Protesters target mall pet store Pickets allege pups are from filthy farms

December 20, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

About 20 animal-rights activists demonstrated outside The Mall in Columbia yesterday as part of a nationwide protest of the Docktor Pet Center and Petland because they believe the chains get puppies from filthy breeding farms.

A Docktor Pet official denied the charge.

Carrying signs reading "Canine Hell," and "Puppy Mills Kill," members of the Maryland Forum for Animals picketed at the mall because Docktor Pet Center, one of the nation's largest pet store chains, has a store there.

The Petland chain has at least one Maryland store.

"We're asking Americans to go to their local humane society where they'll adopt a happy, healthy animal," said Catherine MacDonald, protest coordinator for Maryland Forum for Animals.

The protest, which included 40 cities in the United States and Canada, was sponsored by the Atlanta-based Companion Animal Protection Society, which opposes the Docktor Pet and Petland because the activists say the chains get puppies from "puppy mills," breeding farms where the animals are kept in poor conditions to cut costs.

But Lee McNinney, Docktor Pet Center district manager for an area that includes Maryland, said the chain gets its puppies only from certified breeders, who must meet strict guidelines on health and sanitary conditions set by the chain and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We buy our puppies from professional breeders," Mr. McNinney said. "We don't buy our puppies from puppy mills. We don't allow our stores to buy from breeders that haven't been inspected by the USDA."

Animal rights activists, however, said the chain gets puppies from the mills, which are mostly in the Midwest. They said the animals suffer filth, crowding, insufficient food and water, incessant breeding and lack of veterinary care. Arriving at pet stores, they might be sick and lack the happy temperament of a pet.

"The inbreeding and puppy mills have to go," said Ellicott City resident Martha Gagnon, who has a 10-year-old cocker spaniel from the Docktor Pet Center in The Mall.

Ms. Gagnon said that her dog came from a puppy mill, and, as a result, suffers eye problems and a rash, which requires medicine, vitamin supplements and a special diet.

Protesters said the pet store chains contribute to the overpopulation of animals.

"It just becomes a roller coaster of puppies, and they end up at shelters where they're euthanized," Ms. MacDonald said.

Last year, two demonstrators from the Maryland Forum for Animals were arrested outside the mall on trespassing charges during a protest of Docktor Pet.

Police arrested no one during yesterday's two-hour demonstration outside the mall entrance on Little Patuxent Parkway.

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