Activists targeting the I Heart Puppies pet store in Corona del Mar have employed undercover methods to secretly record their conversations with the store’s owners during a recent visit.
The owners allege those conversations were threatening and harassing and are seeking a restraining order against activist Carole Davis, West Coast director of Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS). A court hearing on that request is scheduled for Aug. 10.
In addition to Davis, Carole Sax, listed as CAPS’s Los Angeles volunteer coordinator on the group’s website, was present at the time the secret recordings were made. A source familiar with the recordings told the Newport Beach Independent that they were made without the knowledge of the owners of the pet store.
California wiretapping law requires the consent of both parties when the recording of conversations takes place in a situation where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. The definition of what is reasonable is to be decided by a weighing of the factual circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The law can be enforced through either criminal or civil prosecution.
When asked to comment about the secret recordings, Davis referred the Independent to San Diego-based lawyer and animal-rights activist Bryan Pease, who provided this statement:
“As Carole’s attorney, I’m advising her not to answer these questions, as the answers could affect how truthful the pet store owner is in her testimony seeking a restraining order. That said, you can expect that all of these facts will come out at the hearing August 10.”
Brooke Bradford, one of the owners of the CdM pet store, could not be reached for comment as of presstime.
Meanwhile, Cricks Kennels, a Nebraska dog breeder at the center of CAPS’s allegations about the CdM pet store, is the focus an investigation begun in late June by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service.
The investigation was prompted by repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act since 2008, according to USDA spokesman David Sacks. According to Sacks, the investigation stems from a letter of warning issued by the USDA to the breeder in March of 2008, not from any outside complaint made to the agency. That USDA letter of warning was obtained by the NB Independent.
Cricks Kennels has been licensed by the USDA for more than a decade. According to records reviewed by the NB Independent and to Sacks, the Nebraska dog breeder’s failure to comply with the 2008 letter of warning prompted the current follow-up investigation.
Although Sacks confirmed the investigation, he added that “nothing would be released until the case has been completed.”
Pet store owner Bradford has previously said her store had obtained only one puppy from Crick’s Kennels and has since stopped doing business with them.