Pet store ribbon-cutting in Washington triggers protest from animal rights people

WASHINGTON CITY — The ribbon-cutting ceremony of a new pet store in Washington City sparked a demonstration by animal rights activists Thursday.

The ceremony was held to celebrate the grand opening of The Puppy Store, 1055 W. Red Cliffs Drive, and was attended by Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson as well as members of the Washington City Council and representatives from the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce.

The store opened its doors two weeks ago and the ribbon-cutting was an opportunity to reach out to the community and mark the store’s official launch, David Salinas, The Puppy Store manager, said.

The Puppy Store located at 1055 W. Red Cliffs Drive celebrated ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday amid protesters, Washington City, Utah, June 22, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“We are really excited that we had our ribbon-cutting ceremony today and are happy to be a part of this community,” Salinas said.

The ceremonies were held inside of the building while a protest was being held in the parking lot outside as approximately 10 individuals from several animal rights activist groups gathered.

Demonstrators from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab and the Southern Utah Animal Alliance attended; as well, the Humane Society of the United States was represented by deputy district leader for the organization, Laurie Nelson-Barker.

Supporting local animal shelters was the focus of the demonstration, including the Washington County Animal Shelter currently under construction, which, Barker said, is a “community endeavor.”

The demonstrators said they are concerned that the new store’s dogs may be coming from puppy mills. Buying from a pet store destroys promoted pet adoption from local shelters and thereby adds to the problem.

“We wanted to bring attention to the problem with pet stores first of all, because most people don’t realize that almost every animal and every puppy sold at a pet store comes from a puppy mill,” Barker said.

Barker also said that pet stores in general contribute to the overpopulation of animals in the U.S. and that if everyone bought an animal from a shelter instead of a pet store the problem would be solved.

Additionally, for every animal purchased in a store another is left to die in shelter, she said.

Salinas refuted the claim that his puppies are supplied by puppy mills. He was unable to find any federally licensed breeders in Utah, he said. So he contracted with several out-of-state breeders that are properly licensed and in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the licenses.

“I’ve met many breeders, and these people genuinely care for what they are producing, and they are hard working people who are making a living at it,” he said.

Demonstrators from animal rights organizations attend ribbon-cutting ceremony of The Puppy Store Thursday, Washington City, Utah, June 22, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Salinas also said that the new store employs veterinarian technicians and qualified help to care for the animals who are all examined by a veterinarian several times before they are sold.

Salinas manages the Washington City store and owns others in California, he said, where three of the stores closed after city ordinances were passed that prohibited the sale of any dog, cat or rabbit that was not obtained from a public animal shelter or humane society organization.

He also said that a bill, designated as AB 485, proposed in the 2017-2018 session of the California Legislature would mandate those same restrictions statewide in California if passed. In part, that proposed legislation states:

This bill would prohibit, on and after July 1, 2018, a pet store operator from selling a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or nonprofit rescue or adoption organization that is in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter, as specified.

Las Vegas adopted a similar ordinance in January and joins more than 100 other communities across the U.S. that have enacted comparable bans, according to Best Friends Animal Society, which estimates that 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills are supplying animals to shops.

Salinas said that the city ordinances that are passing in California are closing pet stores, which include reputable businesses that care for animals.

Some individuals prefer to adopt an animal from a shelter while there are others who may want to purchase a puppy from a pet store, he said, but it’s a personal preference and should be the buyer’s choice.

Salinas also supports local shelters, adding that the Humane Society of the United States is trying to shut down all pet stores regardless of whether the store is reputable or not – or at least to make it illegal for any pet store to sell puppies.

There may be some truth to that statement.

According to a 2012 report released by the Humane Society, the organization is working to assist in passing local ordinances in various states to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores.

“Dozens of cities and counties across the country have passed these retail sales bans, further limiting the availability of pet stores to sell puppies,” the report stated.

Total percentage of Human Society grants used in each state according to a 2015 IRS form 990 analysis by HumaneWatch, April 12, 2017 | Image courtesy of, St. George News

“The Puppy Mills Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States is the largest, most aggressive, and most successful campaign fighting against the inhumane commercial dog breeding industry,” the organization stated, adding that the “campaign also recruits pet stores to sign a pledge not to sell puppies and encourages these stores to work with local shelters and rescue groups to encourage pet adoption.”

It is noted that there are organizations that oppose the Humane Society’s claims, challenging how funds collected by the Humane Society are allocated. One such organization, “HumaneWatch,” claims that less than one percent, or .068 percent, of the organization’s annual budget went directly to shelters or pet care, and more than $50 million paid fundraising costs according to the organization’s analysis of the Humane Society’s 2015 tax returns. The balance went to legal fees, operating costs and more than $5 million was spent on lobbying in 2015.

According to the the IRS, an organization does not qualify for nonprofit status “if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation,” using an expenditure test that is then analyzed.

A federal court case decided in May determined, as stated in a ruling by Judge John A. Kronstadt, in part: “The HSUS is a lobbying organization. Its success is predicated on its ability to maintain and use relationships with lawmakers.”

“To show our care for animals,” Salinas said, “both the puppies from quality, licensed breeders and our shelter animals here, we donated a check for $1,000 to the local shelter during the ribbon cutting.”

There has been no communication between Salinas and the protesters at the writing of this report.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • comments June 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Would be kinda funny if the store was named “the puppy mill”, and it’d be quite fitting. The biggest detriment to these kind of animals is actually how fast they breed. They basically breed so prolifically to the point of having no value. Imagine what a cat or dog would cost if they only had one kitten or pup per year. It’s a real sad situation for a lot of animals.

  • Caveat_Emptor June 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    It seems like this guy has a business opportunity by selling puppies, if he can show traceability to an American Kennel Club registered breeder, and therefore should be able to provide that documentation to a customer.
    This has got to be an ethical improvement to people selling puppies on the lawn at the supermarket parking lot………

    • chrisboortz June 24, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I went into the store their opening weekend and visited with a French bulldog puppy that they were asking $6,700 for. They showed me her paperwork. This company does not use the AKC, but rather the American Canine Association. I was told that the ACA was better than the AKC because they had higher standards for their breeders and offered continuing education. I found it odd that I had never heard of the ACA, and when I researched it later on the Internet, I discovered that it is considered a “bogus” registration that is primarily used by puppy mill operators. The breeder was listed as Thelma Smith of Dardanelle, Arkansas. After consulting a recent list of licensed USDA breeders, she was not on it.

      David Salinas has come under question for the source, quality and care of the puppies in his southern California stores. ( His business practices have also been called into question ( Consumers in the San Diego area have had plenty of bad experiences with his puppies and his stores, such as the one he owns in National City. (

      Please do some research on puppy mills and David Salinas’ stores before you consider purchasing a puppy from this business. As one of the people who was at this protest on Thursday, I encourage you to ask yourself this question: Why would 10 people take time off work and stand in 100º+ heat to protest this store? What do we have to gain from that? And at the same time, ask yourself what David Salinas stands to gain by claiming that his puppies are not from puppy mills? When he charges $6,700 for a puppy, the answer should be abundantly clear.

      • comments June 24, 2017 at 11:47 pm

        Very interesting. That better be one hell of a dog for nearly 7 large. I’ve never bought a dog or cat in my life, only paid adoption fees and such. Do u get a dog that ****s golden eggs for $7000? I just don’t see the allure of such things.

  • desertgirl June 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    My how the human race struggles to be civilized and decent. The world needs dog breeders like it needs more ISIS followers and cancer. STOP buying animals; you don’t really want an animal to love and receive love, you want a show piece like a new car or house, brand named label clothing. Until there are no animals starving, abused and dumped on the streets and no need for pet shelters: Adopt!! Shame on Washington City and County, and the rest of the country for allowing people to sell domestic animals in stores like groceries.

    • Sapphire June 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

      I agree! I got the sweetest pure bred little dog from the St. George shelter. She would have cost me $1000 if I had gone to a breeder. Adoption fee and neuter was no big deal and now she is my buddy.

  • Sedona June 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Should I adopt a pig or continue buying Jimmy Dean sausage?

    • comments June 24, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      You should go to the slaughter house, stand in line and wait your turn with the other pigs. clown 😉

      • Sedona June 25, 2017 at 9:26 am

        I must have offended your ancestral lineage.

  • Not_So_Much June 24, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Just wondering, that if I get 10 or 12 people together for or against one cause or another will it be covered by STG if you are given a heads up? What criteria do you use?

  • luvbug11 June 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Why arent these ppl at sues there have been so many cases of ppl saying how they have sick dogs from there. What makes this place different from sues pet castle?

    • An actual Independent June 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

      They have certainly worked on it. They also worked to educate people about a shop called Fur de Leash, which lost its lease and is no longer around.
      This is not at all about shutting down a small business. It is about ending the deplorable conditions in puppy mills. These folks are more than willing to support a different business model that doesn’t result in the abuse, illness, and death of huge numbers of innocent animals. There are many animal shelters and rescue groups with plenty of pets who need loving homes. They are more than willing to work with stores if it means providing good homes for unfortunate pets. Many of the animals in shelters are even registered purebreds, if that’s your cup of tea. And there are reputable breeders who do a very conscientious job of placing well cared for animals in appropriate homes.
      The owner of this puppy store has a well documented and easily verified history. Putting up a “not from puppy mills” sign doesn’t make it true. The truth is that reputable breeders simply will not supply puppies to stores, so they have to come from puppy mills.
      Puppy mills are just deplorable. No pet loving person would want to support what goes on in them. But they operate out of site, and the only way to stop them is to expose them to the light of day, and to shut down the demand (puppy stores) for their product. (And to them, the puppies are just that, a product to be mass produced as cheaply as possible).

  • Craig June 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I am a little concerned with claims that the puppies ARE PROBABLY from puppy mills and ALMOST ALL puppies in pet stores are from puppy mills.

    Protesting a business in this manner seems a bit unethical.

    The protesters also claim that people Winn now stop adopting pets from the Animsl Shelter. Again, this seems supposition rather than fact.

    It’s nice it was peaceful, but facts would help.

  • Conserve June 26, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Good luck to this free enterprise new store.

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