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Opinion: Patch 'I Heart Puppies' Gallery Hits a Nerve

Patch.com explodes with hundreds of comments following a recent photo gallery of an embattled puppy store.

I could hear the roar of voices from a block away as I walked toward Goldenrod along Pacific Coast Highway on a recent Saturday.

My assignment was to go to the "I Heart Puppies" Store in Corona del Mar that afternoon to take . This time it would be different from the previous orderly picketing, as the anti-vivisection group Band Of Mercy would be conducting the protest.

According to Carole Davis, the West Coast director for the Companion Animal Protection Society, these folks have a ”very in-your-face” style and everyone would be wearing black, symbolizing mourning the dead and tortured animals. As promised, a “shocker” it was. The closer I got, the louder the voices grew. Protesters carried signs, shouted, screamed and chanted in unison, all the while pointing at the store.

“Every dog bred means a shelter dog dead” and “We won’t give up,” they chanted loudly.

Quiet supporters brought along rescue dogs and observed from the sidelines. No one went in or out of the store. From inside the boutique next door, the intense volume was deafening. The customers and shopkeeper were pretty rattled by the commotion. Customers at a nearby Starbucks stared out the window, mesmerized. Drivers in passing cars gawked and some even honked. An unusual day for sure for the generally peaceful village of Corona del Mar.

When I checked the photo gallery the next morning, there were 26 comments, and I thought, “Wow that’s great, the most I’ve ever seen on Patch." Boy was I wrong. By the end of the day the comments had grown to more than 200 and, as of today, a few days later, the count seems to have settled at more than 500. Unbelievable. My editor, Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime, said at first she thought it was a glitch in the system. We were both astounded by the response.

There was no shortage of emotion in the comments. Some people were angry, some restrained, some philosophical and some attacking. The common thread among the voices was a passionate commitment to their beliefs.

Carole Sax:

"Google puppy mills, this is where this store gets their puppies, animal cruelty, loud & clear. Watch Madonna of the Mills on HBO, then let's see how you feel about this evil business. FYI, the breeding dogs are sold at auction for $1-$5 then the millers sell the puppies to the puppy brokers for $50, then the pet stores buy for $100-$250 then the morons pay $1500-3000. Why don't you save a life and give back to the world, will make you feel much better."

Jan Dykema:

"Studies show that less than one percent of shelter dogs were purchased at pet stores. That means 99 percent of them never enter a shelter door."

Animallover:

"NUTS!!! I have the solution - those of you who don't like capitalism, that feel Americans aren't entitled to the US Constitutional rights - then - just - LEAVE!!!! 
That's right - leave! You're of no value to the country!

Carole Davis:

"DJ: 
Getting a dog from a rescue org or at the municipal shelter is the only ethical choice when bringing a companion animal into your family. It's an adoption, not a sale. Learn the profit margins in the pet trade industry. Dogs are sold at auction to commercial breeders for $1 sometimes. The store sells the pups for over $2,000 here in SOCAL at one of these puppy mill front stores. The large brokers make a ton too. All blood money while the breeding dogs live out their lives in agony. You're on the wrong side of this moral issue.

If you want a show dog, go to a hobby breeder. Hobby breeders do NOT sell to creepy pet stores."

Carole Raschella:

"Interesting how the calm, reasonable posters on this comment list, the ones with facts to back up their statements, are the ones opposed to this demonstration. The ones screaming emotional rhetoric, often in LARGE CAPS, are the ones who support these radical rabble rousers."

What do you think about the emotions this story has stirred? Tell us in the comments.

lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:46 PM
these are quotes from people like Nicoal.. pets are like slaves.. isn't that what Band of Mercy says? and yet you continue to support them and think that somehow they are "on your side".. pathetic
Ken Johanson September 15, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Lulu - you've lost it! Stop posting things you know nothing about. These people have done a lot of research about the horrific puppy-mill abuses that I Heart Puppies profits from. This information is proven. Please stop wasting everyone's time with tangential, theoretical PETA writings & attempting to distract attention from the real issue. Whatever anyone's ultimate beliefs are about "the ownership of pets", that does not make I Heart Puppies innocent. By the way, people are entitled to their beliefs. Sometimes I think people who are against a peaceful protest must not have attended high school history class? Are you literate?
GiftofGalway September 15, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Lulu - thank you! Finally, someone who gets it. And b calvillo...so Jan is a breeder. I guess in your book that automatically makes her...what? Evil? A "puppy miller"? You poor brainwashed people. If this pet store was providing puppies from the kind of places you describe, they'd be out of business. You can't sell unhealthy puppies for long and stay in business. Makes no sense at all. And ken..."peaceful protest"? Did you read the article..."shouting, screaming...commotion...deafening..." Get a dictionary.
KC September 15, 2011 at 07:51 PM
What research? They posted a USDA 2008 report that corrected some things inthe kennel. This is 2011 and they are still open. I saw a video from you guys that didn't show anyrthing but implied much through captions. The video doesn't tell how much the dogs are excercised or if there were matts in the coat, etc. Only your words. Not wasting my time. I hope the readers will see these 'protesters' for what they are. This is not about the right to protest. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and to speak that opinion, but these people can just shout insults and repeat the same lies. This is not protesting as much as bitter abusive denunciation against legal licensed businesses in this country. This is about very scary groups who have gained power through lies, hidden agendas and exploiting animals and humans.
sylvie November 12, 2011 at 10:34 PM
KC, You sound a little angry and mostly uneducated. It's OK go get your mill dog from this store or another , you are free to do so. I would not stop you, rather let you know where the dogs come from. If your conscience is fine with it then you are the scary one. By the way I do not belong to a group but decided to add this protest to the list of very important items in my busy life. I never insult people that is not necessary, common sense is. Are you a breeder ? Their puppies are on sale, so I am guessing some people made their choice. They have lost support and not gaining any supporters. I wish you the best !

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