The Sarasota County ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats passed 3 – 2 Wednesday, January 27, after a very long day of testimony. Opponents testifying against the ordinance included numerous Amish breeders who came from Ohio, Petland franchise owners from Florida and other states, and Midwest brokers and breeders. CAPS President Deborah Howard testified in support of the ordinance. Her testimony dealt with CAPS’ evidence from our undercover investigations of The Hunte Corporation in Missouri, Gary Felts, who owns a puppy mill in Iowa and Virginia Obermiller, a kitten mill operator in Nebraska.
CAPS met with commissioners in April 2011 to propose this ordinance. Per the request of the county’s attorney’s office, CAPS provided a detailed legal memo that outlines Florida and federal constitutional law that supports the enactment of the county’s ordinance.
As the leader in the pet shop ordinance movement, CAPS was behind ordinances in West Hollywood, Glendale, Los Angeles and San Diego, California. Our Sarasota County ordinance draft was based on these ordinances. CAPS is also responsible for or assisted with ordinances in Illinois and New York.
The investigatory evidence we provided Sarasota County proved that breeders and brokers selling to Sarasota Petland are known puppy and kitten mills or obtain their animals from known mills.
CAPS stands behind the county in the enforcement of an ordinance – the owner of Sarasota Petland has already threatened to sue the county – as we have done with other municipalities. In Cook County, Illinois and New York City, CAPS provided legal expertise and pleadings that enabled these municipalities to successfully defend legal challenges to their ordinances.
CAPS Investigation of Hunte Corp. (broker to Sarasota Petland)
Why is CAPS so familiar with the brokerage industry, in particular The Hunte Corporation? A CAPS investigator worked at Hunte for six months and investigated some of the breeders selling to Hunte. We have two documentaries on our website:
Hunte Corporation – From Puppy Mill to Pet Shop
Undercover at the Hunte Corporation
CAPS Investigation of Dwayne Hurliman, a USDA-licensed dog breeder in Oklahoma (sells to Sarasota Petland via Hunte)
CAPS recently investigated Dwayne Hurliman’s USDA-licensed facility (1,000 adult dogs, 150 puppies) in Oklahoma. Hurliman’s mill had overcrowding, dogs too large for their cages, damaged, bent cages, fecal accumulation, and badly stained cage wire flooring.
The Hurliman report and video on our website:
Dwayne Hurliman Report
CAPS Investigation of Claudia Obermiller, a USDA-Licensed Cat Breeder in Nebraska
CAPS’ recent undercover investigation of Claudia Obermiller’s USDA-licensed facility in Nebraska (28 adult cats, 15 kittens) uncovered substandard conditions – untreated eye infections, stained floors, fecal and fur accumulation, and filthy litter boxes.
Sarasota Petland sells Obermiller’s kittens. She sometimes sells through Nebraska broker Pixie Pals (owner: Becky Busboom), a supplier to Sarasota Petland.
The Obermiller investigation report and video are on our website:
Claudia Obermiller Report
CAPS Investigation of Gary (Gerhard) Felts, a USDA-Licensed Dog Breeder in Iowa
CAPS’ recent investigation of Gary Felts’ USDA-licensed facility in Iowa (167 adult dogs and 30 puppies) revealed fecal accumulation and insufficient shelter from the elements. Felts told our investigator that he likes to get paid by cashier’s checks or money orders. Sarasota Petland sells Felts’ puppies. Felt’s broker: Pixie Pals. His veterinarian: Dr. Al Beukleman, a licensed dog breeder who also sells to Sarasota Petland.
USDA cited Felts for a number of serious violations between 2006 and 2009, fining him nearly $19,000 in June 2010, a sum the agency is still trying to collect despite a garnishment order in March 2015. Felts’ CVIs, signed by Dr. Beukelman, show the following: Felts is using the first name of Gerhard with a PO Box in Nebraska. Are these activities related to Felts avoiding disclosure of income that can be garnished by USDA?
The Felts investigation report, video, and USDA case documents are on our website:
Gary Felts Report
CAPS plans to use the passage of the Sarasota County ordinance as a springboard to more pet shop ordinances in Florida.