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.
"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."
"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."
"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!
"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."
"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.