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December 13, 2007

Empty Excuses

Companies and people who are not doing right by animals resort to rationalizations to live with themselves and to convince the public that their conduct is socially acceptable. Every target of The Humane Society of the United States has a shtick—whether they are dogfighters, cockfighters, trophy hunters, sealers, puppy mills, or even pet stores—and these obfuscations seem flimsier and flimsier as our society comes to grips with its moral responsibilities to other creatures.

Last night, Pets of Bel Air issued a statement in response to the torrent of attention generated by The HSUS's recent undercover investigation. Here's the Pets of Bel Air statement, and then our reply follows.

Dear Customers, Friends and Neighbors,

We are horrified by the recent video released by the Humane Society of the United States showing footage of puppy mills. We do not condone puppy mills; we would never knowingly buy a dog from a puppy mill; and we are appalled by the possibility that this may have happened. We are investigating all of our sources so that we continue to have the finest and most reputable dogs from the best breeders, a practice that we’ve held central to our business since we opened nine years ago.

Each of our beautiful puppies purchased out-of –state are from a USDA approved pet breeder. We rely on our governmental agency to be sure that these breeders are inspected, and when we see the conditions that these animals are living in it feels as though the USDA has failed our business, and most importantly they have failed the animals that do not have a voice.

All of our puppies are given health checks by our store veterinarian when they become part of our family and before joining their new families. Our puppies are all sold with a health warranty, and are not available to go home to their new families until they have been cleared by a veterinarian.

It has been brought to our attention that our permit to sell animals has expired and we are already in the process of paying the full amount owed. The permit fee is not a significant number, and went inadvertently unpaid. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, as we will continue to do business with the highest level of integrity.

Pets of Bel Air has been a trusted neighborhood business for many years. Every employee at Pets of Bel Air is an animal lover, as evidenced by the care and love we show our puppies and kittens each day; the healthy environment we provide; and the respect we show each of you. We continue to be a community pet store you can trust.

Thank you for your continued support.
Pets of Bel Air

The Humane Society of the United States' investigation makes it clear that Pets of Bel Air puppies came from puppy mills. The store's claim of ignorance just doesn’t measure up: they made absolute assurances to their customers of the sources of their puppies—noting specifically on their website that their "babies come from private breeders". These claims are typical of slick pet store sales techniques—and Pets of Bel Air would have kept on making them if not for The HSUS' investigation.

They also can’t deny the confessions of their store staff about the health of the animals, and their description of how they mislead customers.

Pets of Bel Air claims they set the standard for the pet store industry—that’s exactly our fear. Pets of Bel Air's deceitful tactics are standard fare in pet stores across the nation. The pet store industry knowingly supports the cruel and reckless business of puppy mills. The HSUS will continue to work tirelessly to shine a spotlight on this indefensible abuse and let the public know how to avoid supporting it themselves.

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