2019 came and went — but we were able to accomplish so much in just 365 days. From our undercover investigations of puppy mills and pet shops, exposing consumer fraud at pet stores, and celebrating wins in the coming one step closer to putting an end to the puppy mill industry, we want to reflect on all we have done this year — thanks to your help and support.
CAPS spent 10 years laying the groundwork for AB 485 – the first in the nation to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits by pet shops statewide. On January 1, 2019, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, which bans the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet shops, went into effect in California. The law’s goal is to keep mill animals out of pet shops and to increase the adoption rate of the animals that really need homes: those in shelters and with rescue organizations. California pet shops can now only offer these animals if they come from animal shelters or 501(c)(3) rescues.
Prior to the new law, there were thirty-two pet shops in California. CAPS investigators went to all of them and traced their animals back to puppy and kitten mills. At the conclusion of our investigations, there were nineteen pet shops remaining. CAPS went undercover to see if these shops were complying with the new law. At three of California’s remaining pet shops, our investigators found them to be blatantly violating the new law, openly selling dogs from local breeders. We turned those stores over to the authorities. The other sixteen pet shops all claimed that their puppies were “rescue animals” from one of two rescues: Bark Adoptions or Pet Connect.
We have continued our investigations in California all throughout 2019 and will continue to expose consumer fraud at pet shops who are not abiding by the law.
In May, CAPS released a compelling 13-minute documentary that documents our five-year investigation of every New York pet shop – we went to more than 100 – and numerous puppy and kitten mills selling to them.
We spent a total of 5 years going undercover to investigate all of these pet shops and mills who supply them with their animals and shared what we captured with the world. CAPS began investigating all the pet shops in New York and the mills that sell to them for a project with the New York Attorney General. Then, we continued to work with the AG and worked closely with New York legislators to push to get S4234 and A6298 passed: state laws that would ban the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits.
Most of our investigations would not have been possible without our lead investigator: “Pete Paxton.” Earlier this year, Pete published “Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well.” In his book,
In the first half of the book, Pete discusses his undercover pet shop and puppy mills. Pete has conducted undercover investigations for animal protection groups, including CAPS, since 2001. Half of his investigations have been focused on animal mills — specifically puppy mills — and pet shops. The other half of his undercover work is focused on slaughterhouses, factory farms, and commercial fishing practices. Pete has had an exclusive look inside pet shops and puppy mills that not many others have the chance to do. This personal experience allows Pete to fully understand the connection between puppy mills, shelters, and dog rescues – which in turn, will help those looking to save a life and adopt a shelter or rescue animal.
In a chapter titled, “The Perfect Puppy,” he talks further on his first undercover investigation he did for CAPS at the largest puppy brokerage facility in the U.S.: Hunte Corporation in Goodman, Missouri – a questionable name for a town that is home to what was then the largest USDA-licensed dog brokerage facility in the country.
National City, California
CAPS President Deborah Howard worked closely with the city attorney for National City, California on an ordinance, passed on September 3, 2019, that prohibits the sale of pet shop puppies from fraudulent rescues by two pet shops: National City Puppy and Pups & Pets. Unfortunately, David Salinas, the owner of National City Puppy and four more Southern California pet shops who obtain their animals from puppy mills, sued National City over the ordinance and obtained a temporary restraining order, thus preventing the ordinance from going into effect on October 3, 2019. The ordinance still has yet to go into effect. CAPS will be working closely with National City to make sure nothing, and no one, gets in the way of making sure pet shops are working with legitimate rescues.
CAPS went undercover to investigate Puppy Kisses pet store in Danbury, Connecticut this past April. An eviction notice was posted on the door of this pet shop just days after police say dogs were sold “under false pretenses.” The owner’s of the pet store were two months behind on rent, not paying their employees, and in financial trouble long before the eviction notice came.
During our investigation, we found that several puppies at the store had signs of being sick, including two Bichons in pen number eight that had slight green mucus discharge from their nostrils, and a Poochon in pen number nine that had a raspy cough.
We were glad to be able to say another pet store closed down, thanks to our investigations, that would no longer give business to puppy mills.
In 2020, we will continue our undercover pet shop and animal mill investigations until puppy and kitten mills are a thing of the past. We will continue to work directly with legislators and government officials to bring justice to the animals who do not have a voice for themselves and make sure that laws protecting companion animals are enforced.
To help us continue our work and fulfill our mission, please consider donating to CAPS.