Following weeks of public scrutiny and with a court hearing looming, I Heart Puppies in Corona del Mar now faces the prospect of picketers in front of its store Sunday.
The boycott/adoption rally is being organized by the Animal Protection & Rescue League. More than 100 people have confirmed they will attend the protest, according to Brenda Calvillo, the event's organizer.
"The goal of the rally is to stop the store from selling dogs from puppy mills, convert to a more humane model, educate the public about issues surrounding puppy mills and to promote adoption from shelters and rescues," Calvillo explained.
I Heart Puppies garnered attention last month, when the Companion Animal Protection Society, a nonprofit group, launched an investigation into the store July 5 following complaints from residents and assertions the store gets its puppies from Midwest puppy mills.
Store owner Brooke Bradford did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment for this story but has stated that she does not support illegal kennels or those with a history of problems with USDA requirements.
The CAPS investigation led to the temporary closure of I Heart Puppies while the store complied with safety regulations and considered demands from CAPS—which cited a USDA inspection report that says one puppy came from a Nebraska puppy mill where the breeder shot a golden retriever in the head—to put its animals up for adoption or risk being the target of a protest.
A request for a restraining order was also filed last month by Bradford against Carole Davis, the West Coast director of CAPS, according to court records.
Davis said she had contact with Bradford on only two occasions and said her actions were not done in a harassing manner. Davis would not say if she was going to attend the protest but did say CAPS supports it.
"We are assisting [APRL] in what we do by furnishing the local organization with investigative materials that they need to bolster their case against the store," Davis said.
Calvillo is asking protesters to bring video cameras, cell phones and cameras to document the day's activities.
"Orange County residents should attend because this store's business practices are unethical," Calvillo said. "Selling dogs from puppy mills adversely affects unsuspecting consumers who aren't aware of the dogs' origins."