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."


"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:

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.

Carole Sax September 13, 2011 at 02:04 AM
I will say it again, "Google Puppy Mills." This store is a puppy mill front, puppy mill outlet etc. Puppy stores know how to lie to the public, all they care about is making money, they will tell you what you want to hear, that the puppies come from a house with a picket fence, they only have 5-6 breeding dogs that have one litter a year. But these idiots actually said they visited the kennels that their puppies are from and the cages were clean! OMG they are admitting that they don't care that the breeding dogs live their whole lives in a cage, never walking on grass or having human interaction, the cage is clean. How would you like it if your dog lived in a cage it's whole life, spinning in circles, going insane. The mill they use, shot a dog in the head, they claim she killer her puppies, she went insane from the life she was living. This store makes me sick!
Graeme Saunders September 13, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Interesting that Carole Davis & CAPS would bring in Nicoal Sheen and Band of Mercy and leave out the part about Ms. Sheen also being the Press Officer for the North American Animal Liberation Front a group considered domestic terrorist by the FBI & Homeland Security. Yes one is judged by the company one keeps.
sylvie September 13, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Well here is my only thought http://www.petshoppuppies.com/inspections/47A0426-2-24-10.pdf USDA report with infractions from Barb Crick breeder supplying I Heart Puppies. So shop here if you want to. I wouldn't because that's fraud, that's a mill with lots of viloations.
Robin September 13, 2011 at 05:50 AM
It's interesting to note that in today's post 9/11 homeland anyone can be made to appear as a domestic terrorist. Guilt by association can be applied to every citizen in the US, including yourself. Are you so pure and squeaky clean that there is absolutely nothing in your past or present that can't be misconstrued as some kind of domestic terrorism or that you can't be linked to it? You know, 6 degrees and all. Better ask yourself if you can be so sure. Just sayin'! PS, if you prefer to side with people that actively support the confinement, abuse, misery and neglect of mans best friend for money, what do imagine that says about you and the company you keep? It also begs the question, what other crimes do you also condone? Dr. King would have been locked up and tortured in Guantanamo in todays "Homeland." And I can picture you now.... (((U.S.A))) (((U.S.A))) (((U.S.A)))
Bella September 13, 2011 at 04:00 PM
The dogs need our voice. I am against selling dogs & cats in pet stores. This must stop to end the suffering of the mothers making babies for huge profits.
Paige Chandler September 13, 2011 at 08:14 PM
My daughter went into this store, and after finding the owners could not produce AKC papers on the dogs, we became very active in the protest. We then saw evidence, through CAPS, of how some puppies came to be at I Heart Puppies, and were lied to by the owners. We have become very active in this protest, and find many people still buying the owners' story of their claim not to support or buy from puppy mills. We are a family who dislike deceit very much, and will not tolerate it in our backyard!
b calvillo September 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Why Jan Dykema is defending these large scale breeders with numerous violations is suspicious, until you find out that Jan is a breeder in Northern California. Shut down the puppy mills down and stop breeding dogs in factories! The problem of killing 5 million animals every year must be approached at every level. The breeding dogs have a miserable existence to produce a cute product - ENOUGH! The people have spoken - we don't want a puppy mill outlet in our community.
Nicoal Sheen September 13, 2011 at 11:52 PM
I enjoy being a "radical rabble rouser" for the animals. And apparently a "domestic terrorist", too. If you call what I do as an animal activist "terrorism", I am truly not offended because I know true terrorism is what happens to billions of sentient beings everyday. I won't stop speaking out for the animals who are silenced by puppy-mill purchasing scum like I Heart Puppies. I am not afraid to speak by beliefs and I won't stop dissenting against what is morally abhorrent. At least I have a conscious and I know what I stand for. For all the animals abused, tortured, imprisoned and murdered inside puppy-mills, labs, factory farms, etc., you cannot silence me with an attempt to somehow "oust" my affiliation with the Press Office. I am proud to be a Press Officer and associated with such an amazing organization. However, good try.
Lorie Armbruster September 14, 2011 at 02:01 AM
I've never protested anything in my life until now. But the greed and the inhumanity of the puppy mills and the stores that buy and sell those puppies, such as I Heart Puppies, has compelled me to take action and speak up. So on behalf of the thousands of dogs that languish in metal cages for their entire lives, devoid of human kindness, forced to produce litter after litter until their bodies and spirit completely shut down, I'll rally with others to end the existence of puppy mills and those stores who keep them in business. And maybe those who hear us will also help save lives and shut down puppy mills and puppy stores by adopting their next dog from a shelter or rescue group.
KC September 14, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Nicoal Sheen - Band of Mercy - interview http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/08/17/ar-profile-nicoal-sheen/
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Band of Mercy gives Bold Native two thumbs up and cannot wait until the DVD release. Until then, "we've got some trouble to start". This from the Band of Mercy website. Robin you need to study up.. ALF was formed WAY before 9-11 and added to the terrorist list before then as well. what is morally abhorren to her is ANY use of animals including pets.. isn't that correct Nicoal? Isn't your end game total liberation of ALL animals? Doesn't that include the 'slavery" of pet ownership? Truth be known.. from their own lips.. this group want TOTAL ANIMAL LIBERATION.. I Heart Puppies demonstrationis a ruse to get public attention and to fool the few of you who think Nicoal really wants to help you have a nice shelter dog. It just is not so and if she is honest she will say so.
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:40 PM
"Owning animals is the equivalent of slavery." Hope Bohanec, In Defense of Animals, AR 2010. "Human care (of animals) is simply sentimental, sympathetic patronage." Michael W. Fox, Vice President Humane Society of the United States, "I certainly believe that we have a moral obligation to care for the dogs, cats, and other nonhumans whose existence we have caused or facilitated as part of the institution of 'pet' ownership. But I maintain that we ought to abolish the institution and stop causing or facilitating the existence of more 'companion' animals." Gary Francione, Opposing Views website.
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:42 PM
“Animals for the most part just need to be left alone." Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2008 "We should take good care of the domestic animals we have brought into existence until they die. We should stop bringing more domestic animals into existence." Gary Francione, Interview on Columbia University Press blog, June 18, 2008. "In a perfect world, animals would be free to live their lives to the fullest But it is also important to stop manufacturing "pets," thereby perpetuating a class of animals forced to rely on humans to survive." PETA pamphlet, Companion Animals: Pets or Prisoners?
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:43 PM
"Ina perfect world we would not keep animals for our benefit, including pets," Tom Regan,author of "Empty Cages" - "Our goal: ... to disavow the language and concept of animal ownership." Eliot Katz, President In Defense of Animals, In Defense of Animals website, 2001 "We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of "pet keeping"—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as "pets"—never existed. "surplus." This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering, which results from manipulating their breeding, selling or giving them away casually, and depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior. Their lives are restricted to human homes where they must obey commands and can only eat, drink, and even urinate when humans allow them to." published on PETA's website,
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:44 PM
For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship ­ enjoyment at a distance." Ingrid Newkirk, PETA "It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership." Elliot Katz, President "In Defense of Animals," "Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation." Ingrid Newkirk,
lulu la rue September 14, 2011 at 09:44 PM
"Liberating our language by eliminating the word 'pet' is the first step... In an ideal society where all exploitation and oppression has been eliminated, it will be NJARA's policy to oppose the keeping of animals as 'pets.'" New Jersey Animal Rights Allianiance "Let us allow the dog to disappear from our brick and concrete jungles--from our firesides, from the leather nooses and chains by which we enslave it." John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic Washington, DC: "The cat, like the dog, must disappear... We should cut the domestic cat free from our dominance by neutering, neutering, and more neutering, until our pathetic version of the cat ceases to exist." John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: "As John Bryant has written in his book Fettered Kingdoms, they [pets] are like slaves, even if well-kept slaves." PeTA's Statement on Companion Animals. "In a perfect world, all other than human animals would be free of human interference, and dogs and cats would be part of the ecological scheme." PeTA's Statement on Companion Animals. One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild ... they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening and pet them and then sit there and watch TV," Ingrid Newkirk,
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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