Puppy Protesters Take to the Street in CdM

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A woman cheers toward cars honking in support while protesting the I Heart Puppies pet store in Corona del Mar on Sunday. — Photos by Sara Hall

More than 100 protesters showed up in front of the I Heart Puppies shop in CdM last weekend, waving signs, chanting and singing, and cheering at cars that drove by and honked in support.

The group, led by the Companion Animal Protection Society’s West Coast director, Carole Davis, was protesting the sale of puppies at the store, urging the store owners to “go humane” and adopt out pets from local animal shelters instead.

Protesters displayed signs and t-shirts with a variety of messages like “Puppy Mill Misery Sold Here” and “Don’t Shop, Adopt!”

CAPS claims the shop sells puppies that come from a “puppy mill,” and many of their signs showed pictures of sick and injured dogs and dogs in small cages.

The store’s owners vehemently deny that the puppies they sell come from any such conditions, which are illegal, and that any breeders they use have clean, healthy and humane operations.

“I think it’s absolute slander,” said Summer Gorjian, one of the store’s owners. “They’re just making false allegations. … This is a legimate business. We do things by the book. … It’s not their place to tell us what to do with our business.”

The group stood along Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar from 1 to 3 p.m., waving signs at vehicles driving by. The LA-based organizers said about half of the protesters were from Orange County.

“We do not want to put them out of business,” Davis said, although she and several protesters carried signs urging that the store be closed if it didn’t change.

“They can do really well and have all of our support, if they go humane, and we will support them in that, absolutely,” Davis said. “The day that they go humane we will no longer be protesting, we will be shopping.”

Suzanne Bradford, another of the store’s owners, sounded a defiant note, saying, “I’m not going to quit. I have no intention of quitting … We’ll just keep going, doing things the best way we know how, taking care of our puppies, getting puppies from reputable breeders and sending beautiful puppies home with happy people.”

Davis spoke to the crowd and promised to be there every single week until something changes. The protest was the launching of a sustained campaign, she said.

This drew a retort from Bradford.

“I don’t think this community will tolerate that kind of disruption,” she said, “nor should they.”

Protesters marched in front and yelled into the shop while chanting, “Shame, shame, shame! It’s time to go humane!” At one point the crowd broke into a song with a familiar tune but with swapped lyrics, crooning “How sick is that puppy in the window?” toward the shop.

I Heart Puppies stayed open during the event and had a few customers and a number of supporters drop by. They adopted out one kitten during the two-hour period.

Employees passed out fliers and put signs in the window stating that the store did not support puppy mills.

Most of the pet store’s employees and supporters stayed indoors with a watchful eye on the crowd. A hired security guard stood near the entrance.

Employees occasionally stepped out to visit neighboring stores, take photos of the protesters and their signs, talk to police and later in the day placing a bicycle in front of their shop.

A few employees from neighboring stores also complained to police, and shops on the block reported a sharp drop in business.

Police maintained crowd control during the protest, even writing a few citations for jaywalking, according to one ticketed protester. No arrests were reported.

Eric Longabardi and Roger Bloom contributed to this report.

Columnist Jack Woo’s take on the protest is here.

A protester waves his sign in front of the pet store during Sunday's event.
Protesters wave their signs at vehicles as the drive by along PCH.
Carole Davis, Companion Animal Protection Society West Coast director, speaks to the crowd during Sunday's protest of I Heart Puppies.
A number of dogs were also in attendance at the protest, including these two therapy canines.
Protesters gathered in front of I Heart Puppies in Corona del Mar on Sunday.
A boy displays his sign in support of I Heart Puppies at the neighboring clothing store on PCH.
A protester pumps her fist as vehicles drive by and honk in support of their cause.


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  1. Sara Hall, nice write up, Thank You. Fantastic job yesterday to the 140 +/- people that were here in CdM that demand and support the humane treatment for animals, Thank You! It was a good day exposing the lies and the fraud that is I Heart Puppies. I can’t help but feel some sadness for that lone little boy bravely standing with his, ‘I love I Heart Puppies’ sign. I think of the day when he comes to realize that the adults in his life have lied to him all this time about where these puppies really come from. Talk about a trust breaker. He’s a very brave young lad.

    I would have been very interested in hearing Miss Bradford’s side but since she and the other IHP employee’s refuse to offer any comments what-so-ever, instead they take ‘the easy route’ and unfairly accuse any press that they’re bias against them…. Got Guilt, Miss Bradford? Lies to cover-up, perhaps? Don’t you think that if you were transparent about your business and named your suppliers and the names and states of the kennels/breeders where you get your products from, that we could check your sources for ourselves and come to some definitive conclusion of whether or not you’re telling your customers the truth or not? Produce your evidence Miss Bradford. What-ever in the world could you possibly be afraid of if indeed you do not use puppy mill breeders to supply your puppies? I for one would feel just awful if I found out that you and your store have been so wrongly accused of supporting atrocities against dogs. So Miss Bradford, what say you? Who are your suppliers and breeders and in what state do they reside? Name names! AND show us proof of all the times you have personally visited these breeders? Plane ticket receipts, rental car, hotel, etc. You have nothing to hide and you are proud of your business, right?

  2. Great article.. Showing the young boy in support of the pet store was a good piece. It shows that there is still a lot of educating the public that needs to be done. CAPS is great for that!
    The reality is that this is the ONLY way we are going to be able to stop the animal abuse that is flourishing in puppy mills. It is suprising that these women who own the shop did not go humane and deal with ONLY local breeders to insure where they come from. It seems money is more important then animal welfare in this case.

  3. The store “ADOPTED OUT A KITTEN”????????????? Ha! What kid of slip is this? This store is SELLING KITTENS, not “adopting”!!! You don’t get to have it both ways. I could go in there and plop down mopney and trust me, no questions would be asked about what I want to do weith that kitten! Give me a break.

  4. Wow!!! Bless these inspired people proclaiming the truth! I wish I could have been there, and am honored to add my comment of support here. All of my animals, 2 dogs, 2 horses and a cat are rescues. The horses were on their way to slaughter and the dogs were repeat shelter returnees. All would have been killed if I, or someone else, had not stepped up. For every puppy mill dog sold at least 5 lives are tortured or killed. The breeding parents, the siblings who don’t survive and the one in the shelter who gets killed. My dog and I have a flash mob touring the US for Pet Adoption. We would love to come flash with you. Bless you all. Keep the protests coming 🙂

    Megan Blake and Super Smiley

  5. when it comes down to she said/she said.. the community needs to use common sense. who is most likely to charm you and lie to you: a compassionate volunteer with investigation & documentation behind them, or a store owner who chooses to need your dog buying thousands to pay their bills? this store knows that people are not stupid and they are using tactics like producing a single kitten up for adoption in their store today. they know that one humane act makes their business appear to be telling the truth. they also know that one kitten for”adoption” will in no way hinder their dog sales. the body pile up of dead shelter animals is 1/2 million YEARLY in CA. So, why are people still buying the puppies of freshly bred dogs????


    • Chad, just stop making things up. Ridiculous. The subject we are talking about here is the way dogs are treated in puppy mills. It is typical of those involved with pet stores to try and shift focus on to some other unrelated issue; it is what you people always do. Where in your post about this new story is your refuting of the store’s support of puppy mills? Why have you launched into the issue of veganism instead of showing evidence that the protesters are wrong in their accusations about the store? (All that’s needed is proof that the store owners aren’t working w/ puppy mills & the protesters would be gone in a heartbeat. It’s as simple as that. Obviously that proof DOESN’T exist so you are grasping at straws). So you just change the subject & start pointing fingers at someone eating turkey? Absurd. If veganism is so important to you, I think that is a cause you should take up. Do some research into how the turkeys the person you mention was eating, get some damning footage of said turkey farm, & then you will have a cogent argument. Until then, you are just trying to shift focus off these cruel, uncaring, greedy storeowners who are taking advantage of Corona del Mar ignorance about puppy mills and the pet store industry. And it won’t work.

    • I also find it fishy that “Chad” was not only able to examine & identify all three ingredients of a stranger’s sandwich, but also to deduce that it was “low fat”. Chad, people making stories up need to learn the first rule of doing so: Keep a lie simple! (Did the protester open up the slices of bread for you to make notes of each ingredient in her sandwich & then show you her receipt to prove the turkey she’d selected was the “low fat” version? Not very believable, Chad.)

  7. Great article, fabulous turnout yesterday speaking up for the voiceless. This store is guilty of fraud, lying to the consumer. When you buy a puppy you are supporting the cruel puppy mill industry and breeders that only care about money. Actually that is all Ms. Bradford cares about, because if she cared about animals she would go to the shelter and save some lives. Corona Del Mar better get use to protesters every weekend until this store goes humane. Local breeders are no better than the midwest, check out Riverside puppy mill hell, a min pin backyard breeder with 90 dogs, one dog has his eye hanging out, they were drinking pee water, rotten teeth. Lancaster, Kern, Riverside, San Bernardino full of puppy mills. Humane is rescue only, shelter dogs or sponsor a rescue group.

  8. These activist protesters are total nutjobs and their cause it not worth the publicity given to them in these news articles. Their fringe agenda and their economic terrorism is not welcome in Newport Beach or anywhere for that matter.

  9. Wow, Ryan, i guess you are en expert on everything. Must be nice to be you. (The idea that people making money off animals also must be required to treat them with respect is something that you consider “fringe”. What an odd & disturbing statement. I fear for any dog or cat or goldfish that you might own?) Also, the city council of Los Angeles is currently crafting a city-wide ban on pet stores like the one you are so bizarrely enamored with & the same thing happening in O.C. is just a matter of time. It is ignorant to claim that a concept endorsed by the conservative city council of the 2nd largest city in the country is “fringe”. Pick up a newspaper sometime!

  10. Sarah Hall, thank you for covering this story.

    There is much information that led to this protest/boycott. I have sent you and Roger Bloom (privately) the investigative questions to ask Ms. Bradford. The more you dig, the more you will find. Follow the money. Find the broker. Check his license!

  11. Ryan..I am a taxpaying native born citizen of Newport.. and I beg to differ.. Protesters are very Welcome here!!. use your intimidation else where…this store is fraudulent liars and victimizing citizens, visiting patrons, and disgracing our city… People thank us for being there and the opinion of your ignorance is no challenge for our constitutional right to be there or to provide documentation and evidence this business gets puppies from horrific breeders that are violators of federal laws… Our great country provides freedoms where justice can be sought for those that break our laws and our speech is one of them…This store and its breeders are breaking California and United States Laws and your complacentcy contributes to its unlawfulness.. You dont have the integrity to speak for all the citizens of this city that work so hard to make it such an ethical and beautiful place to live..

  12. We can all sit here and argue about where their puppies come from.. whether they think they are coming from reputable breeders, or we think they are coming from puppy mills…

    OR we can focuse on the cold hard facts. These numbers speak for themselves on why this business nor ANY store SELLING puppies should be allowed to operate in Orange County.

    Statistcs for our ORANGE COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER for 2010
    (source: http://egov.ocgov.com/ocgov/Info%20OC/Departments%20&%20Agencies/OC%20Animal%20Care/Shelter%20Statistics):

    Dogs EUTHANIZED: 3,771 (or 10 dogs per DAY)
    Cats EUTHANIZED: 9,951 (or 27 cats per DAY)

    NO STORE IN ORANGE COUNTY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO SELL ANIMALS FOR PROFIT UNTIL THIS NUMBER IS ZERO. Plain and simple. Not only are healthy, adoptable animals being killed, but taxpayers money is being spent to house, feed, and then needlessly kill these animals.