4650 S Cleveland Ave
Fort Myers, FL 33907
Date and time of CAPS investigation: 08/21/21; 1639
Approximate number of puppies, kittens, and rabbits observed at time of investigation: about 10 rabbits, one kitten, and about 20 puppies
Puppies were kept in aquarium-like enclosures with glass walls and solid floorings covered in several inches of shredded paper. Food and water dishes, as well as toys, were in the enclosures, which contained one to two puppies each, though some were empty. There were about 20 enclosures in all. There were about seven enclosures for rabbits, being mostly glass aquariums, though one was a metal cage with a plastic flooring. The rabbit aquariums, having one to four rabbits each, had several inches of dried vegetation covering their floorings, food and water dishes, and plastic shelters for them to hide in. The one in the cage had similar conditions, with a water bottle attached to one wall. The kitten was in a cage with plastic floorings on two different levels the kitten could access. It contained a food and water dish, kitten litter box, towel, and several toys.
I spoke to an employee (Caucasian female, about 38 years old, 5’6″, 190 lbs, with long brown hair and wearing a red mask, who identified herself as Breeza) about breeders for the animals. Regarding puppies, she said, “So legally we can’t purchase from any puppy mills. All of the breeders have to be USDA licensed. They do inspect the facilities regularly.” She admitted knowing no specifics about kennels, but said I could probably look up individual facilities online, claiming, “they would probably have photos of their facility online.” She also told me, “So the USDA issues the licenses. And to issue the license they have to inspect the facility on a regular basis. But anything that has a puppy mill thing going on, they would get, you know, their license taken away.”
She told me the rabbits come from local breeders, and said she personally knows one of them. I asked for breeder info on the kitten, and she showed me paperwork showing the kitten was bred by Tammie Jones, 35499 Hwy D, Eldridge, MO 65463.
I then spoke to the owner, (Caucasian male, about 65 years old, 5’10”, 200 lbs, with short, balding grey hair and a blue surgical mask on, who identified himself as Jeff Tom), asking him to see breeder paperwork on a Shih Tzu puppy. He said he could get it, and he walked off for about two minutes, once coming back into my view, seeing me, and then turning around to disappear again briefly. He finally came back to me, with no paperwork, and said, “She’s a breeder we use. She’s a home breeder.” He offered nothing more, so I repeated back to him, “She’s a home breeder,” and he said, “Yeah, she’s in the Midwest. Registered. Yeah, and she, you know, she has just great dogs.” I asked if there was any information for me to google on the breeder, and he then offered for me to see the puppy.
I told him I wanted info on the breeder first, and again asked if there was any way for that to be done. He said to me, ‘Well I don’t know if she’s, she’s kind of an older woman. She’s kind of, I don’t know if she even has a cell phone. Kind of like this older lady, she does this for a hobby you know. She don’t get a lot of attention. It’s out on a big farm. Most of our breeders, we’re USDA licensed. So we try to stay, we use a USDA broker. But this woman came to us, and she said, “I hear you’re a good pet store. I don’t usually sell puppies to pet stores, but I like you guys.”’ I then asked if she’s USDA-licensed, and he said, “I’m not sure if she’s, I’m pretty sure she is, but you can look her up. Betty Fedders.” I repeated the name back to him, and he then spelled it out to me, saying, “It’s, F-E-D-D-E-R-S. I don’t know if she’s available. Like I said, she’s old school. But, she trusts us and I trust her.” When I asked if she was in the Midwest somewhere, he said that most breeders are, but wouldn’t tell me where the breeder he was describing was.
He then identified himself as the owner to me, told me his name, and explained, “The animal activists are trying to come after us, and you know, a lot of their stuff they show in their videos is like from the 80s. The propaganda for the puppy mills.”
Evidence of false statements and misrepresentations of breeders by store:
The owner’s claim that he buys from a breeder named Betty Fedders is very likely false. There is a USDA-licensed broker in Novinger, MO, with USDA license 43-B-3484 who is named Betty Fetters, but there is not known breeder named Betty Fedders.
Breeder information obtained while visiting the store
Tammie Jones, 35499 Hwy D, Eldridge, MO 65463
Breeder information obtained from 2021 Certificates of Veterinary Inspection
Betty Fetters, Novinger, MO, 43-B-3483, 100 dogs, 67 puppies at 1/4/22 USDA inspection