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.