Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Pets of Bel Air, Celebrity Boutique to the Stars, Closing

 

November 26, 2008 In Defense of Animals – Action Alert

 

Store Is Feeling Pressure From Animal Rights Activists, Class Action Lawsuit

 

Pets of Bel Air, an “upscale boutique” that has sold companion animals to celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, will be closing its doors before year’s end. Jamie Katz, the store’s manager, has confirmed this information to an undercover investigator.

 

Pets of Bel Air has been subject to weekly protests by animal rights organizations, including In Defense of Animals (IDA), due to their connection with breeding factories known as “puppy mills.” A 2007 investigation by The Humane Society of the United States revealed that dogs sold in the store were supplied by midwest puppy mills, with heartbreaking, substandard conditions. The undercover investigation also showed the pet store’s manager deceiving customers.  

 

For five and half months, the store’s sale of puppy mill puppies has been under vocal attack by animal rights activists from IDA and other organizations. The demonstrators never intended nor expected the store to go out of business. “Our goal was to get this store to go humane. We would have been their vocal advocates if they had been willing to stop selling puppies and work exclusively with rescue organizations to adopt out dogs and cats,” said IDA Executive Director Karen Snook.  “We want them to make their money selling pet supplies not animals.”

 

Snook pointed to successful pet supply stores that have decided to partner with animal rescues to promote the adoption of homeless animals. “Every major city in the nation has pet supply stores that do not sell dogs and cats – they help find homes for some of the millions of homeless dogs and cats in our country,” said Snook.

 

Pets of Bel Air’s decision comes as it has experienced legal pressures as well, defending itself in a class action lawsuit with eight hundred participants.

 

One of the regular participants in IDA’s demonstrations was Carole Raphaelle Davis, author of "The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife" and investigative reporter for American Dog Magazine. Ms. Davis expressed the widely-held concern that Pets of Bel Air would continue to sell puppy mill dogs over the internet: "The dogs being sold by this store are from pet factories, and those factories remain in business. As pet stores that sell dogs succumb to humane concerns, puppy millers are finding refuge in Internet sales.”

Update: Let This Be a Lesson to Shady Pet Stores

Pet store to the stars slapped with $4.8M judgment
Aug 4, 2009 Excerpt from NBC Los Angeles  

A $4.8 million default judgment awarded to former customers of a now-closed Bel Air pet store should help deter similar businesses from selling sick animals from puppy mills, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Tuesday.

A lawsuit against Pets of Bel Air -- where customers reportedly included such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Denise Richards -- was filed in December 2007 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It alleged the store sold puppies that later became sick or died because they were bred in so-called puppy mills.

The complaint alleged Pets of Bel Air "sold ... puppies for a premium price and thereby duped California consumers out of millions of dollars."  Judge John P. Shook approved the default judgment last Wednesday after the defendants ignored court orders to turn over business documents to the plaintiffs and respond to motions in the case.

"We are pleased that the court has held the defendants accountable for their fraudulent advertising and unlawful business practices," attorney Peter J. Farnese said. "We hope this case has helped to expose the practices of their industry, and that this judgment will protect other consumers and serve as a deterrent to other pet stores in California and elsewhere who obtain puppies from puppy mills," he said.

Last October, Shook certified the Pets of Bel Air suit as a class-action case, meaning an estimated 800 customers who bought puppies at the store between Dec. 28, 2003, and Oct. 7, 2008, will be joined as plaintiffs once they are identified and notified.

The lawsuit, originally brought by attorney Wayne S. Kreger, stated that Pets of Bel Air got much of its stock from Midwest puppy mills, all the while claiming the animals were from private breeders.

About the time the plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification, Pets of Bel Air "completely overhauled its Website to remove this claim," according to Farnese's court papers. The store typically bought its puppies for about $400 and sold them for $2,000 or more, according to the plaintiffs.

LA Pet Store Embraces Humane Model 

March 16, 2009
Grand Opening of Woof Worx features animal shelter rescued pups

By Lisa Dulyea, Best Friends staff

Best Friends Los Angeles Programs (BFLA) hosted an event March 13 to celebrate the grand opening of the first rescued pets store resulting from A Puppy-Store-Free LA.

Eight months ago, Best Friends LA launched A-Puppy-Store-Free LA to stop pet stores from selling puppies because, sadly, that doggie in the window comes from a puppy mill. Not only is this a heartbreaking situation for the dogs being forced to breed in deplorable conditions, but for the new pet parents, as well.

A puppy purchased from a pet store can cost up to $1,500. More often than not, these sweet new additions have congenital disorders and may die with in the first two years of life due to inbreeding and unhealthy living situations. Few families can afford the thousands of dollars on unexpected vet bills and many puppies are surrendered to shelters, where they are euthanized or wait in vain for a new home. Most never get that second chance.

Best Friends has been hard at work to find an alternative, and collaborated with Woof Worx (formerly Pets of Bel Air) on the idea to sell wonderful, healthy, purebred puppies that come from local shelters. For a mere fraction of what it would cost at a traditional pet store, people can adopt one (or more) of these dogs, support a business that’s doing the right thing, and save a life.

Jamie Katz, owner of Woof Worx, proudly opened the doors last weekend to over 150 supporters of this new concept. Veggie hors d’oeuvres and wine were served at the beautiful, high-end pet store in the heart of Bel Air.

Available dogs were there to celebrate their new lives, as well. This is not a typical store where puppies are kept in cramped confinement on newspaper or plastic flooring. Think of it as an indoor dog park. The puppies had toys, individual soft beds, even an indoor pet potty. A comfy couch is in the puppy room for anyone who wants to get acquainted with their potential new family member or just be covered with puppy kisses.

“We are so thrilled to be partnering with Jamie Katz, the owner of this beautiful store, and to support her in her efforts,” says Elizabeth Oreck, BFLA manager. “We truly believe that traditional pet stores that sell dogs from puppy mills will soon be a thing of the past, and that a store like Woof Worx will become a national model for cities all across the country.

“This is not only a great way to showcase rescued animals who need homes, and to help lower the number of dogs and cats in our drastically overcrowded shelters, but an opportunity to educate the public about animal welfare issues. And we are so grateful to Jamie for taking that leap and being willing to show the rest of the country that a successful pet store can be modeled on compassion rather than cruelty.”

Katz was an employee of Pets of Bel Air when BFLA began its peaceful protests. “I always knew in my heart that selling puppies this way was wrong,” she says. “I’m a huge animal lover and advocate of animal welfare.”

Katz acquired the store when the original owner of Pets of Bel Air lost his lease, due in part to Best Friends’ protests.

Jennifer Krause, puppy mill campaign coordinator, thanked all the volunteers, supporters and Jamie. “This is a huge victory, and we couldn’t have done without them. Jamie just gets it.”

September 19, 2013 West Hollywood bans commercial displays of exotic animals

Lawsuit Filed Against PetSmart and PetSmart Groomer For Loss of Puppy