ST. GEORGE – While the ASPCA and the Humane Society add their voices to Utahns urging Gov. Herbert to veto what has become known as the “ag gag” bill, animal advocates here in St. George took a more pointed approach.
Protesters gathered this morning in front of Sue’s Pet Castle to protest the store’s alleged sale of puppies bred in puppy mills.
By publication March 14, organizer Mary Bemis called animal activists to cross-swords with Sue’s. Her email began:
“I just got word she has a whole load of puppies for sale and heard they arrived from the midwest, as we all know what that means, they have come from the houses of horror puppy mills across the midwest. She is holding a big sale, which means she has a lot of them and is needing to sell them to get her money now. … I was told she has a pug in a kennel so small it is cruel. “
Bemis’s call to action urged her recipients to show up this morning, prepared with protest signs, bottles of water, chairs and hats. She instructed protesters to not park in the parking lot .
J. C. Schilling of B.A.M., Because Animals Matter, joined the call to protest by disseminating the email further with her endorsement:
“If anyone wants to protest the pet shops that buy from puppy mills this is your chance. Right in St. George. Take shade and a chair if you need to and go. … Ok with me if you want to wear BAM shirts just be polite and respectful while getting the message across that puppy mills are not OK and neither are the pet shops that sell puppies from those places.”
Schilling said she would be out of the area or she’d be there.
At 10 a.m. three protesters were there and two more showed up shortly thereafter. Brittany Albright and her boyfriend were on their way to the pawnshop to get some DVD’s when they saw the protesters. “It was like fate,” said Albright who said she hadn’t known about the protest but saw it and decided to come and protest.
“I purchased a dachshund from this shelter, Sue’s Pet Castle, about a week ago, just a week ago today, and we went to the vet and we tried to get help for it – and it wouldn’t – I don’t know,” Albright said, “they said it had parasites in its body that was just eating all its survivors, we’ve been to hell and back for it, like we tried to get it better, get it healthy and we just couldn’t.”
Albright said she had purchased the dachshund just last week and it died yesterday. She didn’t know if the animal was sick when she bought it, only that the parasite was eating his insides. She said the vet, Washington Family Vet*, checked and it was not parvo.
Bemis was there leading the protest, cap on, signs in hand, donning a white tee shirt emblazoned with a pitiful puppy and blue lettering that read, “Prisoners of Greed, Puppy Mills Breed Misery.” She explained her protest:
“My name is Mary Bemis, I am an animal advocate, I am an animal rescuer, I am a co-founder of P.A.W.S., Providing Animals With Support, here in St. George and I foster for H.A.R.T. Homeless Animals Rescue Team, and we are protesting puppy mill puppies. We are protesting puppy mills period which are horror houses across this nation that breed and breed and breed a commodity, not a living being but a commodity, to sell and make money off of, it’s all predicated upon how much money they can make and it’s all greed.”
Charlotte West, capped in pink over long red pony tail, with sign in hand declaring, “We protest puppy mills,” was all for the love of animals.
“I started getting involved when I got a dog from the St. George Shelter umpteen years ago,” West said, “and it was the best dog in the world and I had to give back. And now we do rescue. And we used to put them in the Pioneer Shopper and we rescued all these animals, over 1200 in 8 years. I understand its still in there, I don’t do it anymore. But for the love of animals so they have a good life.”
The protest was peaceable, one officer from the St. George Police Department was there monitoring the situation, and even an elderly woman who had difficulty walking turned away when she was told she had to move her yellow Volkswagen bug.
Among the interests of the ladies protesting was advocacy for rescues and pet adoptions. They pointed out that if you adopt from shelters, the animals are wonderful and there’s no reason they have to be put down. Right on point, Bemis introduce a little white dog, dolled up in a bright fuchsia sweater.
“This little poodle here is Pollyanna, and” said Bemis, “she’s up for adoption through H.A.R.T. “
Those interested in adopting Pollyanna may contact Mary Bemis at 435-674-1811 and may visit the H.A.R.T. website for further information.
Sue’s Pet Castle owner / personnel was present, pictured in blue shirt standing with St. George Policeman in photograph accompanying this story. He declined to comment.
*Input from Washington Family Vet on the condition of Albright’s dachsund has also been requested, with Albright’s permission, but no comment has been received as we go to publication.
Reporter / Photographer Troy Hoskins contributed to this article.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.