Soon to open Derby pet shop angering animal rights activists

DERBY – A pet store slated to open on Sunday is grumbling dog rights activists.

A to Z Pets, a pet store in Orange, will be opening another Derby location on Pershing Drive this weekend. But animal rights activists plan to be at the store from noon that day to protest the grand opening, as the store expects to sell dogs, which they say often come from what ‘they describe as abusive breeders.

Animal rights activist Sheryl Becker said pet stores that sell dogs and puppies often get their animals from so-called puppy mills.

“According to the Humane Society, 99% of dogs sold in stores come from puppy mills. A human breeder can only breed a limited number of dogs at a time. The only way to get a lot of dogs at once is to go through a puppy mill, ”Becker said.

Becker said the animals in the puppy mills lived in poor conditions, including limited access to exercise, veterinary care and exposure to the elements. Pet stores say their dogs are from humane breeders, but new pet owners often find their pets critically ill, she said.

But Tara Fleming, the owner of A to Z Pets, says that’s just not true for her store.

“I follow every law put in place by the state of Connecticut, which also has laws supported by (the Federal Department of Agriculture). These laws therefore state that every puppy and kitten must come from a USDA licensed breeder who has not had a direct violation in their breeding for the past two years, ”said Fleming.

The law, she said, curbs abusive ranchers.

She said when she opened her first pet store in the state in 2012, she only sourced her dogs from local breeders. But when the state demanded that pet stores can only get their animals from USDA-licensed breeders, it had to stop using them because many weren’t licensed.

CT Votes for Animals Executive Director Jo-Anne Basile said just because a breeder is USDA licensed doesn’t mean they are taking good care of their animals.

“They have very minimum rules that you have to follow in order to meet their guidelines,” she said.

Basil said the law specifies the size of dog cages, but his group recommends that they be larger; she said the law only requires medical attention once a year and the USDA does not have enough staff to properly inspect the facilities.

Basile said pet stores in general need to stop sourcing animals from puppy mills and stop selling dogs or just selling pet supplies. Other stores, she said, have performed well in this business model.

Fleming said none of his clients have ever complained about his business.

“Once they buy their pet, we are there for them for the life of the animal. So my clients are all happy that I know, ”Fleming said.

Fleming said she was open to dialogue with animal advocates, but some of them were aggressive and threatened her and her family. At one point, she considered leaving the company entirely.

She decided not to do it.

“We see so much joy in customers that we have decided to continue,” she said.

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