Protesters target RI pet store, owner responds
WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WJAR) —
Instead of hitting the stores on Black Friday, a group of about 15 protestors picketed on the sidewalk outside Perfect Puppy, a pet store located in West Warwick that also has a location in Scituate.
"Most times, when there's a retail location that's selling puppies and kittens, they're coming from puppy mills,” said Nicole Waybright, one of the protest organizers.
Waybright and others carried signs with slogans like, “Adopt, Don’t Shop,” and “Honk if You Hate Puppy Mills.”
One woman said she bought a dog at Perfect Puppy’s East Providence location three years ago, which closed after the city changed its laws to make pet stores illegal.
Holly Dupont said she ended up spending $6500 on vet bills in the first six months after she brought the dog home.
"He seemed healthy when I bought him, but within the first week, he was diagnosed with giardia, kennel cough which turned into pneumonia. He was hospitalized for a week,” Dupont. Her dog has since recovered and is doing well, she said.
NBC 10 News took the allegations to one of Perfect Puppy’s owners, Carlos Munoz.
“The truth is, we are not a puppy mill,” Munoz said. “We have no intention to become a puppy mill.”
Munoz said both of his stores follow all state rules and regulations. He said the Town of Scituate approved Perfect Puppy’s plans to breed dogs there, and local and state officials can inspect the facility at any time.
"I want to breed healthy dogs. I want to provide transparency for people. I want people to be able to come see the parents of the puppies,” he said.
Rhode Island law requires pet stores to offer refunds after an animal is purchased to cover vet bills, up to the full purchase price of the pet.
Munoz said he follows that law. He also said he wants customers to be happy.
“If something happens with one of my dogs, I want to own up and help the people out,” he said.
Protestors said they’d like to see Rhode Island ban retail pet stores altogether.
"So many dogs and cats in Rhode Island need homes,” Waybright said, also adding that many pet stores help finance out-of-state puppy mills where dogs live in deplorable conditions—a practice Munoz said his stores do not support.
Meanwhile, Munoz insists he isn’t doing anything wrong.
“What I want to do is pretty much be transparent, and continue to be compliant with the state,” he said, noting that inspectors from West Warwick, Scituate or the State are welcome in his stores at any time.