We all know that puppy mills are shady; really shady. Besides making a living off of the suffering of living, breathing dogs; their #1 job is to deceive the public. Thanks to organizations like ours, we have made their lives a little harder in both aspects. Especially when it comes to exposing their shady business practices to the public.
In recent years, it has become a trend for cities (and now states) to pass legislation banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores from commercial breeders (ahem… puppy mills). Instead, these stores must get their puppies from rescues and shelters to help the homeless animals in their communities instead of aiding in the pet overpopulation problem. That sounds WONDERFUL, right? Bailing Out Benji has helped pass bans across the country on both the city and statewide level… Unfortunately- where there is a will, there is a way. And puppy mill owners sure have the will to want to make as much money as possible, while doing as little work as possible.
Case and Point…. “Rescue” Pets Iowa: 1617 S Milner St, Ottumwa Iowa.
This “rescue” seemed to pop up out of nowhere in the last few weeks. Advocates in Iowa have not heard of them, but they are already selling puppies to pet stores in cities and states that have retail bans. Those puppies are being sold for upwards of $4000 a piece in pet stores in California! Thanks to a California news station, this connection was made public. This new “rescue” doesn’t host adoption events, they don’t have a facility – – they don’t even have a Facebook page or a website! In addition, Rescue Pets Iowa isn’t even currently licensed as a rescue in Iowa, nor are they a registered 501c3 with the IRS.This is another fake rescue created by the puppy mill industry to circumvent the laws that are being passed across the nation.
What do we know so far?
Rescue Pets Iowa just filed as an Iowa business at the end of December 2018, mere weeks before the California retail ban went into effect. They registered their Iowa business as a nonprofit, but have yet to obtain their nonprofit status federally from the IRS.
As we started looking into who is operating this new rescue, we weren’t surprised to learn that the only active officer, Russell Kirk, sells puppies on facebook and recently worked for a dog breeding company that sells “Pet Industry Software” and touts “Our company does everything but clean your kennels and vaccinate your puppies”. As you can see, that was a family business.
We have also been able to connect the owner of Rescue Pets Iowa to the owners of the puppy mill broker and other fake rescue “Hobo K9 Rescue” as acquaintances- even though their facilities are 200 miles apart. Before the 2019 California retail ban went into effect, Hobo K9 “rescue” was one of the sole suppliers to CA pet stores. Once they were outed by us and the Chicago Tribune, they have gone relatively silent but have now helped this new fake rescue come to fruition.
Where is “Rescue” Pets Iowa selling puppies?
We are currently combing through hundreds of documents from the Iowa Department of Agriculture to see a bigger scope of where this fake rescue is selling their puppies. So far we have been able to connect “Rescue” Pets Iowa to another fake rescue in California, “Bark Adoptions” located at 33120 Nancy Lane, Menifee California. Rescue Pets has shipped hundreds of puppies over 2,000 miles across the country to be sold to Bark Adoptions. Bark Adoptions, in turn, is selling the puppies to pet stores all over California. A few of those pet stores include:
Escondido Pets: 200 E Via Rancho Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025 , which has since closed and become Bark Ave at the same address.
Broadway Puppies: 840 N Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
Temecula Puppies 4 Less: 31285 Temecula Pkwy #180, Temecula, CA 92592
Animal Kingdom Pet Store: 1675 W Grand Ave, Grover Beach, CA 93433
Animal Kingdom Pet Store: 146 Town Center E, Santa Maria, CA 93454
Animal Kingdom Pet Shop: 651 Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Bark Boutique: Temecula Mall 40820 Winchester Rd #2000, Temecula, CA 92591
The puppies are changing hands an insane amount of times, just so the public can’t see the truth behind what is going on.
From Puppy Mill —> Rescue Pets Iowa—> 2,000 mile transport —> Bark Adoptions —> Pet store cage —> to the unsuspecting consumer.
All before these puppies are 10 weeks old. Unfortunately, the parent dogs are suffering back at puppy mills in the Midwest.
So what can be done? Now that the public has been told through legislation in these towns that puppies in pet stores CAN’T come from puppy mills, the general consensus is that it is safe to walk in and “adopt” a puppy- and that is what the pet store is banking on. As animal advocates, it is not only our job to continue exposing the shady practices of pet stores and puppy mills, but to continue with educating the public about how to humanely and ethically acquire a pet.
Here are few tips to avoid supporting puppy mills through pet stores.
- Is there signage in the store connecting the pet store to a rescue or shelter? Pet stores are proud of their rescue partners and would have flyers, business cards and signage pointing out the relationship.
- Is the rescue or shelter hosting adoption events at the store? Shelters and rescues jump on the opportunity to host adoption events where the public can meet their adoptable animals face-to-face. Legitimate rescues and shelters would be actively hosting adoption events to ensure their pets are seen and find their forever homes.
- Does the rescue or shelter have a Facebook page, website and use pet adoption websites? Legitimate rescues have all of these things. All of them! Fact checking their existence is as easy as picking up your phone and searching for them. But it is up to you to do just that.
- Is the rescue in your area? Rescues don’t ship their puppies to other states to get adopted site unseen. And if they do, they aren’t legitimate. If you are in a pet store and the puppies are being sourced from out of state- RUN, don’t walk away.
- Are there adoption contracts for the animal and are they fully vetted? Again, legitimate rescues and shelters do not send out unaltered puppies/kittens to be sold to anyone who walks in with money. They also require adoption contracts to ensure the pet is going to a forever family, with a return clause in case it doesn’t work out.