Friday, December 08, 2023


Westport Pet Store Continues to Stir Controversy

By Dave Matlow

The protesters were outside Puppies of Westport on Post Road West again today, as they have been on many previous Saturdays—much to the consternation of the owners who say their animals do not come from puppy Image
Protesters were out again today in front of Puppies of Westport on Post Road West whose owner denies his animals come from puppy mills. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dorrie Harris for

“We do not buy from puppy mills,” said Monty Kaufman, who with his wife Lauren, have operated the store at 420 Post Road West since July 2006.

He said the dogs in his store are acquired from independent breeders, all of whom are USDA-licensed in the mid-West where he said more than 90 percent of the breeding facilities are located.

Protester Dorrie Harris of Westport said “the bottom line for these protests is to raise awareness about where these pet store puppies are coming from—they are not sourced from some bucolic farm or raised by loving hand.”

She added: “They come from puppy mills—dreadful places where the dogs are kept in what any average Westporter would consider exceptionally inhumane and unhealthy conditions.” Image
Protesters try to get the attention of passersby today on Post Road West. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Monty Kaufman said his store has sold about 1,800 puppies since it opened with about one-third of the buyers living in Westport.

He said that he is in the process of calling every purchaser to inquire about satisfaction with the dogs acquired from Puppies of Westport. 

“So far we have called 300 owners and all but one has been very satisfied,” he said.

At one point, about 17 protesters were outside the store today. Among their signs was one promoting a video at and saying: “This store gets pups from the same mill.”

13 thoughts on “Westport Pet Store Continues to Stir Controversy

  1. The parents of the dogs sold by this store live their entire lives in cages. They buy from some of the largest dog brokers in America and the breeders they use have multiple violations identified by the USDA.

    Oklahoma dog brokers Robert and Darlene Lourance have received the distinction of being number 4 in the TOP 10 WORST DOG BROKERS in Oklahoma, racking up 14 USDA violations between 2003 and 2006. Four of the violations were under the category of

  2. Mr Kaufman’s suggestion that he is calling all his previous customers fails to get to the heart of the issue. Calling Puppies of Westport customers deflects from the reason many of us have given up hours & hours of our weekend to protest outside this store: the MOTHERS of the puppies. These dogs are forced to live out their entire lives in cages pumping out litter upon litter to supply pet stores. The paperwork from the Dept of Agriculture clearly shows where these dogs are coming from. Check the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mill’s website for hard data that clearly supports our efforts.

  3. A question for the owners of Puppies of Westport –  what is your definition of a puppy mill?  And saying that you don’t buy from the 3 largest brokers doesn’t prove you don’t buy from puppy mills.  I honestly don’t understand why your store goes out of its way (more than any other store I am aware of) to say that you don’t buy from puppy mills. 

    I’m glad to hear you have happy customers although I’m certainly aware of many that are unhappy.  Anyone who doubts the protesters should just go to Winslow park and ask around – see for yourselves.  For anyone considering buying a puppy – the bottom line is you MUST see the parents of the puppy.  If you don’t, you have ZERO proof that you are not buying from a puppy mill.  It’s as simple as that. You can choose to ignore it, but for those of you that really care about dogs and want to be sure you are not buying from a puppy mill go to a shelter, North Shore Animal League (less than 1 hour away) has rescued puppies every day of the week.

    Don’t buy a puppy that was raised as livestock to fuel an inhumane industry that does a stellar job covering up its faults.  Don’t support stores that behind the scenes puts the lives of so many dogs at risk in this country every day.  And don’t ever buy a puppy over the internet – that’s even worse!

  4. Isn’t it amazing that this group (all the above comments are from group members) targets Puppies of Westport but doesn’t go after any other pet store.

    The United States Department of Agriculture enforces all animal laws and regulations. This Agency is adamant in maintaining that there is no definition of a “puppy mill”.  The demonstrators maintain that a puppy mill is anyone who breeds more than fifteen dogs a year for profit. Does anyone believe that profit should even play a role in determining whether someone abuses animals?

    The term puppy mill has many different meanings depending upon who you ask. Puppy Mill simply means a very bad breeder who is guilty of mistreating their animals. The types of violations that USDA inspectors find at these bad breeders includes Dogs matted and covered with urine and feces, dead and seriously ill animals left alongside healthy ones, Dogs with mange, broken bones, missing limbs, gangrene, open and untreated wounds and infections, dogs that are malnourished without food or water, chained or tethered to steel posts, left outside with no protection, and/or exhibiting signs of being “cage crazy” by spending most of their life circling aimlessly in their cages and many other horrors.  The kennels/breeders who do this to their animals need to be shut down and punished severely.

    Each year, the USDA shuts down and/or suspends and fines many of these breeders.  Each year, many breeders have their breeding licenses revoked. The USDA regulations are fairly strict and so it is the rare inspection that does not result in some type of non-compliance item that must be corrected within a period of as few as three and no more than fourteen days, depending on its severity. 

    The kinds of violations that frequently appear include the presence of any expired medication at the kennel, including things like Betadyne or iodine, the presence of rust on any portion of the kennel-regardless of whether a dog is housed in that particular enclosure, signs of mouse droppings anywhere near the dog houses, a food container that is in contact with the ground (regardless of how long it was there so that a grandmother who can’t lift a 40lb bag of food by herself will get written up if the inspector comes before she finds someone to help her lift it. Other violations include failure to use the current USDA form for recordkeeping- Even if the form being used was acceptable for use until last month, veterinary inspection forms that are signed in the wrong place or that were mistakenly unsigned following a vet examination.  Other frequently seen violations include piles of unused building materials or insulation that could attract rodents if left for long periods of time as well as a failure to have any of the dogs in a kennel with an identification card even if the card was just removed by one of the more curious puppies or dogs. 

    Each year, the USDA writes up over 25,000 violations, which allow groups like the Westport Coalition to indict virtually any breeder, when in truth, there is a huge distinction between many of the unavoidable or technical violations and those that truly indicate that the breeder needs to be shut down.

    What is absolutely incredible is that the demonstrators are quick to point out that “no reputable breeder will sell a dog to a pet store” but they don’t bother to tell you that as long as any breeder doesn’t sell their dogs to a pet store, they are exempt from all federal as well as state licensing and inspection requirements!!!! 

    There are hundreds of dog breeders in CT, for example, many of which breed over 15 and even more than 100 dogs a year but there isn’t a single one that has a USDA or State of Connecticut license.  All these breeders have to do is walk down to their local town hall, pay $15.00 for a “kennel license” and they have no further requirements of inspection by any governmental entity!  These “reputable breeders” can be worse than many of what the demonstrators refer to as puppy mills, but they never get inspected and have no regulations governing how they treat their animals!

    Puppies of Westport is one of two pet shops in the State of CT to have both State and Federal Licenses (the other one has the Federal license because they also sell exotic and poisonous animals which requires licensing).  The USDA inspection requirements for Puppies of Westport is exactly the same as those for any breeder or broker, and the last USDA inspection at Puppies of Westport was conducted on May 13, 2008 and there was absolutely no-  not a single one- item that was found to be in non-compliance in any way!
    Does it sound like the demonstrators might just be barking up the wrong tree?

    Puppies of Westport regularly monitors all of our breeders to insure that they are not being written up for any of the genuinely bad violations that would indicate that they are a “bad breeder” or “puppy mill” (whatever that term means).  As of this date, Puppies of Westport has acquired puppies from well over 300 different breeders and has stopped doing business with almost 100 of them- and many of these were written up for violations that were less than demonstrative of a truly “bad breeder”.  These demonstrators go to Hartford weekly and they know everyone we get our puppies from and yet when one of them was quoted recently about how terrible our breeders are, the four examples listed were “Vermin, expired medication, broken cages and broken shelf wire.” Does anyone believe that this activist would choose to list the minor violations of our breeders and neglect to mention the more serious ones?  We opened Puppies of Westport to give our neighbors an alternative to the other pet shops and mall stores that get all or a majority of their puppies from one of the three largest commercial puppy distributors that account for delivery of almost 80% of the puppies sold in pet stores.  We do not get any of our dogs from any of these suppliers or from any of the web auction sites that also supply a majority of pet stores.

    We have succeeded in our effort to give our neighbors a safer, better, and more pleasant experience but we apparently have failed at convincing the members of this small coalition who are out to shut us down so that the only pet stores left would be the ones who buy from the “puppy mills” we both want to shut down! 

    We wholeheartedly urge anyone who desires to adopt a pet from the CT Humane Society or a local pound to do so. There are many terrific dogs needing to be adopted. We are simply an alternative for those families who want to select a specific breed and get their dog as a puppy through a different buying/selection experience. We are different than most other pet stores. 

    Please support the local humane societies in any way you can. But please do not confuse the local Humane Societies with the national lobbying group that our protestors get most of their information ans statistics from!  This national group, unfortunately called the Humane Society of the United States runs no shelters, saves no dogs and primarily funds lobbying efforts that include getting people to be vegetarians and dozens of other animal rights issues that have nothing to do with puppies.  Many local Humane societies have statements o their web sites indicating that they are not in any way affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States because they want those who care about animals to contribute to their local Humane Societies that really do take care of needy animals!  BUT, the national HSUS knows that by promoting the suffering of puppies and their parents they are more likely to tug at the public’s heartstrings and raise lots of money to fund their lobbying efforts.  A senior national officer of the HSUS has stated, “The life of an ant is as important as the life of my child.”  This is the same group that raised over $25 million dollars in small donations by running ads in many newspapers asking for contributions to “Save the Michael Vick Dogs!” But as the New York Times pointed out in a lengthy article, not one penny of the money contributed went to save one of the VIck dogs AND the President of the HSUS was quoted as urging that all of the MIchael Vick dogs be Euthanized since they were too violent to be saved!  This is the same group that ran dozens of ads asking the public to “Save the Katrina Dogs” in New Orleans, but the Times also pointed out that not a penny of the $30 million contributed went to save one of the animal victims of Katrina.  This is the same group that produced a video showing the horrendous conditions at three “puppy mills” that they unlawfully trespassed upon pointing out that one of them was an “unlicensed breeder.” But when the New York Times checked with the USDA and was told that this breeder was in fact fully licensed and inspected, they sought a comment from the President of the HSUS (Wayne Pacelle) who said that “

  5. Let’s make this easy and, um, brief. Here’s video of just one place Puppies of Westport shops for dogs,

    It doesn’t look like much of a “palace”…it seems more like a particularly cruel environment in which to keep animals. It’s so good to know this store “regularly monitors all of our breeders.”

    Spare me.

  6. Does the grandmother who keeps dogs stacked in tiny cages for years also have a used car for sale? Preferably one she drives to church on Sundays with low mileage?

  7. Mr. Kaufman can continue to rant and rave as he chooses.  The fact is that his store is supplied by puppy mills.  Evidence has been collected with new evidence on it its way.  His attempts to defend the suppliers of his puppies is offensive and quite pathetic.  The Coalition Against Puppy Mills ( is made up of men and woman of all ages with demanding professional and personal lives.  We look forward to the day when we don’t have to devote our time to alleviate animal abuse created by puppy mills and the pet stores they supply.

  8. When someone disagrees with you they are ranting and raving!  When you make fun of grandmothers and their church going habits that’s professional and mature.
    I’m still waiting for the reams of evidence that the group keeps talking about- but now they say there’s more on the way!  No comment on the abuses of the HSUS, no comment on the documented falsity of the information they circulate. No comment on their true motive which is no further sale of puppies regardless of their source. No comment about all the unlicensed local breeders.
    When you are upset about an issue it makes sense to do something that has a reasonable likelihood of addressing your concerns.  Picketing outside the only pet store that works hard to identify good breeders and avoid the bad ones is not going to do anything to serve their cause. 
    Why don’t they try to increase funding for the USDA so that theu can better enforce existing rules and regulations?. Why don’t they go after the stores that get their puppies delivered in 18 wheelers with 300 dogs at 2 in the morning to avoid public scrutiny?.  Why don’t they go after the unlicensed breeders who get away with all kinds of abuses and have no oversight whatsoever? Why don’t they travel to the Midwest to protest the really bad breeders and focus attention on the real culprits?
    All of that wouldn’t solve their biggest single issue.  The fact that there is a pet store in THEIR Town of Westport. Last time I checked, they had no greater ownership rights in Westport than any of the over 500 families who love the puppies they bought from our store.
    It’s a shame they can’t tell the difference between making sound, logical, factual statements and what they call ranting and raving!

    Mr. Mckenzie is showing his true colors as is the rest of the group and I unfortunately expect to continue to have this ridiculous war of words continue for the foreseeable future.  Because the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills has about as much chance of closing Puppies of Westport as Scott McKenzie has of becoming the next Pope!

  9. I choose to “target” Puppies of Westport as it is in my own back yard.  To have the name of Westport associated with a business based on the support and advancement of cruelty to animals is an insult to the town and its citizens.  Despite the no puppy mill sign prominantly displayed in the front window, evidence continues to mount that Puppies of Westport is clearly no different from other pet stores that sell puppies in that they are supplied by puppy mills (  While our Coalition membership may have started off “small”, our number is growing as local consumers become educated and informed about the inhumane conditions at facilities supplying pet stores like Puppies of Westport with their puppies.  Nationally we are joined by hundreds of thousands of animal lovers and advocates that are trying to end the plight of puppy mill dogs like those sold at Puppies of Westport.  In addition, shelters and rescue groups, including the CT Humane Society, have sections on their web sites urging animal lovers to stay clear of pet stores.  In regard to “it is our hearts that are huring”, please.  At a price of $1000 to $3000/puppy plus accessories, it is the pet store owner’s bank account that is hurting, not his heart.  People have a right to run a business but it should not be one that supports and advances animal cruelty.

  10. Well I can’t take the time to address every statement you made Monty.  You really don’t know who we are as individuals and I believe you are mistaken on many counts but let’s not bother debating this on westportnow where I’m not sure anyone really cares outside those that are involved with the cause.  And, you benefit since many people don’t care about puppy mills and never will – they just want a puppy when they want it.  Just like people don’t care about any number of horrible things going on in the world.  But perhaps there are some who would be swayed by the truth and that’s all we’re trying to do – raise awareness about puppy mills and provide some facts that are available via the Freedom of Information Act if people just took the time to look..

    However, you are correct that there is no legal definition of puppy mills.  We actually have one that the group will post this week on our website.  It’s not what you mentioned and I’m still waiting to see your definition, but we should make ours clear so thanks for pointing that out since you likely hear from any number of disgruntled residents.  It’s impossible to tell if they are really part of our core group or not.

    As a governmental agency, no one should be surprised to hear that USDA does a terrible job enforcing laws – they don’t have enough inspectors and when inspectors aren’t watching, corners are cut, puppies and dogs suffer out of sight.  Apparently with the pasage of the latest Farm Bill, the USDA inspections will be reduced even farther – putting even more dogs at risk behind the scenes.

    Lastly, you have really opened our eyes and we absolutely are looking at stores across CT.  We do a lot of research in Hartford – not just on your store but that’s where we live and you’re the one saying you don’t buy from puppy mills so where else would we start?

  11. It is widely believed that the average price puppy mill puppies are sold for, to pet stores like Puppies of Westport, is $10-$200!! Mr. Kaufman speaks of helping local families and their children find the perfect puppy blah, blah, blah…Bottom line is, he makes a ton of money on each and every puppy he sells, probably way over $1000 per pup! We all know how much people love their dogs, so much so that they are willing to pay top dollar for them, all their accessories, and a lifetime of often expensive veterinary care. We want these people to know where pet shop pups come from, because if they knew the truth, they too would not stand for it. Mr. Kaufman has said several times that other local pet shops sell puppy mill pups, when in fact, there is paperwork to show that Puppies of Westport has received puppies from some of the same breeders! Also, he said on his website a while back that he inspects every puppy as it comes off the truck, and that he has rejected some in the past because they were not well enough to sell. Since that statement no longer appears on his website, I assume he must have realized that shows the public that while those puppies were not well enough for him to sell, he left them on the truck to return to the breeder. Let’s see, those are sick, young puppies who travelled hundreds of miles to get to his store, only to be shipped back on an equally long and arduous trip which the pups likely will not survive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he took them to the vet and paid their bills himself and then found them homes? It would be, but it would also cut deep into his profits.

  12. Mr. Kaufman, did you need a copy of the 2005-2008 USDA inspection reports for Robert and Darlene Lourance in Oklahoma?  You must not have these reports because surely you would not still be using the Lourances as one of your puppy brokers, since you are so vigilant in identifying puppy mills?  Let’s recap just a few of their many violations:

    6/16/05 There is an excessive amount of feces, 3-4 inches deep in places under the elevated outdoor run portion of the sheltered housing facility.
    2/16/06 (Repeat violation) – There is an outdoor enclosure in the elevated pen portion of the facility that houses 5 dogs and provides only 1 shelter that is not large enought to allow all of the dogs to sit, stand, turn and lie in a normal manner.

    2/26/06 – The trays under the cages and housing units throughout the facility had an excessive amount of grime, dirt, mud, debris and other build-up that had not been cleaned or sanitized.  The owner indicated that the oudoor housing units were cleaned out ONCE A YEAR.  All units need to be washed and sanitized at least once every 2 weeks.

    2/6/07 – The indoor primary enclosures, excluding the puppy room, have an excessive amount of feces, hair, dirt and grime build-up.  The trays under some of the primary enclosures have a large build-up of feces and hair that have not been properly cleaned out and sanitized.  Ground areas underneath other outdoor raised units also have a build-up of waste that has not been removed.  Affects approximately 350 animals.
    2/5/08 – The 7 year old French Bulldog named Anna Marie has a left eye that is either missing or severely infected.  There is only tissue with no eye visible where the eye would normally be. 
    2/5/08 – The total number of adults accounted for during inspection is 447 adults and 116 puppies.

    I should think that would fit anyone’s definition of a puppy mill.

    Even your smaller breeders seem to be having trouble complying with the minimum standards of care based upon the Animal Welfare Act.  Sherrie Zuspann for instance – do you need her reports too?
    Just a recap of her stellar inspection records:

    Missouri State inspection 5/5/06 – During inspection the ammonia and odors were strong and the moisture level is high (humid).  Need to provide some kind of ventilation for the health and well-being of 89 animals.

    USDA inspection 6/1/07 – A 13 year old male yorkie had excessively matted hair over 1/2 of its body mass, with a portion of the matt appearing to have been torn from the opposite side of the body.  The rest of the dog was hairless with no signs of regrowth.  The tail and splotches of skin were red and inflammed looking.  There were 3 lesions on the front legs of the dog in various stages of healing.  It also appeared that the dog could not stand properly with excessively long toenails.  The animal was alert but listless.

    6/1/07 – The majority (80%) of the dogs (all long haired) had severely matted coats, some caked with fecal matter. 

    6/1/07 – The primary enclosures in the 2nd building had an excessive accumulation of dirt, hair and grime buildup.  There were mouse droppings along the wash downs.

    6/1/07 – Approximately 20 dogs (Maltese, Bichons and Shi Tzu’s) were in stacked wire enclosures.  1 Cocker Spaniel had 2-4 inches of head space.  Needs a minimum of 6 inches.
    Your grandmother comments meant to evoke sympathy just don’t fly.  Having relatives in the Midwest, I know it’s not a big stretch to find lots of 40 year old grandmothers out there.  If someone can’t comply with even the minimum standards of care (repeatedly in many cases), then it’s time to hire some help, or get out of the business.

    The USDA unfortunately does not shut down puppy mills.  Breeders are allowed 3 inspections to correct a violation before being even minimally fined.  Then after that, they are encouraged to reduce their inventory (dog) numbers.  Rarely are licenses revoked.  Usually what happens when things get really bad is that the breeder will voluntarily relinquish his/her license, sell all their dogs at auction, then just re-apply for a new license and start all over again.

    Oh, speaking of auctions, another one of your breeders, Betty Mings, sold 13 of her bulldogs at a Missouri dog auction yesterday (5/24).  169 bulldogs all told were on the auction block from various breeders.  Ms. Mings’ dog #42, less than 3 years old, had already whelped 2 litters of puppies (last litter whelped 1/20/08) and would “possibly be bred by sale date”.  I thought your breeders don’t breed every heat cycle?  Sadly, there were 2 sibling puppy bulldogs on the block yesterday too, from another breeder.  Both AKC registered, both with grade 2 heart murmers.  They’ll be put to work in no time as breeding dogs, regardless of congenital defects. 

    I repeat that it’s not our job to do your homework for you regarding your breeders.  This information is quite easy to locate for anyone who actually cares enough to take the time.

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