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Puppy Mill Awareness Day
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Doggone mystery
Puppy mill signs at Rockvale gone, but who removed them?

By Susan E. Lindt, Intelligencer Journal Staff
Intelligencer Journal
Published: Dec 09, 2005 10:22 AM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - Someone is doing his or her best to keep Lancaster County's "dirty little secret."

A Chester County animal-rescue organization that has launched billboard campaigns over the last year to educate consumers about Lancaster County's puppy mill industry is facing a setback in its latest campaign.

Main Line Animal Rescue recently spent $1,500 on posters and a billboard on Interstate 83 that warn people against the dangers of purchasing puppies at mills to give as gifts.

But part of the sign campaign -- which features Santa Claus holding his finger to his mouth and the message, "Lancaster County has a dirty little secret ... Some of the worst Puppy Mills in the country" -- hit a roadblock when the posters featured at Rockvale Square Outlets were removed without notice.

Main Line contracted for their posters to be displayed at the Route 30 outlet center through the holidays. They were posted Saturday.

No one at Rockvale was available for comment Thursday, but Main Line founder Bill Smith said no one at Rockvale, nor the company from which he leased the ad space, told him the posters had been removed. In fact, he didn't know they had been taken down until Wednesday, when a reporter told him they weren't posted at Rockvale.

"Someone out there is responsible, and we're going to find out who it is," Smith said Thursday. "If we were a business and the signs were taken down, we would be losing revenue. We're a nonprofit, and we don't sell dogs, but we educate people, so this is just as harmful to our mission."

Smith said he notified Viacom, the company that leased the Rockvale sign space to Main Line, and was told it also wasn't notified the signs had been removed.

The signs were posted in locked display cases outside Pottery Barn Outlet, Naturalizer Outlet, The Franklin Mint and Eagles End Zone.

"Viacom's installers put them up," Smith said. "You need a key to (unlock the cases to) take them down, and Viacom didn't take them down. Viacom said someone at Rockvale probably would have called them if they had taken them down. Perhaps it was vandals. Viacom is not very happy that someone pulled down their client's posters."

The display cases showed no signs of damage this week. Outlet maps and directories were posted in place of Main Line's signs.

"Puppy mills" is a term used by Humane Society of the United States and others to describe breeders producing large numbers of dogs for sale to the public, brokers or pet shops. Problems documented at the mills include: inbreeding; overcrowding and overbreeding; minimal veterinary care; lack of shelter, nourishment and socialization; and inhumane killing of unwanted animals when they are no longer profitable as breeders.

Smith isn't deterred by the bump in his group's campaign. He said the I-83 billboard just north of Harrisburg's Exit 35 will get out the word at a crucial time -- when many consumers unknowingly are buying puppies from mills, or from pet stores that bought them from mills, to give as presents.

"I called our attorney, and he said this was actually a theft that should be reported to police," Smith said. "The posters were quite valuable when you consider the work and expense we put into them."

Media already were bearing down on the story about the latest ad campaign when Smith was told the Rockvale posters were missing. He staved off national media until local reporters had a chance to report about the campaign.

Smith believes the story will take a new turn now, especially because Viacom owns CBS Television, which has more than 200 affiliates, and CBS news stations already have contacted him to air stories about the missing posters.

"We just wanted to reach a lot of people from out of state," Smith said about the Rockvale posters. "They come to Pennsylvania to buy dogs. When they buy a sick dog, the first thing people do is call the breeder, who will tell them to bring the dog back. By then, they're already attached to the dog, and they have no idea what the breeder will do to it, so they just let (the matter) go."

According to Pennsylvania's Puppy Lemon Law, buyers may keep their sick dog and get their money back from the breeder. Although Main Line's new media campaign directs consumers to adopt dogs from animal shelters, Smith wants consumers to know that if they risk buying from a high-volume breeder, they have legal protection if the dog becomes sick.

"The tricky part is you have to (contact the breeder) quickly, but you don't have to give the dog back," Smith said. "That's the part people don't understand."

While someone might be trying to keep Lancaster County's puppy mills secret, it might be a losing battle.

This week, TIME magazine featured an article about the county's abundant industry, even mentioning repeat offenders Joyce and Raymond Stoltzfus' ongoing Puppy Love operation in Peach Bottom, where 171 customers have bought sick dogs.

In May, the couple was ordered by the state Attorney General's office to repay $50,000 to those customers.

Since then, the Stoltzfuses have continued operating their kennel at 267 Riverview Road and online, where 55 breeds are offered for sale and the Stoltzfuses tout their 30 years of experience in the business.

For more information about Pennsylvania's Puppy Lemon Law, visit www.attorneygeneral.gov and search under the keywords "puppy lemon" for the Dog Purchaser Protection Act.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day
11th Dec 2005, 01:34   | tags:,,


I had no idea!

11th Dec 2005, 01:56

ookiine says:


11th Dec 2005, 01:59

critical g says:

well i'm in london, so i'll support it in spirit

11th Dec 2005, 02:35

autumncat says:

Many of the puppy breeders/mills are Amish. Surprisingly. I was very disappointed when I discovered this years ago.

11th Dec 2005, 03:40