Author: 
Pat Young and Cheryl Gross

Pinky, Max and Rogue

Less than two weeks after Pinky left a Denver pet store she was at the vet’s with a chronic cough, lethargy, and bloody diarrhea. Five thousand dollars later, Pinky’s new owners brought her home. She died a week later. Then there is Max and Rogue, both “purebred” labs who suffer from hip dysplasia and eye disease – at eighteen months old. It’s the same stories over and over. Some stores guarantee their dogs’ health but will only refund your money if you bring the dog back, as if the dog were a television or DVD player. Unfortunately, dogs are not repaired and put back on the shelves at a discount price; in all likelihood, they face the death penalty.

Quantity vs. Quality; Sick vs. Healthy

These dogs come from puppy mills – commercial dog breeding facilities where quantity and profit trump quality and care. Five years ago, two women stood peacefully in front of a pet store in Longmont after finding out that most pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills.

This particular pet store was owned by a man whose family ran a number of puppy mills in Kansas. Eventually the Longmont store closed and the women increased their numbers and began protesting a store in Denver owned by the same man. Two years later of weekly protesting and an investigation by a Denver news station into the illegal euthanasia practices allegedly performed by the owner, that pet store closed down.

Researching Pet Stores

Today, the group has grown and is now holding Saturday rallies at a store in Northglenn. Now called the 3CW Rally Committee, members research inspection reports provided by the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act program which is charged with inspecting facilities involved with pet care. Based on the number of complaints and the seriousness of violations, the Committee decides which pet stores to focus on.

Rallies are held Saturdays in two hour shifts if there are enough people. They carry large signs saying “Adopt Don’t Shop” waving to passersby who honk and wave back. Their fervent hope is that no puppies leave the pet store while they are there but it happens. Members carry packets of information about where pet store puppies come from and names and contact information for shelters and breed rescues where there are plenty of good, healthy dogs who need homes. Everyone is encouraged to be peaceful and to stay on public property.

For Pinky, Max and Rogue

Pat Young, Rally Chair for the committee is convinced that their presence is a direct way to educate the public driving by who can’t but help notice the men and women waving signs and wearing “No Puppy Mills” T-shirts. According to Young, “most drivers give us thumbs up and some even stop to talk. Very few get mad at us but it has happened a few times. Almost everyone supports us and some are even surprised to even know about puppy mills. That’s why we are here.” That and for Pinky, Max and Rogue.

If you would like to join the crew, please fill out our volunteer form here. No experience required just a passionate conviction that you are doing the right thing.