The Dodo Video Showcases CAPS’ Investigation of California Pet Shops Selling Fraudulent Rescue Puppies

December 11, 2019

$1,800, $2,800, $3,900, even $6,500. These are examples of prices charged for “rescue” puppies by California pet shops investigated by the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS).  When you think of a “rescue dog,” you most likely aren’t imagining a purebred or designer 8-week old puppy in the window of a pet store in the mall. However, even though The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act (AB 485), which bans the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits, went into effect in California in January 2019, pet shops are still selling mill-bred puppies under the guise of being rescue dogs. CAPS investigated the 19 pet shops still selling puppies in the first quarter of 2019. Three were using local breeders. Sixteen, however, were selling puppies from fraudulent rescues. There are currently 11 pet shops in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties selling fake rescue puppies.

When CAPS’ investigators asked pet shop employees if the purebred and designer puppies came from breeders, almost all of them replied that these puppies came from rescue organizations. Not only is this a flat-out lie, but it is also consumer fraud. In one store, an investigator questioned why the price was so high if the puppies came from a rescue. A pet store employee replied, “Well, we get them from a premium rescue.” There is no such thing as a “premium” dog rescue.

The Dodo, the most widely viewed and read online animal publication, and CAPS have a partnership in which The Dodo covers the compelling work CAPS does on behalf of animals suffering in the cruel pet shop and puppy/kitten mill industry. The Dodo often makes videos using CAPS’ undercover footage. This time, The Dodo made an outstanding and engaging video that showcases our exposé Undercover with CAPS: An Investigation of California Pet Shops Selling Fake Rescue Dogs.

When you are in the mall and pass by a pet store, the cute puppies in the windows entice you inside, where there are more enclosure filled with small, adorable puppies. In the past, it would have been clear to educated consumers that these puppies came from mills. The pet shop and puppy mill industry, however, figured out a way to circumvent The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act by forming 501(c)(3) rescue organizations that obtain mill-bred puppies from two large brokers: The Hunte Corporation dba Choice Puppies in Goodman, Missouri and J.A.K.’s Puppies in Britt, Iowa.

Bark Adoptions in Menifee, California and Pet Connect Rescue in Joplin, Missouri are the two rescues whose names are seen on California pet shop cages. Amilcar Chavez, who owns Bark Avenue (formerly Escondido Pets) in Escondido and Bark Boutique in Temecula is behind Bark Adoptions, which obtains puppies from Rescue Pets Iowa. J.A.K.’s Puppies is the creator of Rescue Pets Iowa.

Last year, in anticipation of the California law being enacted, J.A.K.’s used another fraudulent rescue, Hobo K-9 Rescue, to sell puppies to Escondido Pets, Bark Boutique and Pups & Pets in Santee. CAPS investigated Hobo K-9 and gave this evidence to the Iowa Attorney General, which began an investigation. The CAPS and Iowa Attorney General investigations led to J.A.K.’s Puppies starting Rescue Pets Iowa in order to provide fraudulent rescue puppies to California pet shops. Hobo K-9 Rescue still sells puppies to Chicago pet shops that are circumventing that city’s retail ban ordinance.

When one of the CAPS investigators mentioned that Missouri is one of the most infamous states for puppy mills and have fake animal rescues, a pet shop employee falsely claimed, “But, you know, they’re rescues now. You’re still rescuing the dog.”  When you purchase a “rescue” puppy from a California pet shop (often with expensive financing that wouldn’t be available from a shelter or rescue), you are supporting the puppy mill industry.

The intent of The Pet Rescue And Adoption Act was to help homeless shelter pets find loving homes — yet pet shops are still more concerned with making a profit than with saving a life. We encourage you to think twice the next time you are looking to add a new companion animal to your family. Petfinder is an excellent online source for finding homeless animals who are at shelters and with rescue organizations.

CAPS will continue to call on Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, the sponsor of AB 485,  to amend the law by using the language CAPS drafted with the city attorney of National City, California. This ordinance, which passed in September, prohibits pet shops from having a monetary or ownership interest in the animals and from benefiting financially from adoption fees. It also prohibits pet shops from charging fees to rescue organizations and shelters for adoption events.

David Salinas, who owns five Southern California pet shops that source puppies from Pet Connect Rescue and Bark Adoptions, is suing National City over the ordinance. He also paid people to obtain signatures on a petition for a referendum on the ordinance. Salinas used dubious means to obtain these signatures, and some people have complained to National City that they thought they were signing the petition to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits or to stop “puppy trafficking.”