Staff, Board, & Advisory Board

Senior Staff


Deborah A. Howard
President and Founder

deborah howards blog2.ld2As president of CAPS, Ms. Howard is responsible for overall management, program planning, and reporting.  Furthermore, she handles public relations, investigations, legislative involvement, donor development, fundraising, consumer and employee relations, and development of educational materials.

Ms. Howard has extensive experience in the communications field.  
Prior to starting CAPS, she ran an Atlanta-based public relations agency, Howard Communications.  She was formerly with Porter/Novelli -- the lead PR agency with the Omnicom Group -- in San Francisco. Ms. Howard worked with “Dateline” for over a year to prepare an expose of the multimillion dollar pet shop and puppy mill trade.  “A Dog’s Life,” which was over an hour in length, aired in two-parts in the spring of 2000.  Viewers were shocked at the inhumane conditions at puppy mills that provide dogs to pet shops and appalled at USDA’s Deputy Administrator of APHIS Ron DeHaven’s smug indifference to the horrid conditions at two USDA licensed facilities.  They sent more than 9,000 letters and emails to NBC, the second largest response to any “Dateline” program in its history.  “A Dog’s Life” won a Genesis award in 2001. 



Ms. Howard has also generated stories on the pet shop/puppy mill issue with Reader’s Digest, Life, People, Detroit Free Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer (two front page articles), CNN “20/20” (three times), “Hard Copy,” “Marketplace” (CBC) and with numerous television news programs and newspapers around the country. As a public relations professional, Ms. Howard handled a number of national accounts.  The newspaper placements for her PR clients included the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, The Miami Herald, The Baltimore Sun, and Dallas Morning News.  

Ms. Howard’s numerous magazine placements included U.S. News and World Report, Consumers Digest, Rolling Stone, Elle, Vogue, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Working Woman, and Entrepreneurial Woman. Ms. Howard has also worked as a radio news reporter and anchorwoman. 



After graduating from New College of Florida with a BA in Political Science, Ms. Howard earned a law degree from Santa Clara University.

John T. Maher
General Counsel

John Maher is an attorney licensed to practice before all Courts in the State of New York. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from the New York Law School, and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1990. He is also admitted to the bar of the State of Connecticut and in numerous federal courts nationwide.  

Mr. Maher began his legal career at the law firm of Nourse and Bowles and later became a principal at several firms including The Law Office of John T. Maher, P.C. where he practiced for many years. He is currently of counsel at Russin, Vecchi, Berg & Bernstein LLP and also serves as general counsel for the Companion Animal Protection Society.  

As an attorney, he has represented a variety of individual and corporate clients in various legal areas including securities, employment law, intellectual property, corporate transactions, and First Amendment issues.

Mr. Maher has served as an arbitrator of securities cases at the New York Stock Exchange and is the author of a legal book and several legal journal articles and has reviewed, commented on, and modified proposed securities regulation legislation that became enacted as law.  

Mr. Maher has practiced Animal Law, which includes First Amendment issues for over twenty years. He has handled several First Amendment cases brought against protesters, and in every case has succeeded in getting the case dismissed. In addition to CAPS, he has represented, inter alia, Best Friends Animal Society, Smiling PitBull Rescue, the New York State League of Humane Voters, the Global Justice Alliance, and many smaller animal organizations and individuals involved in animal rights, welfare and legislative campaigns and issues.

Mr. Maher also teaches Animal Law as an Adjunct Law Professor at the Touro Law Center in Central Islip, New York and regularly speaks at Animal Law symposia and events. He has also participated in drafting many legislative measures concerning Animal Law, which have subsequently been enacted in various municipalities nationwide.

Ida C. McCarthy
Illinois Director

IdaIda McCarthy leads CAPS' efforts in the Midwest. In her role as Illinois director, Mrs. McCarthy has an outstanding track record of mounting successful protests and rallying communities to fight animal cruelty.

Mrs. McCarthy grew up in Elmhurst and Villa Park in Northeast Illinois. She is a realtor with over 19 years of experience in the western suburbs of Chicago. She joined CAPS in 2008 to protest her hometown location of the unscrupulous pet shop chain, Happiness is Pets (HIP). In 2014, Mrs. McCarthy placed her real state license on hold, began doing part time bookkeeping for CAPS, and became an official CAPS board member.

Mrs. McCarthy started protesting HIP because of Lucy, a pup she adopted from a young couple. The dog's previous owners bought her from the infamous chain. Lucy suffered from an abnormal number of health issues. This prompted Mrs. McCarthy to investigate the store and subsequently the breeder. She was determined to expose the truth once she discovered the horrors behind the puppy mills that supply the pet shop, in this case Marty Gadient.

Mrs. McCarthy was instrumental in spreading the growing pet shop ordinance movement to Illinois. Through CAPS, she provided investigative evidence and reliable information about the puppy mills that supply Illinois' pet shops to community leaders, lawmakers, and the public.

Mrs. McCarthy lives in Lombard, Illinois with her husband of 37 years, Pat. She shares her home with her beloved and spoiled pack of rescue dogs: Lucy, Max and Callie.

Support Staff


Diane Dorado Arp
Chicago Area Director

Sarah Dumra
Donation Processing Specialist

Veronica Rodriguez
Social Media Specialist

Wilfredo Rodriguez
Communications Specialist

Beatrice
CAPS Spokesmodel

Spencer
Canine Donation Specialist



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Investigating Pet Shops and Puppy Mills since 1992

759 CJC Hwy., #332
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