Letters from the Issue of August 22, 2002
I told it to a judge who agreed with me: Thanks very much for Mike Clary's "Puppy Dog Tales" (August 15). I read it with great interest. You see, two years ago I purchased what was represented to be a healthy, purebred English bulldog from Puppy Kingdom for the "bargain" price of $1200. What I got, however, was anything but a bargain. I soon discovered that my new puppy, Thor, was not a purebred English bulldog but a mix of the American and English breeds. (American bulldogs are taller and leaner than their squat and chubby English counterparts.) More important, upon bringing him home, Thor immediately fell very ill and almost died from a variety of maladies -- kennel cough and coccidia, to name just a couple. I videotaped the whole ordeal and have the veterinary bills to prove it (I am an attorney, after all). Fortunately I knew my rights under Florida's Puppy Lemon Law and knew I did not have to take my puppy to All Pets for veterinary care.
When I brought Thor back to Puppy Kingdom with my veterinary bills and asked for reimbursement pursuant to the Lemon Law, Puppy Kingdom effectively told me to take a hike and that if I wanted them to pay I would have to take them to court. I told them this was probably not the wisest course for them as I was an attorney who made a living suing much larger corporations than theirs. But they just laughed. So I sued them. And guess what? I won, obtained a judgment against them for $2000, and then settled the case. The main reason I settled was that Puppy Kingdom's attorney told me the shop would be "going out of business very soon" and I was worried I wouldn't collect the judgment. Well, I guess the business of "going out of business" is treating Puppy Kingdom very well these days because they haven't gone anywhere by the looks of it.
As you can imagine, all this makes me quite angry. It also leaves me with more questions than answers. Why is this operation still in business, defrauding innocent people and causing them such emotional distress? What about health concerns and the potential spread of the diseases these puppies were clearly sold with? Doesn't the State of Florida have an interest in regulating the boarding and sale of live animals by pet stores such as Puppy Kingdom to prevent the horror stories documented in Mr. Clary's article?
For some people (like me), the pain that comes from watching your puppy suffer from a serious illness -- not to mention watching your new puppy die before your very eyes -- is no different from watching it happen to a sister or brother. It lingers with you, and you never really forget. I feel deeply for the people in the article and what they've been forced to go through because of Puppy Kingdom's unethical business practices. I hope "Puppy Dog Tales" raises the public's awareness and ire and puts this "Little Pet Shop of Horrors" out of business for good.
Aaron C. Wong
The profit motive is not healthy for puppies and other living things: To those who purchase sick animals from a pet store, allow me to be the first to welcome you back from a time capsule. There have been many stories in the press regarding the cruel business of raising pets at puppy mills. Pet shops such as Puppy Kingdom get their pets from puppy mills and have been doing so for many years, despite complaints and efforts to shut them down.
Although they are supposed to be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many dog breeders are not, and there are not enough inspectors to monitor those who are. Many also claim some affiliation with the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a seal of quality for their puppies, but it is simply a marketing tool. The AKC receives millions of dollars in registration fees from breeders but does little to reform puppy mills.
Puppy mills are in business for profit. They care little about the terrible treatment of the animals or the sad consequences for the naive purchaser of a sick animal. I suggest that people who want a dog or a cat pay a visit to their local animal shelter, where there are many healthy mixed breeds as well as purebreds that may be acquired for a nominal fee. They may also check out www.petfinder.com, where 87,000 pets wait to be adopted from shelters around the country.
Run, don't walk, to the county pound for your next pet: Having spoken with an official at Miami-Dade Animal Control Shelter (commonly called "the pound"), I was informed that 27,000 animals were killed or "put down" in 2001, many of them young and healthy but unwanted.
The misguided folks who buy into the theory that paying more (animal control is relatively inexpensive) and that going to a puppy store will assure them of health and longevity may find out, as the people in Mike Clary's article did, that this simply isn't true. The pound has an assortment of wonderful animal friends. Trust me, they'll tug just as hard at your heartstrings. The difference is that they'll be "put down" in ten days.
Think, have a heart, and save some money. Do the right thing and send a message to the Midwest puppy mills. Head for the pound.
The reverend should know better than to rationalize discrimination: After reading Kirk Nielsen's article "Between a Frock and a Hard Place" (August 15), about black clergy members opposed to the county's gay-rights ordinance, I was outraged at Rev. Richard Bennett's bigoted, dimwitted view that homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexual people should be equated with alcoholics or drug dealers. Whatever happened to the old saying Live and let live?
Does it really matter if someone "chooses" a gay lifestyle or is born that way? Should we discriminate against people who choose to be different? What a crock! We've all heard these arguments before -- leading up to World War II -- about the Jews, the Gypsies, and gays. And of course we heard it again about blacks during the civil-rights movement.
Special rights my ass! How about the right not to be fired for what I do in my private life? Oh, we love homosexuals, Reverend Bennett says, we just don't want them to live, work, or raise children here. Seems like the same things people were saying about blacks 50 years ago. Some people should know better. Remember, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
Keep up the good work, New Times. From a proud American who happens to be black and gay.
The reverend should know it's right there in the Good Book: So Reverend Bennett bases his bigotry on passages from the Bible. I wonder how he feels about Bible passages condoning slavery, polygamy, and rejection of children born out of wedlock. Does he eat shrimp? How about rabbit? They're forbidden in the Bible too.
This is not what the county's existing ordinance is about. It's about preventing discrimination, all sorts of discrimination. Bennett claims to love gays, but what kind of love can that be if it denies another person's rights?
The reverend should know he's being inconsistent: The current county ordinance also prohibits discrimination based on marital or familial status. An unwed mother is protected; unmarried couples living together are protected. Yet these lifestyle choices are condemned in Reverend Bennett's scriptures. (See, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9.) Should those engaging in such abominations be given "special protection" under the ordinance?
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