Southpark Mall Supports Puppy Mill Brokers Despite Evidence

Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer.

- Julian Casablancas

IMG_5077

We all know cash is king, and easy money is the best money.  Let’s face it, corporations’ sole reason for existing is to make more money.  But at what cost?  When does the search for more money become inexcusable due to the swath of destruction of innocents that lay in its wake?  In other words, is the enrichment of corporations and businesses acceptable if the cost is the  health and safety of innocent animals?

Over the past three years, Darwin Dogs has been picketing Southpark Mall over their support of puppy mills by allowing Pick of the Litter and Petland continue their practices in the mall.  Council meetings have been attended by those horrified by what goes on in the mall.  So what information has come to light recently?  And more importantly, why is Southpark Mall’s management ignoring this information, even at the cost of risking their shopper’s health and safety? Is animal abuse really acceptable in return for a better bottom line?  Read the disturbing evidence for yourself.

 1) Strongsville Animal Control Officer, Chuck McCleary, had visited Tom Collins 22 times in the past year.

Exactly what has  McCleary been inspecting? The recent photo of the very sick husky above was taken by me, personally, on Sept.20, 2019, and posted to Darwin Dogs’ Facebook platform.  In a series of Facebook posts, as well as PM’s, McCleary reached out to inform me that the dog in the picture “is by itself, in its own cage not on display on oral antibiotics.”  That dog looked about as far from “by itself” as the dog could possibly get. IMG_47952) City of Strongsville’s own ordinance states that is an individually is criminally liable if they

“Keep animals… in an enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air” *

and

“Whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. In addition, the court may order the offender to forfeit the animal or livestock and may provide for its disposition including, but not limited to, the sale of the animal or livestock.” *

To put it bluntly, Tom Collins’ puppies, as well as his breeding cats, never see the light of day once he acquirers them.  They are never taken out of their pens for healthy exercise.  So every day that his puppy mill store has been operating, he has violated Strongsville law, and McCLeary would have seen this all 22 times he inspected in the last year.  As a matter of fact,he may have seen the same exact animals in the same exact cages over the past year.

 

c. 2018 Pick of the Litter

c. 2018 Pick of the Litter

Why is this happening? The account of one person I spoke with may shed some light on this.  Speaking with her, she informed me that,  “Chuck McCleary flat out told me he is a friend of Tom’s when called because he had a dog for sale in the store with a note on it saying it was found in the parking lot of the mall that day.”  The individual I spoke with was an employee at the mall at the time, which was a bit over a year ago. The mall employee went on further to state that, “The warden chewed me out for calling him and that he wasn’t going to do anything to Tom, and they’ve been friends for a long time, and as far as he was concerned, Tom was doing it a favor.”

I have asked McCleary if he is indeed friends with Tom Collins; he denied any such relationship.  

3) Falsification of vaccination records/medical history **  Kaylin, a local animal advocate as well as a vet tech, recently adopted a puppy from Pick of the Litter, against her better judgment, based solely on the fact of how far in distress one of the puppies looked.  She adopted her puppy on July 14, 2018.  Having a vet tech background, Kaylin knew that the puppy was only 6-8 weeks old on the day of adoption.  POTL told her the puppy was 4 months old.  Kaylin knew better, as her puppy had absolutely no adult teeth in her mouth. To make matters worse, Kaylin was told by the employees to give the puppy crushed Fruit Loops on top of her dry food, as the puppy was hypoglycemic.  And if she didn’t, her puppy may go in and out of consciousness.

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville.  He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.  c 2018

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville. He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.  c. 2018

In Kaylin’s own words, “Well, also coming from a vet tech background, that does happen when you take a dog away from their mother too early and they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from the [mother's] milk.  If you have to do that, you supplement with some kind of simple syrup, like a Karo syrup, not Fruit Loops. That’s going to cost her in the long run.” And unfortunately, Kaylin has had plenty of problems with her Pick of the Litter puppy.  “Allergies, and things of that nature”, she stated, “Probably because her immune system didn’t get to be fully developed.”

But that was just the start of Kaylin’s problems with her puppy. remember, according to POTL, her puppy was 4 months old, born in March 2018.  Kaylin believed her puppy to be 6-8 weeks of age, born on or about May 19-31 and her vet confirmed it.  That made the vaccination records POTL provided to Kaylin with her new pup extremely disturbing:

 

“The records I have from Pick of the Litter for this dog are, some of the vaccine records written in.  Working in a vet clinic myself, you take the lot number sticker off the vial, and you put it on the record for if there is any recall or any issue.  Three of these are handwritten in.  There’s no lot numbers. “

Even more disturbing evidence presented itself on the vaccination records, as Kaylin explained.  The dates POTL has stated for the vaccinations of Kaylin’s puppy were before the puppy was even born.  According to Kaylin (a vet tech) and Kaylin’s own veterinarian, the puppy was born some time between May 19-31.  According to POTL, the puppy’s first shots were given on:

- April 21 (4 weeks before the puppy’s birth)
- May 3 (2 weeks before the puppy’s birth)
- May 20 (the week of birth)
- May 25 (the week of birth)

 

Parvo and distemper are both very contagious, deadly infections, for which this puppy was never properly vaccinated against.  During the Oct. 1 council meeting, Tom Collins stated, “I know the difference between a four week old puppy and an eight week old puppy.  A lot of vet techs know everything and they don’t know everything.  I’ve been in the business for 35 years.” *

As Kaylin puts it, though,  ”This is just a blatant, falsified record of my puppy.”

Falsifying health records is a very serious thing, especially if you are supplying your store with puppies from unethical breeders.  Evidence was given that the sick husky puppy photographed above, as well as puppies in the store, had been dosed with “metro” (Metronidazole), due to diarrhea.  Metronidazole is used to treat:

Animal Control Officer McCleary even stated in a comment that, according to his inspection at the beginning of October this year, “…this dog came from the breeder this way, and was going to be put to sleep”.  He further states that, “…in reality it was saved [by POTL] from euthanasia by the breeder”.

Yet Tom Collins vehemently denies being involved with unethical breeders and puppy mills.

Southpark Mall is allowing these infected puppies in their establishment and allowing children to come in contact with them right before heading to the food court to eat. Evidence has also shown that Tom Collins falsifies his vaccination records, so who knows what else your children may pick up while there.  But enjoy Southpark’s indoor trick-or-treat event on Sunday, October 27!  Candy and parasites for everyone!

What about all the bite instances we’ve been hearing about?  It’s the most disturbing and gruesome story I’ve heard so far (and that’s saying a lot).   I spoke personally with the witness, Ken, and here’s what he had to say.

Date of incident Aug 17, 2019

A puppy was kenneled in fish tank with other different dogs from a different litter. Puppy was in a 50-100 gallon fish tank. At least 7-8 dogs in there with him. I asked why he was in there, and an employee said that puppy (pittie) was in there b/c of the bite. A little kid was touching the puppy, and child was unsupervised, and there were no employees around. At least three employees were working that day, but nobody was with the public in the store, which was crowded. Dog jumped up and nipped the child. Employee told me that if nobody bought it, they would try to give it back to the breeder, and otherwise they would “put it down”.  If the breeder didn’t take it back or if nobody bought it, it would be euthanized. I tried to find a home a home for the dog, but couldn’t.

POTL tried to sell the dog to Ken for $750 initially. Half an hour later, the employee said that the breeder didn’t want it and Ken could have the puppy for $30 . Ken tried to find a way to take the dog home, or find someone to take it, but he couldn’t as he has a newborn, and nobody else he contacted could take it.

The last image ever seen of the brindle pittie before he disappeared.  Alone and scared, tightly packed in with other dogs, all for the crime of being born a puppy mill dog.

The last images ever seen of the brindle pittie before he disappeared. Alone and scared, tightly packed in a fishtank with other puppies, all for the crime of being born a puppy mill dog.

IMG_5017

We can only guess what eventually happened to the the poor pittie in the photo. By law, the puppy should have been micro-chipped within 24 hours of his arrival at POTL.  Most likely, it wasn’t so we will never know.

But what about the individuals who are allowing this to continue?  Let’s face it, money talks.  Unfortunately, the puppy mill dogs and cats that Tom Collins deals with are unable to speak for themselves.It’s time we stand for those who have no voice. Learn more here.

Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse. Let them know via Facebook that you won’t stand for this mistreatment of animals. Or call/send a letter:

Southpark Mall c/o Starwood Retail Managers 500 SouthPark Center Strongsville, OH 44136 (440) 238-9199

Join us at our next protest.  You can find out when we are protesting next on the Darwin Dogs Facebook page. So in short, protests bring a lot of attention to situations like Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, but at the end of the day, not all of us are willing/able/crazy enough to protest outside in all kinds of weather.  The way to shut these establishments down can be as simple as one phone call.  One email.  One review.  Let them know this won’t be tolerated anymore, and that we demand better. And we will fight for it. -  For more information on puppies and puppy mills, read this. – For information about AKC and breeding practices, read this. – For information on why puppies suck anyway and you should adopt an older dog instead, read this.

keep

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

* See Sections 618.05(a)&(c) of Strongsville Code **See Strongsville City Council minutes for meeting dated Oct. 1, 2018, available here

How to End Puppy Mills & Brokers – Starting with Tom Collins

Heartbreaker, soul-shaker I’ve been told about you
- Nazarath

puppies

I feel as if I can legitimately call myself an animal advocate.   I’m not vegan – I have dog hair in every meal. #ShepherdLife

 

But still, I will help an animal in need, and speak for those who have no voice.  Right now the focus for me is puppy mills, and their slimy colleagues, puppy mill brokers and puppy mill flippers.

Puppy Mill Flipper (n): A person who knowingly goes into a puppy mill to purchase a  puppy with the intent of flipping the puppy for profit.  See also Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter.

So recently I (kinda) met The Man.  Tom Collins.  He showed up to the council meeting on October 1 to defend his actions. To bring you up to date, there have been many grievances filed against Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, which were eventually brought to my attention.  I wrote an open letter to him, asking to hear Tom’s side of the tale (tail?) but I never heard back. So after doing some research, I held the first protest against his establishment on January 2017 (to all 35 of you who stayed 2 hours outside protesting in 11 degree weather: thank you,and I’m so sorry!)

I froze my tauntauns off!!

I froze my tauntauns off!!

We’ve had subsequent protests where we have fried in the heat, frozen again, and then finally had nice weather, but let me ask this:  who goes to these events, in this kind of weather, missing Game of Thrones, to protest a pet store?

Dedicated animal lovers do.  It’s not fun for us.  It kinda sucks.  But we develop a solidarity. We know why we are here: for the animals.  So we suck it up.  Just as we did tonight (though I wizened up and moved the meeting to City Council…indoors!).

#Solidarity.  No, literally, we were frozen solid. #YetWePersisted

#Solidarity. No, literally, we were frozen solid. #YetWePersisted

So we took it to Strongsville City Council.  First, I would like to thank Council.  It seemed to me that they took our grievances quite seriously.  Strongsville Law Director, Neal M. Jamison addressed our concerns and made note that due to legislation HB60 (“Goddard’s Law”) passing back in 2016, City Council’s hands were tied with regard to regulating puppy mills and brokers, as governance had remanded to the state level.  He also made note that Tom Collins & Pick of the Litter had been visited by Animal Welfare over 20 times in the last year, yet has found no violations.  Well, things have changed since a year and a half ago.

HB 506 passed this year, governing the regulations for how the dogs are to be treated.

Cage Space:
- Ceiling must be at least 6 inches higher than the dog’s head
-Floor space should be length of dog, tip-to-tail,  plus 9 inches, squared, x 2.  We had Sheldon do the math for you.

 

For dog below, that would be roughly 15.12 sq. feet of floor space.  Doesn’t look like he’s getting it.

pitbull pol

 

Exercise:
Daily exercise of at least 30 minutes, given opportunity for mental stimulation and socialization, and run at full stride during daylight hours.

I spoke with a former employee (Tom calls them “volunteers”) of Pick of the Litter, who, under condition of anonymity, stated:

“Tom didn’t like the dogs to run around.  They were kept mostly in the cages at all times. He didn’t allow volunteers to take the dogs out to play.”

Finally, and most importantly under Ohio’s new animal welfare law, H.B.506:

-Prior to purchasing a dog, broker [Pick of the Litter/Tom Collins] MUST request breeder sign document stating compliance with standards of care established.  If breeder doesn’t supply documentation, broker shall not purchase dog. Documentation available for inspection during store hours. Effective immediately.

There was absolutely no documentation available.  No standards of care, no inspection availability, regardless of which employee was asked.

So let’s delve deeper.

Rescue vs. Pet Store

Tom Collins keeps stating that he “rescues” dogs. Let’s see what HB506 has to say about that (emphasis added):

“Animal rescue for dogs” means an individual or organization recognized by the director of agriculture that keeps, houses, and maintains dogs and that is dedicated to the welfare, health, safety, and protection of dogs, provided that the individual or organization does not operate for profit, does not sell dogs for a profit, does not breed dogs, does not sell dogs to a dog broker or pet store, and does not purchase more than nine dogs in any given calendar year unless the dogs are purchased from a dog warden appointed under Chapter 955. of the Revised Code, a humane society, or another animal rescue for dogs. “Animal rescue for dogs” includes an individual or organization that offers spayed or neutered dogs for adoption and charges reasonable adoption fees to cover the costs of the individual or organization, including, but not limited to, costs related to spaying or neutering dogs.

Sorry, Tom. You're a pet store/broker

Sorry, Tom. You’re a pet store/broker

Average cost of a puppy is $1,000 at Pick of the Litter. Sorry, Tom.  Pick of the Litter is a pet store, not a rescue.

“Pet store” means an individual retail store to which both of the following apply: the store sells dogs to the public; and with regard to the sale of a dog from the store, the sales person, the buyer of a dog, and the dog for sale are physically present during the sales transaction so that the buyer may personally observe the dog and help ensure its health prior to taking custody.

Falsified medical records given by Pick of the Litter, as presented and taken into record during the Strongsville Council Meeting on October 1, 2018, show that the animals’ health conditions are not being observed and recorded, as required as a pet store.

Dog Brokers

Tom Collins claims he is not a dog broker:

“Dog broker” means a person who buys, sells, or offers to sell dogs at wholesale for resale to another or who sells or gives one or more dogs to a pet store annually.

If Tom is buying the dogs through various puppy mills (it’s okay, though, folks; he shops only at local puppy mills), that means Tom is the broker who is then selling as an entity, Pick of the Litter. Tom is the broker.  Pick of the Litter is the pet store. So how does HB506 apply to brokers?

Sec. 956.03. (A)(9)(a) States that:

A requirement that an in-state retailer of a puppy or adult dog provide to the purchaser the complete name, address, and telephone number of all high volume breeders, dog retailers brokers, and private owners that kept, housed, or maintained the puppy or adult dog prior to its coming into the possession of the retailer or proof that the puppy or adult dog was acquired through an animal rescue for dogs, animal shelter for dogs, or humane society, or a valid health certificate from the state of origin pertaining to the puppy or adult dog;

 

I’m sorry, Tom.  You have yet to identify from whom you’ve purchased your dogs (aside from identifying them simply as “in-state breeders”). You mean like these? Nine of the worst puppy mills in the country are located less than a 45 minute drive away from Tom’s house.

ohio-webPhoto Credit: Bailing out Benji

Section Sec. 956.041.

(B) A dog broker or the owner or operator of a pet store that seeks to purchase a dog from an in-state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder, prior to completing the transaction, shall request the breeder to sign a document prescribed and provided by the director of agriculture. The document shall state that the in-state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder is in compliance with the standards of care established in rules adopted under section 956.03 and in section 956.031 of the Revised Code. The broker or owner or operator shall keep and maintain the signed document. If the in- state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder does not provide the signed document, the broker or owner or operator shall not purchase the dog. The broker or owner or operator shall allow the director to inspect the signed document during normal business hours. With respect to a pet store, the requirements established under this section are in addition to the requirements established under section 956.20 of the Revised Code. (C) No dog broker or owner or operator of a pet store shall knowingly sell a dog unless the broker or owner or operator has obtained a signed document with respect to the dog as required under division (B) of this section. The director shall not assess a civil penalty under section 956.13 of the Revised Code against a dog broker or the owner or operator of a pet store for a violation of this division if the broker or owner or operator has obtained such a document with regard to the dog.

Which is legal-speak for, “Where did you get your dogs from again, Tom?”  For a complete break down of how the new law affects dog brokers, pet stores and “puppy mill flippers”, like Tom Collins, please check out this link.

So how do we solve this little problem?  A few ways.

1) Contact the Department of Agriculture. Like, now. Let them know that Pick of the Litter is non-compliant with regard to the information above.  Demand inspection. Send letters, emails, carrier pigeons or even owls!

Whatever it takes:

Office of Chief Legal Counsel
8995 E. Main Street
Reynoldsburg,Ohio 43068
Phone: (614) 728-6430
Fax: (614) 995-4585

2) Contact Strongsville City Council, as well as the Mayor’s office.  Find out why they are allowing pet stores in their city, whom they know are breaking the law.

The City of Strongsville
Attn: City Council
16099 Foltz Parkway
Strongsville, Ohio 44149
440 580 3100
Email(s)
michael.daymut@strongsville.org,
ann.roff@strongsville.org,
kelly.kosek@strongsville.org,
gordon.short@strongsville.org,
jim.carbone@strongsville.org,
matt.schonhut@strongsville.org
city@strongsville.org

3) Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse.

Southpark Mall
c/o Starwood Retail Managers
500 SouthPark Center
Strongsville, OH 44136
(440) 238-9199

4) Join us at our next protest.  You can find out when we are protesting next on the Darwin Dogs Facebook page.

So in short, protests bring a lot of attention to situations like Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, but at the end of the day, not all of us are willing/able/crazy enough to protest outside in all kinds of weather.  The way to shut these establishments down can be as simple as one phone call.  One email.  One review.  Let them know this won’t be tolerated anymore, and that we demand better. And we will fight for it.

-  For more information on puppies and puppy mills, read this.

- For information about AKC and breeding practices, read this.

- For information on why puppies suck anyway and you should adopt an older dog instead, read this.

keep

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland Ohio