Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Round-A-Bout Rallies

Puppy Mill Awareness Plans Round-A-Bout Rallies
Advocate group wants consumers to think twice about buying a puppy from a pet store this holiday season. Find out why these stores are listed in the Michigan’s Pet Store Hall of Shame.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23, 2010
CONTACT: Pam Sordyl, 734-718-7100, leroybrown01@yahoo.com

GENESEE, MACOMB & OAKLAND COUNTIES, Mich. – Starting Friday, November 26th, 2010, the Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup will conduct a series of rallies in front of puppy-selling pet stores around and about southeast and mid Michigan. The focus of the rallies is to warn customers in various neighborhoods about the cruel conditions in puppy mills and their link to pet stores.

Many families purchase puppies at pet stores as Christmas gifts and quickly discover health problems due to neglect, inbreeding and over-breeding in puppy mills. They may face significant veterinary bills or even the death of their puppy without understanding why.

Pet stores will tell customers that they do not buy puppies from puppy mills, but only mass-breeding facilities can fulfill the enormous demand for retail store puppy orders. Responsible breeders won’t sell dogs to pet stores for resale.

Puppy Mill Awareness is asking Michigan pet stores, to agree to the following:
· Stop selling animals acquired from breeders in their store(s) or on the Internet.
· Agree to transfer, sell or retail only dogs that are "rescued," coming from animal shelters or 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue groups—not from Craigslist or other retail websites.
Agree to make these changes in every other business in which the store may have an interest, either currently or in the future.

Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup has already asked each of the following pet stores to stop selling puppies, and will conduct rallies in front of the stores at the following dates and times. Participants will be given signs – all they need to do is show up to get involved.

Twelve Oaks Mall, 27750 Novi Rd, Novi, MI
Nov 27-28, Dec 18-24
Weekdays 3-7 p.m., weekends time vary

The Family Puppy
Genesee Valley Center, 4340 B Miller, Flint, MI Nov 27-28, Dec 4, 11, 18-23
11-3 p.m.

19100 E. 10 Mile, Eastpointe, MI
Nov 26-28, Dec 4-5
Weekends 12-3 p.m., Weekdays 5-7 p.m.

Greenwood Pets
13983 E 9 Mile Rd, Warren, MI
Dec 9-11, 16-18
Weekends 12-3 p.m., Weekdays 5-7 p.m.

World Gardenland,
29800 Gratiot Ave, Roseville, Mi
Dec 22-24, 28-30
Weekends 12-3 p.m., Weekdays 5-7 p.m.

Learn more about Puppy Mill Awareness

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a Puppy Mill Awareness member, please contact Pam Sordyl, at 734-828-1400 or leroybrown01@yahoo.com.

For publication purposes, please print the following information: http://www.meetup.com/detroit-puppy-mill-awareness/about/.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Petland Westland Closes It's Doors After 5 Months of Steady Protests

If you were not one of the 60 protesters who helped us closed down Petland Westland last month, you can still appreciate this blog and will want to join us now in Novi to take on the last Petland in Michigan!

Sending out the photo of the “This Petland Location is closed” was probably the highlight of the entire year for me. Our investment in this Petland paid off and will continue to pay off as we move forward into other neighborhoods. With the closer of another Petland, we not only have less mill dogs sold in Michigan, but we received more media attention from it. Check out Hometownlife’s 3-page article published yesterday about our Petland campaign and more.

Who started all of this?~

Many of you may not be aware of just how long and how hard we worked at this boycott. It started in January of 2009. The HSUS had completed their investigation of Petland and were launching a series of rallies across the country “Ask Petland To Stop Selling Puppies”. They loaded us up with literature and signs. Since they did all the work, why wouldn’t we protest Petland Westland? Then we discover a group in Sterling Heights who set up rallies at that location. It closed a month later. We all won’t forget Katie, the Sterling Heights employee, who challenged our cause and later joined us with her uniform. That was priceless.


Once the HSUS stopped scheduling protests, we didn’t hesitate to keep going. We made bigger and better signs and kept the party going all summer. We even had our 2009 Puppy Mill Awareness Day event – Memorial Rally - there to draw media attention. Then we kept the party going all fall when Channel 7’s Heather Catallo, exposed the Petland Novi store. We were able to include our Westland rallies and the local shelter, HSHV, in her second story of the Petland Novi store. With all the media attention in Novi, we decided to hit the Novi Petland hard for the holidays. We did meet with the Twelve Oaks Mall Management prior to the Channel 7 story running and launching or protests. Amy also delivered a letter to the new store owner asking him to stop selling puppies. Randy Horowitz is the guy now on our radar.


We took a break at Petland Westland in January and February while we pounded Novi with more protests. During that time we had discussions about how to be most effective at Petland Westland. We need to reach out behind the sidewalk and contact organizations in the city. We notified the Chamber of Commerce, and Animal Control. No help there. Everyone voted we keep going with the protest starting in the spring. I learned from a group in California that rallying every Saturday for 6 months straight with at least 10 people is the best approach. Saturdays are their busiest day of the week. So that is what we did. We hit them EVERY Saturday for 5 months through August. During this time we had more help from the HSUS’s campaign. They ran their investigation through Animal Planet. That really fueled our rallies and gave us more to show the public. We also issued a Press Release exposing their main broker Abe Miller. In 2010 we started drawing in more sick dogs cases- a total of thirteen just from our rallies. There were over 30 complaints collected in total form other agencies. We were able to provide the families a list of places to file complaints and then added them to our long list of online complaints. We kept their BBB rating at an F! After the hot August rallies, we decided to take a break so we could kick-off The Family Puppy Campaign in Flint for PMA Day. While everyone was ready to come back to Petland Westland for the holidays, we quickly found out they were waiting for us to leave so they could close their does privately.

Novi Petland~

Please join us in Novi for the Holidays!!! The last standing Petland has two choices: go out to business or switch to adoptions only. We already have the holiday rallies on the calendar.

Pet Store Owner Goes to Jail

On October 28th, 2010 my clients (the dogs) won again! Joe Yaquinto was sentenced to 20 months in prison without bond. With our letters and attendance at the hearing, Judge Talon did not hesitate to restrict Joe from working with animals on parole!

Dani, who purchased two sick puppies from Joe, testified she found Joe through an advertisement on Petfinder.com. She had a business card for Sporting Dogs Unlimited that matched Exhibit 1 – a website photo. They played a recording of her conversation with Joe where he states he is no longer on Petfinder, but now using Hoobly, Kijii/Ebay, Adopt A Pet and a lot of other sites. He also told her he was still interested in her designing him a new website. Dani did a great job on cross examination, we are very proud of her for representing the other 11 victims who have reported purchasing sick dogs. He tired to suggest Becky Miller owned the entire operation and that Joe did not know how to use a computer. Dani stated she and Joe looked up a dog at a shelter and he was operating the browser etc.

Joe also testified. He stated that Becky Miller worked with him and was the owner of the entire operation. She allowed him to board his dogs there. She did not make the website, rather a lot of volunteers helped him post pictures. He named Ashley Gardner. Stated he and his volunteers went to shelters to pick up dogs, sometimes they were rescued from divorce and foreclosure situations. He would take them to the vet and get them all vaccinated, neutered and spayed. He never adopted out an unaltered dog unless they were under 6 months of age. He was not aware of any complaints. He mentioned a rescue broke his window in his truck but he did not report it. He received anonymous calls to his house. He said that Dani offered to make the website for $600 but he felt it was too high and said no. Later, on tape the Judge relistened to the part where Joe said, yes, he wanted the website.

Joe claimed his site did not have dogs listed for adoption. It had his name and number. The attorney asked him if he was just posting this for funzies? Why would he have this out there if he was not adopting out dogs? This story wasn’t adding up. He stated he has sold hundreds of dogs. When asked who posted, he said Ashley Gardner. They were not removed because no one had the pass code…she lost it. He did ask her to remove them 5 months ago. He did not report this to his Probation Officer. The Judged asked him how did he posted cars for sale when he owned the dealership? He said his admin did it for him and he doesn’t know a thing about how to use a computer.

Joe started his career as a dog flipper back in 2006. He told the judge he picked up dogs off the street in Detroit -only the ones running loose in the city. He gave them away for free after seeing a vet. The Judge asked him how he financed this? He said his volunteers pitched in on gas and the vet gave him a great deal $49 per dog. Cheap.

According to Joe, Sporting Dogs Unlimited began in 2006 made of up all volunteers (note some were paid wages in cash). He was helping Becky out by cleaning the floors with bleach, bathing dogs..etc. This is when she offered him space in her boarding kennel. Some dogs were sold for profit to offset the cost of the ones for free. When the Judge asked him was there financial benefit, he said it is an absolute looser (referring to rescuing dogs).

He sated that he never threatened anyone over the phone and did not impersonate a police officer. The judge wanted to listen to the audio tape again showing that Joe agreed to have Dani set up a website.

A print screen of another page of his website showing an email address and a phone number belonging to Joe was submitted as evidence. 248-249-3544 and sportingdogs15.com.

So the arguments against him were as follows:
Failed to pay restitution in a timely manor.
Was in a position of trust at Sporting Dogs Unlimited -Manager.
Contract showing his signature and phone number.
Business Card and website.
He was operating a website and had knowledge of it.
Admitted on audio tape that he wanted Dani to create a website for him.

The website was by Ashley Gardner.
Never had the password to access the emails. Never updated it.
No proof he was on the internet.

The Judge stated the rules of evidence don’t apply to this hearing. He is most concerned about Joe being in a position of trust and having a website. He referenced notes from Judge Sullivan who clearly felt Joe should not be in a position of trust. It is now a credibility issue. Being 57 years old and a prosecutor for 25 years he has lots of experience working with people. In this case he relies on his personal experience and common sense. He has been lied to by witnesses all the time.

“Frankly, I don’t believe you! You hide behind a curtain that others are behind this despite it was your number. Whether you set them up yourself is not he issue. I find the people have proven more than 50%. Even your own testimony put you in a position of trust. I am not making any decisions related to the puppies sold. Finding you directly on the use of the internet, in this business endeavor you were involved in.” – Judge Talon

“You have an excuse for everything and only if it is a positive nature and I don’t’ believe you” – Judge Talon.

“You are in violation of probation. Order judgement of guilty” – Judge Talon.

Probation guidelines were 5-23 months in prison. After adding up all of his points from 6 priors, the judge allowed Joe to speak again.

“I totally, totally, totally, apologize to the court, you and the staff. I am sorry.” – Joe Yaquinto.

Joes criminal record goes back to 1978 with misdemeanors, but his real criminal history began in 1990.

“You feel the rules don’t apply to you” – Judge Talon.

1990 – larceny by conversion. Did not show up for jury trial.
2004 - Larceny by false pretenses.
2005 - larceny by conversion.
2006 - Motor Vehicle – False Title
2006 – Odometer tampering

“You are taking advantage of people and not learning your lesson. Judge Sullivan was trying to protect the public. You were in the position of trust that Judge Sullivan did not want you to be in. The court can be mad or afraid of you. We are clearly mad. This can be for punishment, to deter others or keep you form harming people or retribution. You have great people skills that make you a con man. Probation is not approved. It is time to be imprisoned” – Judge Talon

Min term 20 months
Credit 24 days
Pay Kennel Lamb $
Pay Court Costs
Not allowed to work with animals.

If you are interested in saving the dogs that were taken from Tail Waggin Fun on October 7th, some are now up for adoption at the Macomb County Animal Shelter. Many more will be posted soon (Total 19). Please cross post and help get them out of that place…it is very sad and they don’t look healthy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beware of Brighton Township Puppy Mill Broker

Puppy Mill Awareness is warning the public to think twice about buying a puppy as a gift for the holidays.

Yesterday consumers filed more complaints with the Brighton Township Planning Department against Terry Adams of Parkside Builders in Brighton Township for selling puppies out of his pole barn without a license.

Parkside Builders is located at 4413 Kenstington Road, in Milford, Mich. There is no registered kennel or pet store at this address.

Shoppers who call in response to Mr. Adams’ ads in local papers are told to bring “cash only” and that they can pick up a registered AKC puppy by appointment.

“Once we entered the building I was astonished by the amount of puppies in cages!” said Dena Awdish, from West Bloomfield, Mich. who visited the breeding facility. “I told my husband that these were ‘puppy mill’ pups and wanted to leave but he insisted on seeing the pugs and letting our daughter pick one. There had to have been 30 - 40 different pups, and about 15 different breeds but no parents anywhere. The pups were in wire cages and had no bedding whatsoever.”
The advocacy group Puppy Mill Awareness has been investigating this business operation for a year and recently received a complaint regarding a sick Pug, named Hogan, who was purchased last month. A Puppy Mill Awareness investigation revealed that Mr. Adams is operating without a business license, is not currently zoned for commercial sales and is performing veterinary procedures without a license.

Puppy Mill Awareness observed puppies housed in Mr. Adams’ garage including Maltepoos, Papillons Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Cavelier Spaniels, Yorkie-poos and Shihtsu mixes.

Mr. Adams told Puppy Mill Awareness that he works with breeders in Indiana, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Howell, Fowlerville and Traverse City. Currently, however, there are no USDA licensed breeders in these cities. It is illegal for a breeder to sell to a pet store (wholesale) without a USDA license.

“We are most concerned that Mr. Adams is part of the puppy mill pet trade and operating without any license or inspections,” said Pam Sordyl, Director of Puppy Mill Awareness. “The puppies are not receiving Health Certificates by a certified vet, meaning they are more likely to become ill at these young ages. Without proper shelter and health care one sick dog likely means many others are falling ill.”

“If you can not see the breeding dogs onsite, it is time to leave,” Sordyl continued. “This should be the first red flag when contacting anyone selling puppies online or in the classifieds. With the poor economy, many people who have no experience with animals are trying to make a buck in the pet trade. Don’t be fooled by cute puppies.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mt. Morris says no to Puppy Mills!

On June 8th,2010, Cherie Lane of My Puppy Paradise sold a very ill Pomeranian puppy. It was reported that the puppies from that litter looked lethargic. The pom was later diagnosed with parvo – a deadly virus. The township was notified of the situation and investigated the facility.

On June 29th, local Animal Control found over 50 dogs on the property. Cherie Lane was ticketed for not having them licensed. This meant that they likely did not have their rabies vacations. Vet information was not provided. The Zoning Officer cited her for having more than 3 dogs violating the township ordinance.

In July, Cherie not only lost her small claims court case over the parvo puppy, but she was evicted from the rental property in Mt. Morris Township.

On Monday July 26th, Cherie Lane, paid her $300 to the Mt. Morris Township Zoning Board which would allow her to seek approval to keep more than 3 dogs. The Township notified the neighbors who showed up for the review meeting on August 12th. We had already reached most of them with our petition.

Just after paying her fine, she was evicted by the rental property owners: Claudine & Wilson Desilva for not paying her rent. This meant she no longer needed to speak with the board. We took the opportunity to let the board know that the neighbors did not want dogs left out in kennels for breeding. We have asked the property owners to ban pets from the kennel for a year to protect them from the virus still on the property.

On August 7th, the kennel operation moved out in a hurry leaving the house filled with debris, filth and property damage.

On August 16th, the Zoning Board heard several neighbors concerns regarding the welfare of the animals housed in this kennel. They were concerned about the cleanliness, leaving them out at night subject to weather conditions and the smell. One neighbor was worried about how many times the dogs are bred and did they have air conditioning. The Board also received a letter from the commercial property owners across the street opposing the request. On top of our petition the board made the right decision.

Her motion was denied.

Going forward the owners or renters of this kennel will have to plea their case to the Zoning Board.

Mt. Morris says no to Puppy Mills!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What to do if you purchased a sick puppy

I developed a guide for Michigan residents and families who have purchased a sick puppy from a pet store or breeder. Since we have been hosting rallies every Saturday at the Petland Westland, we have been meeting families with sick dogs just about every weekend. I decided to put together a checklist based on some things they already did on their own and other activities I have come across while researching pet stores and puppy mills.

It is terribly frustrating for them when the pet store owners will not return phone calls or speak with them in person while they watch their new puppy struggle with issues.
Sick puppies are usually a result of mass producing puppies for the pet trade. Many families discover that their new family member is plagued with serious illnesses or genetic problems soon after their purchase – some experience problems long after the purchase.

Although there are no Michigan Puppy Lemon Laws to protect consumers, there are many things that can be done from filing complaints to getting the word out. The checklist contains Michigan specific contacts but can be easily tailored for other states and animals such as kittens and small mammals, birds, fish, etc.

If you have purchased a sick puppy or know someone who has, please forward this guide to them and have them contact me.

Download (includes “go the extra mile”)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

St. Clair Commissioners Invite Puppy Millers to Set up Shop

Last night the St. Clair County Commissioner Bohm, stated “Less is more” when it comes to the Dog Kennel Ordinance. Was he speaking for all the Commissioners? Who would ever think less could possibly be more when there are large commercial breeding operations churning out puppies for profit in their backyards. The county needs standards that are enforceable.

St. Clair County has 7 kennels allowed to have over 50 dogs. There is one USDA breeder with 122 dogs!

The easiest standard to enforce is a limit on the number of dogs. Commissioner Simasko again stated that there was no need for a cap and a kennel can have as many dogs as they want, as long as they are cared for.

No cap equals an invitation for puppy millers.

Were the breeders and Commissioners really proud of the way this ordinance was developed? It was introduced on May 12th with no public publication. Little input was collected at the meeting and one Commissioner, Simasko, filtered all comments. All work completed at prior workshops starting in January was simply left out. If you were not there on May 12th prepared with your input, it was left out.

After careful review of this new ordinance that was templated from Jackson County and proposed by a breeder, there are some major oversights. Has anyone really read it? First, there is a Grandfather clause, meaning, the existing 38 breeding kennels will not have to adopt it. Since there is no current ordinance officially published or adopted, what will they follow? It would be easier if all kennel followed the same ordinance. Give the existing kennels a year to comply.

Second, they were no kennel inspections mentioned. After this was pointed out, Simasko did add annual inspections.

Is this ordinance ready for approval? Too many major oversights. Not to mention the 30 plus items left out from the workshops prior to Simasko taking the project over.

  • Missing a Inspection Fee Schedule.

  • Does not include standards for adequate care, such as feedings at least once a day, fresh potable water, cleaning on a daily basis.

  • Does not include standards for adequate and comfortable housing, such as, type of flooring, stacking of kennels, sufficient space, ventilation, protection from predators or pests, heating and cooling, access to outdoor runs, suitable drainage, and adequate lighting.

  • Does not limit the number of intact dogs a kennel can have.

  • Does not limit the number of dogs allowed in a kennel run.

  • Does not limit how many litters a dog can produce.

  • Does not require a veterinary to perform debarking, tail docking and surgical births,
    Does not require a veterinary to euthanize an animal.

  • Does not include Pet Stores that sell dogs. The MDA is no longer licensing as of August 2009.

I spoke up for the dogs and left a book filled with rescued dogs from their mills along with the PD Kennel USDA inspection report showing repeated violations. The next questions are going to point to the Animal Control Inspectors. How are these kennels passing?

The ordinance still needs to have full board approval. St. Clair County dog lovers need to contact their Commissioners to ensure breeding dogs are protected.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Puppy Friendly Pet Stores

Over the past four months we have toured all corners of the Southeast Michigan Area, including Flint, asking pet supply stores to pledge not to sell puppies. Our initial goal was 40 stores to earn a press release.

After 7 counties, 35 cities later, drum rooooooll…..we have approximately 98 store pledges!

With Pet Supply Plus’s network of stores, we exceeded our goal and also all the other states! Thank you to everyone who participated in this project: Christine White, Sunday Harvey, Cathy Tingley, Jeanie Bay, Molly Tamulevich and Leann Earns.

We have asked the following “puppy selling” stores to take the pledge or stop selling puppies:

The Family Puppy/Family of Pets
Petland Westland
Petland Novi
Utica Pet Supply
World Gardenland Sea World
Greenwood Pets & Plants
Shaggy Dog
Barking Babe Boutique

The Michigan store owners and managers who signed The HSUS' pledge received a sign proclaiming, "We love puppies; that's why we don't sell them," to display in the store, as well as free materials for their customers. We encourage shoppers to purchase pet supplies at stores displaying the puppy-friendly sign.

If you would like to go further, you can choose to shop at stores that refuse to sell any live animals. These stores have been identified and will be highlighted on the HSUS website and our Meetup. To easily find one in your area, just type in your zip code on this site. I have made sure our local animal free stores are in their database.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Animal Planet Exposed Petland - Hooray!

We love Animal Planet!!! If you were excited about the Petland episode – let’em know. Hopefully there was so much interest in the show, they will run it again.

Did everyone tune in last night? Pat and I both chuckled when the savvy Petland Manager went on and on about how they go beyond state regulations. He even looked like a slick salesman. However, what can really confuse the public are the young salesgirls who either don’t seem to have a clue or were trained with a script.

Why would the Sheriff protect the breeders? - a missing link in the pet trade. This happened to us at the Ohio Dog Auction. We were not wired with a camera or even attempting to do undercover. We were asked to leave because of the looks on our faces, I suppose. I can relate to Mike being nervous without the police on his side.

Another missing link are the vets. Although they are making tons of money having a constant flow of sick dogs, their staff must be overwhelmed like the DVM stated in the show. How can these vets see so many victims (breeding dogs, families, puppies…) and not take a stand?

I was not only thrilled about the show, but proud to see so many Meetup Members getting the word out about the show at Petland Westland on Saturday and Monday. Everyone’s signs and enthusiasm pumped more fuel into the campaign.

We need to make sure Animal Planet keeps running this show. You can contact them online or send a letter.

33. How can I contact you with programming comments or questions? We welcome your e-mail comments and questions, which you can send to us by clicking here.

This is the most efficient way to contact us. Comments or questions directed to anyone else at Discovery Communications will be forwarded to Viewer Relations, which means it will take us longer to follow up.

You can also write to us at:
Discovery CommunicationsViewer RelationsOne Discovery Place5th FloorSilver Spring, MD 20910

Friday, May 7, 2010

Laura Springborn's Hearing

First blog post!

Assuming my Monthly Letters are not enough, I thought I would start sharing some of my “stories from the road”. I have been all over South East Detroit visiting pet supply stores and now attending Linda Springborn’s hearings. This is where we start learning about prosecution and the laws surrounding our breeders.

Ms. Springborns hearing was a little different from the others I heard in the Brighton Court house this Wednesday, as she was not allowed to plead guilty, not guilty or mute. She is faced with a felony. Her case was listed as Abandonment and Cruelty because more than 10 animals were involved. Magistrate Brian Brown did not read the details of her case, but you can go here to find out more.


On April 8th, the authorities had discovered she had failed to provide adequate care for the animals. She is facing 4 years in prison, $5000 fine and 500 hours of community service or a combination of them all. In addition she will need a psychological evaluation and prepay the costs for veterinary care.

She will be provided a court appointed attorney (Miriam Cavanagh) and her Pre-Exam meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 12th at 1 p.m. Howell District Court.

Magistrate Brown asked Ms. Springborn if she had any prior record. She quietly stated “Yes”. She told the court she had stolen a license plate. He asked her if she had any further confrontations with the law. She said she was convicted of retail fraud.

He posted her bond at $10,000. She is not allowed to own or poses animals during the court proceedings.

I am fairly sure Ms. Springborn saw my “Stop Puppy Mills” t-shirt as I was sitting in the front row of the courtroom. I was kinda hard to miss with the video camera too, but she casually read her documents and passed on by.

If you would like to read our letter to the prosecutor, go to our Meetup Message board.