West Hollywood, California (Monday, May 18, 2009) – Elite Animals of West Hollywood came under fire from animal rights activists this month for allegedly selling pet factory, or puppy mill-bred animals.
For two consecutive weekends, activists wielded signs that said, “Go humane or go out of business!” claiming Elite Animals is defrauding consumers.
What spurred the protest was the release of a video by the Companion Animal Protection Society from an investigation that showed a clerk from Elite Animals telling undercover investigators that the puppies sold in the store come from Moscow where they are “raised in a house.”
That same tape revealed what activists called “horrible” conditions at a USDA licensed commercial breeding facility in Minnesota from which some of the dogs actually come.
The puppy mill in Melrose, Minnesota, that supplies pet shops around the country, contains dogs suffering in runs and cages filled with urine and feces.
Photos show breeding dogs standing on rusted wire flooring and injured with wounds and infections.
Some of the dogs were so distressed that they had apparently attempted to chew their way out of the wooden whelping boxes. Many of the dogs lay exposed to the elements, while water containers showed a thick layer of slime (algae).
Reports state that the mill had many dogs with congenital malformations and severe illnesses; in some cases claiming dogs were euthanized because of them.
Additionally, say activists, Elite Animals repeatedly offered eight week-old puppies imported from Russia to CAPS undercover investigators posing as customers, violating a federal law passed in 2008 forbidding the importation of live dogs into the United States if the dogs are under the age of six months.
The protests and charges compelled Isabella Stroshnoy, owner of Elite Animals, and members of the animal protection movement met at West Hollywood’s City Hall on May 12 to seek a mediation that would bring Elite into compliance with the laws and customs controlling animal sales in the city.
The City of West Hollywood passed a resolution banning the sale of puppy mills last year and the Animal Legal Defense Fund has offered to help the city draft an enforceable anti-puppy mill ordinance.
The meeting, led by Carole Raphaelle Davis, West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society also attended by The Companion Animal Protection Society, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, In Defense of Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, The Amanda Foundation and Strangest Angels Rescue.
Ms. Raphaelle presented photos of the scenes mentioned above, as well as providing evidence of repeated incidents of non-compliance from USDA inspections, linking the Minnesota mill with Elite Animals.
Ms. Stroshnoy said after the meeting that Elite Animals would cease and desist from buying dogs for the time being, while they considered the idea of converting to a humane business model.
Additionally, Teri Austin, president of the Amanda Foundation, rescue organization in Los Angeles, agreed to meet with owners of Elite Animals to discuss the possibility of an arrangement to hold adoptions at the store and assist in developing a humane approach to the sale of animals.
Carole Raphaelle Davis is the author of “The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife”, reporter for American Dog Magazine and West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society.