Linda Lambert didn't set out to become part of a protest. She just wanted a German shepherd.
The Norwalker had been trying unsuccessfully to find a purebred through area shelters (her previous shepherd came from the Bridgeport pound), and she "found herself heading into" Puppies of Westport . There were protesters outside.
"I stopped to talk to them and they told me all about where these puppies come from," she said. "I then proceeded into the store and I checked out that they [the protesters] were telling the truth, and they were."
Lambert is now a member of the Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills , a group whose main activity is protesting Puppies of Westport. When the store moved to Norwalk last fall, the group followed. Weather permitting, on Saturday afternoons its members are out on Connecticut Avenue, holding up signs condemning the source of the store's puppies.
"We're raising awareness about puppy mills and their connection to pet store puppies," said Allison Allen of Westport. Allen and others allege that the conditions the puppies are produced under are inhumane.
The clerk at Puppies of Westport said Monday that questions about the issue would need to be referred to the store's owner. The owner was unavailable for comment.
Allen said that while puppy breeding is subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that ensures only minimal standards of cleanliness. She said that under USDA rules, a breeding dog can spend 12 years in a cage the size of a dishwasher and never be let out.
The women say that anyone who goes into the store can read the names of the breeders on tags next to the display cases. They recommend that customers Google the names and volunteer to do the Internet search for anyone who needs help. They also promise to help anyone who has bought a sick puppy.
The coalition has grown since the store moved to Norwalk, Allen said. "Norwalk is more concerned and more proactive," she added.
Still, she thought there has been an uptick in business for Puppies of Westport. Two puppies had been sold while the group was protesting across the street Saturday afternoon. Members agreed the store is a great place to take children there are puppies everywhere.
As the group waved their signs, many drivers honked and a few gave thumbs up.
Lacey Fisher of Greenwich said that though some drivers indicate opposition to the protesters, "We get a lot more honks. So it's clear people think [the store is] a problem."
What do you think? Have you gotten a puppy at Puppies of Westport?
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