The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) has developed a pet shop campaign model for cities and towns around the country that uses the following integrated tactics.
Investigations of Pet Shops
We do undercover investigations of pet shops to determine compliance with state lemon laws, especially disclosure of breeder and broker information to prospective buyers and the posting of breeder and broker states on cages, and false advertising statutes. We try to obtain breeder and broker names so that we can investigate these facilities, most of which are USDA-licensed. If there violations, such as sick puppies, crowding, dirty conditions, we report these to the appropriate agencies.
CAPS has an online complaint form for consumers who purchased sick or dying puppies or were defrauded by pet shops. We educate them about their rights under the California pet shops laws and their legal options, such as taking the pet shop to small claims court. We use these complaints to obtain breeder and broker information for investigations. We may take out newspaper ads to find additional consumers.
Puppy Mill Investigations
CAPS then sends an undercover investigator to the breeders and brokers who provide puppies to the pet shops we are targeting. The investigator takes undercover video footage, which is edited by a professional editor, takes photographs if possible and writes in-depth reports in which the investigator documents Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. If the facility has serious violations, we report it to the USDA. We also use USDA inspection reports that document serious violations of the AWA.
We also present our documentary evidence from our investigations of the puppy mills to state agencies, cooperative humane societies, such as Animal Rescue League of Iowa, and local law enforcement. We report especially egregious puppy mill operators to the Missouri Attorney General’s task force, which is finally taking action against mills in the most notorious of puppy mill states. State advocates also use our evidence to support or defeat legislation that affects puppy mill dogs. Our evidence has been used for legislative work in Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma and Minnesota and was the impetus for the USDA’s Office of Inspector General’s scathing 69 page report on the failure of USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act with respect to commercial dog breeding and brokering facilities.
We gather intake, adoption and euthanasia records of shelters located in the target pet shop municipalities. We also look at the taxpayer cost to maintain these animals.
Pet Shop Protests
CAPS has developed a pet shop protest model which uses civilized protesting. We work closely with local police. For protests inside shopping malls, police provide protection so that our protesters are not arrested by mall security. We do not respond to taunts from employees or owners and don’t speak to customers unless they request information. We hand out brochures and leaflets to the public. Our protesters wear red tee shirts with our website on the back and a slogan on front, such as “Barkworks Sells Cruelty.”
Humane Store Conversion
Our goal is not to shut down pet shops, although sometimes that is the outcome. We want to convert pet shops to humane adoption centers that provide animals from local rescues and shelters.
We present all of our evidence to city councils, mayors, city attorneys and similar county officials along with a draft ordinance with detailed findings. We provide legal guidance if towns and cities want to change some of the language in the ordinance we have drafted.
Consumer Education and Outreach/Advertising and Public Relations
CAPS leverages the power of Public Service Announcements (PSAs), Social Media, and Media Relations to better inform consumers about the pet shop / puppy mill connection and their rights when purchasing a companion animal from a pet store.
View our current and past pet shop campaigns by clicking on menu to the left.