to criticize.

Contrary to other statements made by our activists, we have never had (or sold) puppies that were too young for sale (eight weeks), and every one of our puppies has received far more than the minimum vaccines and treatments that they could receive based upon their age.  The notation of “too young to vaccinate” which regularly appears on state inspection papers required for all dogs (regardless of age) refers SOLELY to Rabies vaccines which may not be administered to a puppy that is younger than twelve weeks old.  One unscrupulous practice that is fairly common at true puppy mills involves falsifying the age of a puppy and claiming that a dog of only six or even five weeks is actually eight weeks old in order to permit it to be legally sold.  One way to identify such puppies is to look for baby teeth which are present in almost all puppies that have reached eight weeks old, but often not visible in younger pups. There are many benefits to falsifying a dog’s age including the fact that younger pups are cuter and easier to sell and that getting a puppy into a store at five weeks means that it has more weeks in which it can be sold at full price prior to it becoming too old for most buyers.

Our preference would be to only sell puppies that were twelve weeks old because that means they are a lot less susceptible to illness and better equipped to handle the stress associated with leaving their litter mates and moving to a new home, however that is not what much of the puppy buying public wants.  By the time our puppies are twelve or fourteen weeks old, many of our buyers complain they will be missing out on the ‘cute’ puppy stage. They believe this even though puppies are not truly cognitive until at least twelve weeks.

The problem is that if we were to only buy dogs that were twelve weeks old, many of our breeders would choose to sell their pups to stores who will accept them at eight weeks of age. We are also confident that buyers seeking eight week old puppies would simply seek out pet stores- most of which are not as safe and caring as we are- that were willing to sell them eight week old or even younger puppies.

Shelters and pounds have their place and we endorse them wholeheartedly as a source for dogs (though they don’t always have puppies) for people who are appropriate adopters.  Many dogs adopted from shelters have more health problems and turn out to be unexpectedly aggressive six months or even years later. In fact, the only study ever conducted on the long term health of animals acquired from all sources (by Cornell University Veterinary School) showed that dogs acquired from pet stores had the best health record of all other sources- including breeders!

We have had many customers come to us with stories of dogs they had ordered from high quality breeders that either ended up being extremely sick (and dying) or who unexpectedly received a call from the breeder to tell them their puppy had died prior to the promised ship date, or who arrived via plane and were unfortunately dead upon arrival. We have also encountered many people who adopted shelter dogs only to find that their temperament which was forged with some other owner was not suited to their family.  Bad things do happen to good dogs regardless of the source.

We are sure that your ‘concerned citizens’ have seen good shelters and bad shelters, as well as good breeders and bad breeders.  Unfortunately, your apparent lack of knowledge about and disinterest in finding out the truth about Puppies of Westport must mean that you believe there is no such thing as a good puppy store. While you have every right to your opinion, your opinion is simply wrong.

Regardless of what you believe, we urge you not to disseminate false information. That would rise to the level of unprotected free speech and we would be left with no choice but to pursue the various remedies that are available to us.

Posted by Monty Kaufman on January 12, 2007 at 10:33 PM | #

I just finished regarding the article regarding Puppies of Westport, I wanted to share my experience with them.  In August my boyfriend and I went in just to look and play with some puppies.  We walked out 3 hours later with our new mini pinscher, Piper! She was just 10 weeks old when we got her. Puppies of Westport, especially the owners were EXTREMELY helpful. Monty had all the answers to our questions, and was very passionate about his business.  This is not a “traditional” pet store. It is more of a “boutique”.

We brought Piper to the vet a few days after we got her to make sure everything was OK and she was a healthy pup.  We were told that she was in great health and everything looked good.

Piper is now 7 months old. We live in Vermont.  We have received nothing but compliments on how beautiful she is and how well-behaved she is.  The vet up here told us that they have never had such a fun, nice and playful MinPin before. She is the best dog.

So I want to say THANK YOU to Puppies of Westport.

We look forward to bringing her back for a visit when we are back in the area.

Posted by Sarah Humphreys on January 15, 2007 at 05:22 PM | #

Perhaps, the mini pinscher owner should take off the rose-colored glasses. Of course, a businessman is “passionate” about his business – it is just that a business. Instead of selling clothing, furniture or other items - a pet store makes a quick buck on animals. One can only think of all the mini pinschers or other dogs that this Pollyanna could have provided a home for instead of taking a dog that is quickly replaced with another shipload from Missouri. Each dog you purchase perpetuates this industry. Next time, think about a reputable breeder or, better yet, a breed rescue or animal shelter who are being flooded with these animals when the owners can no longer pay the medical bills or lose interest in their impulse purchase because pet stores provide no screening other than a valid credit card.

Posted by jon selleca on January 16, 2007 at 10:59 AM | #

Well according to your beliefs, we did rescue a dog.

Posted by Sarah Humphreys on January 16, 2007 at 05:06 PM | #

Mr. Kaufman, I have a hard time believing what you type.  My name is Kim Townsend and I am the president of PetShopPuppies, Inc. (www.petshoppuppies.org).  The puppies I have researched from your facility come from some of the worst puppy mills in the Midwest. 

Shame on you for deceiving your paying customers.  Here are just a few of the USDA inspections on “breeders” that Mr. Kaufman obtains his puppies from.  Anyone that has purchased a puppy through a pet store can fill out a request for a “free puppy report” at http://www.petshoppuppies.com/request.asp










Posted by Kim Townsend on January 07, 2008 at 05:23 AM | #

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