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Allie-Brennan Works To Protect Pet Owners From Inhumane Puppy Mills

Published: April 04, 2019 at 09:00 am

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“Adopt, don’t shop,” has become the slogan for countless animal welfare groups and individuals who advocate for people to choose pets from rescue organizations instead of pet stores supplied by puppy mills.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, “A puppy mill is an inhumane, commercial dog breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”

The group adds, “Mother dogs spend their entire lives in cramped cages with little to no personal attention. When the mother and father dogs can no longer breed, they are abandoned or killed. Due to poor sanitation and a lack of preventive veterinary care, the puppies from puppy mills frequently suffer from a variety of health issues, creating heartbreaking challenges for families who should be enjoying the delights of adopting a new family member.”

Legislative change has begun nationally with bills being passed in California and Maryland to prevent pet stores from selling animals from puppy mills.

To protect Connecticut pet owners and the animals, Second District Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-Bethel) and State Representative Jason Doucette (D-Manchester) have come together to sponsor House Bill Number 5386, which proposes prohibiting the sale or transfer of dogs, cats, and rabbits at Connecticut pet shops that are not from animal welfare organizations.

House Bill Number 5386 is supported by animal welfare and advocacy groups, including Connecticut Votes for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA.

Rep Allie-Brennan first heard of the puppy mill issue from a local supporter of his while on the campaign trail.

Wanting to learn more, he went to an organized protest outside of Puppy Kisses in Danbury and spoke with people there, many of whom were from Newtown and the surrounding area, who have bought puppies from pet stores.

“What I learned is that a lot of these consumers are unaware of where these dogs come from,” Rep Allie-Brennan said.

He heard countless “horror stories” of individuals and families who paid thousands of dollars to purchase their puppy only to discover the dog was sick and in need of veterinary care, costing them thousands of additional dollars.

“People say ‘Oh, just give back the dogs then,’ but how can you do that once you’ve invested in them and have brought them in your home?” Rep Allie-Brennan asked.

These animals quickly become part of people’s families, but they also take an emotional and financial toll on the owner due to conditions they were bred in.

In some cases, Rep Allie-Brennan heard of dogs from pet stores dying within just a year or two after being purchased, as a result of coming from a puppy mill.

“In a way, this bill is a consumer protection bill and a humane bill. We want this practice to end,” Rep Allie-Brennan said.

He explained that the majority of pet stores in Connecticut do not sell commercially raised puppies and would not be impacted by this bill being passed.

“This also won’t affect responsible breeders, because most don’t sell to pet stores anyway,” Rep Allie-Brennan added.

However, he says, there are about a dozen pet stores throughout the state that would be affected, including two for-profit pet shops, Puppy Kisses and Puppy Love, in Danbury.

Opposition To The Bill

Puppy Love has posted a “Sign The Petition” link to its website, looking for supporters to help them prevent the bill from passing. The petition is titled, “Help Reputable & Responsible Puppy Stores like Puppy Love Stay in Business.”

The family-owned store has been in business for 24 years and serves clients looking for specific breeds or needs.

In its petition description, it states, “The lobbyists and activists are trying to do one of two things, either force puppy stores out of business or make it so they can only sell rescue dogs. We are in no way saying that rescue is bad, but because of the many unknowns and uncertainties, rescue is not an option for some families.”

The write-up adds, “Adopt OR Shop, it should be your decision to make; you should not have your right and free choice taken away. We understand that some breeders, some pet stores, and even some rescues are not reputable; these are ones to avoid and ones that should not be allowed to operate... Please help us to continue to provide the love and companionship that only a happy, healthy puppy can offer!”

Upon reaching out to Puppy Love, a representative was not available for comment to The Newtown Bee at the time.

Also based in Danbury is Puppy Kisses, whose website states that when the Rothman family purchased the store January 1, 2016, it made several changes to the quality of the store and the animals.

Its “About Us” description details the group works one-on-one with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure “everything we can do meets and exceeds standard of care.”

Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) posted a video on its Facebook page on March 19 detailing investigations it has done pertaining to puppy mills, which included reports on Pet Connect.

Pet Connect, they say, is registered as a Missouri nonprofit whose board members include Alysia and Ray Rothman, owners of Puppy Kisses.

Deborah Howard, CAPS president, also explained in the video, “Ray Rothman is listed on LinkedIn as a sales manager for Hunte. The Hunte Corporation is one of the largest dog brokerage facilities in the country, well-known for obtaining puppies from mills. CAPS worked undercover at Hunte for six months in 2004.”

The video also alleges that CAPS suspects Puppy Kisses sources its puppies from the Hunte Corporation.

Annmarie Mancuso, manager and customer service representative for Puppy Kisses, recently began working at Puppy Kisses three weeks ago and has ten years of experience in the industry.

She told The Newtown Bee on April 3 that Mr Rothman does not work for the Hunte Corporation and that the company no longer exists.

Additionally, Ms Mancuso says puppies from Puppy Kisses come from a variety of different USDA-licensed breeders that comply with strict regulations and are not under direct or indirect violations.

She explained that Puppy Kisses gives their dogs daily exercise and weekly veterinary visits by Dr Wesley Baff of Plumtrees Animal Hospital. It also offers 24-hour customer care, a free examination of the dog after purchase, and a six-month congenial warranty, which is mandated by the State of Connecticut. Those who purchase a puppy with Puppy Kisses receive vaccination records and crate training information.

Study To Take Place

When Rep Allie-Brennan and Rep Doucette presented House Bill Number 5386 to the Environment Committee in March, the group voted to do more research and get a recommendation from the Department of Agriculture if the law should be implemented or not.

“They voted the bill out of the committee, but they amended for it to just be a study...” Rep Allie-Brennan explained. “They want to basically study the California law, [but] California law does have a loophole in it, which is why we prefer the Maryland language.”

The California loophole entails that pet stores can register as a nonprofit rescue and still get dogs through puppy mills, while Maryland’s policy stops that loophole from happening.

The study is anticipated to take a year to complete, which concerns Rep Allie-Brennan.

“My fear is that we do this, and it just kicks the can, and we don’t get a chance to do it again. I’m only guaranteed one term, that’s why I’m pushing so hard,” he said.

Rep Allie-Brennan is also troubled by the fact that the study is dependent on accessing accurate information, but much of it is no longer available with the USDA.

Jo-Anne Basile, Executive Director of Connecticut Votes For Animals, explained, “…information about these puppy mills is no longer easily available to the public, as the USDA has closed down the website that published the breeders and their violations almost two years ago.”

Rep Allie-Brennan recommends that those who support House Bill Number 5386 and hope to see it passed should lobby members of the General Assembly, whether in person or by writing letters.

“Your voice is the most powerful with your legislatures,” he said.

When looking to adopt an animal, Rep Allie-Brennan says to verify the group is a reputable nonprofit that sources its animals ethically.

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