CAPS is very proud to announce that Aquarium & Pet Center in Santa Monica, California signed a legal agreement to convert to a humane business model. In late October, this pet store, which has been in business for over 20 years, decided to stop selling puppies from mills. Aquarium & Pet Center now works with rescue organizations to promote adoptable animals from the Los Angeles municipal shelter system.
Aquarium & Pet Center had been the target of an ongoing CAPS investigation linking the store to The Hunte Corporation, the largest USDA licensed dog brokering facility in the country. CAPS is quite familiar with the practices of Hunte as the result of an undercover employment investigation at this large facility and ongoing investigations of Hunte’s puppy mill suppliers. In addition to dogs supplied from inhumane breeding facilities in the Midwest, some of the puppies sold at Aquarium & Pet Center were from a puppy mill just outside of Los Angeles. This was the fourth store in Los Angeles to succumb to investigations and protests by CAPS between March 2009 and November 2009. Other stores no longer selling puppy mill dogs include Elaine’s Pet Depot, Elite Animals, and Pets of Wilshire. Elaine’s Pet Depot, part of a chain in the U.S. and Canada, offers rescue animals for adoption. On the basis of our efforts against Elaine’s, the entire Pet Depot chain stopped selling dogs and cats (some didn’t before).
CAPS had organized three weekend protests in front of Aquarium & Pet Center. On October 10, the protest was interrupted by violence when dozens of animal rights activists were shot at by an unknown assailant with a high powered air rifle, spraying them with two millimeter brass slugs. Two of the protesters were slightly injured. The police investigation into the shooting is ongoing and there is a $5000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.
But our work in Los Angeles has just begun. We need to use this momentum to get ordinances passed in other towns and cities in Southern California, including Los Angeles, which will in turn generate even more interest across the country. An in-depth news story on the pet shop industry in the Los Angeles area is desperately needed, which requires that CAPS investigate pet shops and the mills that supply them.