CdM Pet Store Targeted by Activists

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A new Corona Del Mar pet store, “I Heart Puppies” in business for less than a month has come under direct attack from animal-rights activists who want the store shut down unless the owners agree to stop selling puppies.

The groups have also made allegations about the store having sold a puppy from what it calls a “puppy mill” – allegation the store’s owners strongly dispute.

Carole Davis, West Coast Director of Companion Animal Protection Society also visited the store recently and, according to the store’s owners, had to be asked to leave the premises when a dispute erupted and a verbal confrontation occurred inside the store.  The store’s owners claim Davis ranted at them, calling them “puppy killers” among other things.  Police were not called at the time, but the owners of the store say they are now seeking a court restraining order against Davis and have notified her they are doing so.

The pet store’s owners also say they have received various threatening communications, including one from a man who bought a puppy from the store and after reading the local media coverage of the dispute threatened to “kill them legally.”

This incident was reported to the Newport Beach police, according to the owners of the store.

The business is the first pet store in Corona del Mar in at least a decade.  All three of the businesses owners, Suzanne and Brooke Bradford and Summer Gorjian, spoke extensively to the Newport Beach Independent exclusively Thursday morning at their store.

The owners of the store say they have no intention of closing their business, despite threats of protests at the store this morning and other threats and demands made by the two animal advocacy groups in letters sent to the store and shared with the Independent.

All three expressed outrage at the tactics employed by the animal advocacy groups.

Suzanne Brooke said, “I think this isn’t right. These people are entitled to their opinion and so am I and I am running an honest, legitimate business.”

She also said, “We are doing everything we can to sell puppies from reputable breeders” and “we would never knowingly do otherwise.”  She expressed her outrage that having done everything she could do to make sure the dogs she sells are healthy and come from breeders who treat their animals humanely, she has been singled out by these groups.

“I never expected this,” she said.

The controversy erupted early this month after a short feature article about the store’s grand opening by local online news website Corona del Mar Today.

Soon after, the organization known as CAPS – Companion Animal Protection Society – based in Massachusetts and the Animal Protection and Rescue League (APRL), based in Santa Ana, sent letters to the store demanding it stop selling puppies or face protests and other actions that they the groups said would be intended to put the company out of business if it refused to agree to the demands.

In the case of APRL, the group is demanding the store stop selling any animals.  When contacted by the Independent, Brenda Calvillo said she believes “puppies and dogs are not commodities,” and when asked specifically whether she or her group believed the store could comply with her groups wishes and still sell puppies she stated, “No.”

Carole Davis of CAPS did not respond to  a call and email left for her prior to publication of this article.


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  1. Patty, the article was fine and quite interesting. You are trolling here with your animal activist agenda which I find is despicable. You sound like another activist whacko that places the lives of animals over humans. The organizations mentioned in this article, APRL and CAPS are both violent and unreasonable in their actions.

    These animal activist organizations should not be tolerated as they actively intimate business owners and members of the public, at times with violence and confrontation. APRL and CAPS, please GO AWAY!!!

  2. It is obvious to any impartial reader that the author of this article is actively championing I Heart Puppies and its owner. It is obvious that the author made NO attempt to investigate whether or not the puppies for sale in the store come from “puppy mills” or from reputable (that is, caring and humane) breeders. The author accepts at face value the store owner’s version of events. He is satisfied that not getting through on one call to Ms. Davis of CAPS is sufficient effort on his part to excuse him from any obligation to seek out the truth and to report only verifiable facts. The author clearly has a bias for profits over pain and is defending “business” at all costs against any effort to hold I Heart Puppies accountable for promoting a practice that thrives on cruelty. Protests at the store will only be held in an effort to educate people about Puppy Mills and the sale of animals and how that practice condemns millions of innocent animals to death each year. Newport Beach is a wealthy community and therefore immune to much of the suffering in the world — even often dismissive of it. But surely there is some small bit of conscience and compassion still alive amidst the Ferraris and McMansions of the uber-rich, uber-tanned and uber-botoxed denizens of even that materialistic capital of consumption and instant gratification? Orange County has some of the worst animal shelters in the country. Adopting instead of simply buying a dog would help. The question is, can the author of this article and his fellow citizens only love what they pay money for? Or can they love a dog for itself; for no other reason than that it loves them?

  3. The bottom line is that people make their own choice whether to purchase a puppy or adopt.
    This is America! And no individual or organization has the right to harass another based on their opinion! I believe this is called ” bullying”. And they teach our children about it in school. This business has every right to be there. These activists need to spend their energy on something useful.. Like actually SAVING