By Doug Porter
Back in July the San Diego City Council approved an ordinance banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at pet stores unless the animals are obtained from an animal shelter, an animal-control agency, a humane society or a nonprofit rescue organization. The law came about following a slew of reports nationwide tying pet store sales of companion animals to high volume breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills, catteries, and rabbit mills.
Impacted by this move was San Diego Puppy, a Grantville retailer owned by David and Veronica Salinas. They have filed a federal complaint, according to a San Diego Reader story by Dorian Hargrove, naming the City of San Diego, the local Humane Society, the San Diego Animal Defense Team, the Animal Protection and Rescue League, and the league’s lawyer, Bryan Pease, for their part in passing the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance.
The Salinas’ claim irreparable damage to their business, which the complaint says was the only retail “pet store in the city that is/was selling purebred and other high-quality puppies that are not purported to be from a rescue or shelter retail facility.” Yes, animal lovers, we’re supposed to believe these plaintiffs are humble businessfolk, unreasonably persecuted by council members Lorie Zapf and Marti Emerald at the behest of activist organizations.
Despite widespread publicity (and Salinas’ participation in hearings on the ordinance) San Diego Puppy was cited by the County Animal Control for continuing to sell puppies.
UPDATE: (From Carolyn Chan, Esq, Attorney for the Salinas, who vaguely implied the above sentence was some sort of legal issue)
In fact, the city attorney wrote up a stipulation that Mr. Salinas could sign which he chose not to do, and Mr. Salinas has therefore exercised his rights because they exist. Puppies from the San Diego location were purposely relocated due to both ongoing threats and physical altercations by protesters, which are well documented and either illegal, improper or criminal.
From an article at OpposingViews:
Salinas calls the pet-shop ban a consumer-rights violation. “We’re not Communist Russia,” he said. “Americans should have a right to choose where they can shop.”
“This has got to stop,” Salinas added. “This movement of accusing every single breeder having pet stores as puppy mills is absolutely ridiculous.”
He says he’s being defiant because the ordinance is unconstitutional. He told the officers who came to his store that he has never received any notice or letter about the ordinance, and he has now submitted a letter to the city attorney laying out his case.
Backers of the ordinance say San Diego Puppy buys and sells dogs from auctions or imports them from other countries. The animals are purportedly facing “an array of health problems, including communicable diseases and genetic disorders that present immediately after sale or that do not surface until several years later, all of which lead to costly veterinary bills and resulting in financial and emotional distress to consumers. Some of these animals die within days, weeks or months of purchase, causing emotional distress to consumers, especially those whose children immediately bonded with the new addition to the family.”
The owners of the store claim to deal directly with licensed breeders who are subject to governmental regulations. Saying that there are already protections in place protecting animals from neglect and mistreatment by breeders, they go on to point out “all dogs sold at San Diego Puppy come with a certificate of health.”
A quick trip into the Yelp reviews on San Diego Puppy is illustrative of the intensity of the abyss between what the owners claim and what consumers’ allege to be their experiences. Over and over again you can read stories claiming misrepresentation of breeds, animals with genetic disorders common to breeding mills and pets with poor and sometimes fatal health problems.
I wish I had known all of this before I purchased a very expensive Golden Retriever, Pumpkin, from them. She had several seizures her short life before she died at the young age of 1. She was also “AKC” registered, which clearly meant nothing when she was seizing.
You can also read owner David Salina’s responses to the Yelp! reviews. In one he calls out the author of a review as an “animal rights terrorist.” Confronted with DNA evidence, he makes the claim that such testing is unreliable. Mostly he’s defensive, reminding reviewer James L. of “Amy, from Amy’s Baking Company who bashes her customers complaints on yelp and says everyone’s out to defame her.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General report on “licensed breeders” is just simply horrifying. OIG auditors visited 81 “facilities” and reviewed records documenting 28,443 violations over a two-year period. The 50-page audit report paints a depressing picture of commercial dog breeding operations in America and a damning critique of the agency that is supposed to regulate them.
The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) started their investigations into David Salinas began back when he was selling puppies online out of his garage, something they say is illegal.
In 2012, Salinas opened a pet shop in San Diego. Shortly thereafter, CAPS uncovered numerous local and state code violations. An in-depth CAPS investigation of San Diego Puppy revealed that he purchased puppies from The Hunte Corporation, the largest USDA-licensed dog brokerage facility in the country. This facility, based in Missouri, ships out 1,000 to 2,000 puppies (and some kittens) a week to pet shops and Internet sellers throughout the United States (including Puerto Rico, which has a very serious dog and cat overpopulation problem with many abandoned animals suffering on the streets), Canada, Mexico, South America, Japan, Spain and other overseas destinations. Salinas heavily advertises on sites like Oodle, Backpage, Next Day Pets and Ebay – continuing his online presence.
Back to the Opposing Views article:
As for San Diego Puppy’s distributor, the Hunte Corporation, David Salinas says labeling it a puppy mill is a lie.
“They’re a Christian-based company,” he stated. “I know how they work, I know how they operate, and they do a fantastic job.”
The whole San Diego Puppy story reminds me of the Dan Aykroyd Saturday Night Live skit where he plays a toy company executive defending unsafe products made by his company.
Border Storming Mystery Continues
On Sunday officers with the US Border Patrol used pepperballs and batons to repel a crowd of more than 100 people attempted to cross the Tijuana River flood-control channel. The crowd pelted officers with rocks and trash before retreating back into Mexico.
Questions about why these confrontations, termed a near riot in some news accounts, remain unanswered. The Los Angeles Times says it may not have been a simple case of desperate people trying to get into the United States:
…according to the Tijuana newspaper, El Mexicano, the migrants may have been unwitting participants in a feature film. Recruited at a downtown soup kitchen, the migrants were reportedly told to show up at the border Sunday afternoon so they could reunite with their families in the U.S. The migrants were not told that the attempted crossing would be a scene in a film, according to the El Mexicano report.
The prospect that a film crew exploited the migrants concerned some immigrant advocates.
“We don’t condone this type of action. It is irresponsible and places people in harm’s way,” said Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee.
A story on KPBS attributes the confrontation to a mystery organizer:
Deportees in Tijuana said plans to rush the border had been in the works for a week.
It all started with a guy handing out pocket-sized fliers at the Padre Chava breakfast hall for migrants and deportees in Tijuana. The fliers called for a mass border crossing on Nov. 24.
“So that we can reunite with our children, families,” the flier read in small, Spanish text. “And for those who want the American dream and so that we can help our families succeed,” the flier continued in rambling fashion, ending with a call for discretion and “Sí se puede!” written three times.
A story in the San Diego Reader suggests that the group was part of a poorly organized radical brigade:
They group called it part of the “Viva Villa” movement and claimed to be a revolutionary brigade. But with no organization and no plan of what they were actually going to do, the only thing they achieved was to put Border Patrol officers on the defense. The migrants never attempted to jump the fence but their progress was allegedly halted by pepperball guns, tasters, and pepper spray.
The group of people — including two couples who had brought their kids — walked up the steeply inclined concrete channel wall until they nearly came to the lip of the U.S. side, which is where they met resistance. The confrontation lasted for around 15 minutes.
When hope was lost and they realized their attempt was a failure, the group of migrants started shouting “¡Viva Villa!” and threw rocks and other debris toward officers; some were hit, but reportedly none required medical attention.
The account in El Mexicano said the organizing went on for weeks at a daily breakfast for homeless migrants, with pamphlets handed out by a man who refused to identify himself and evaded questions about where he was from. The story suggests the migrants were duped into thinking they were participating in a remake of “Born in East LA”. An internet search reveals no information about such a remake being planned.
Deleted Commentary from Doug Manchester’s Favorite Scholar
Those of us unfortunate enough to read the Daily Fishwrap on a regular basis remember an extensive ad campaign last year for “2016: Obama’s America”, a purported documentary made by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financed by UT-San Diego Doug Manchester.
A Newsday critic called the film “an attempt at character assassination,” but the GOP faithful turned out to watch it and it’s generally considered a commercial success. Things haven’t gone so well for D’Souza, who left his post as president of the religiously oriented King’s College after being confronted with evidence of unchristian behavior with a woman, who happened not to be his wife.
Yesterday D’Souza reappeared on the news radar briefly after posting (and then deleting) the following on Twitter:
“I am thankful this week when I remember that America is big enough and great enough to survive Grown-Up Trayvon in the White House!”
(Trayvon Martin is the Black youth shot by neighborhood watch gunman George Zimmerman.)
Starting Line on Hiatus (!)
I’ll be taking the weekend off. If anything really earth-shattering occurs I’ll post a special edition of this column. Otherwise, see you Monday!
On This Day: 1779 – The College of Pennsylvania became the University of Pennsylvania. It was the first legally recognized university in America. 1967– Capitol Records released the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album. 1978 – San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights activist, were shot to death inside City Hall by Dan White, a former supervisor.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@