November 12, 2009 12:25 ET

Companion Animal Protection Society Protests Responsible for Aquarium & Pet Center Decision to Go Humane

Animal Advocates Alliance Helped Negotiate Pet Store Decision

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - November 12, 2009) - The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) and Animal Advocates Alliance (AAA) are proud to announce that Aquarium & Pet Center in Santa Monica, California, is converting to a humane business model. The pet store, which has been in business for over 20 years, has decided to no longer sell dogs from inhumane commercial breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills. The Aquarium & Pet Center, owned by Mr. Scott Lee, will now work with rescue organizations to promote adoptable animals from the Los Angeles municipal shelter system.

The Aquarium & Pet Center had been the target of an ongoing investigation linking the store to the Hunte Corporation, a notorious puppy mill broker in the Midwest. In addition to dogs supplied from inhumane breeding factories in the Midwest, some of the pups sold in the store were found to be from an overcrowded and substandard commercial breeding operation just outside of Los Angeles. This is the fourth store in Los Angeles to succumb to investigations and protests by The Companion Animal Protection Society in the past four months. The other stores no longer selling puppy mill dogs include Elaine's Pet Depot, Elite Animals and Pets of Wilshire.

"We congratulate Mr. Lee, his family and his staff on their wise and compassionate decision to become a humane pet store," said Carole Raphaelle Davis, West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society. "Consumer taste is evolving and retailers need to pay attention in this economy. Shoppers want a greener car, cage free eggs and non-polluting household products. They don't want a puppy mill pet. They want a pet that is cruelty-free. Mr. Lee's decision is an enormous victory for the animal protection movement and in the longer term, for dogs and cats suffering in inhumane breeding operations around the nation. The decision also has far reaching benefits for pets in the Los Angeles shelter system, as they will now have an additional place to be seen and adopted in up-scale Santa Monica. Now, instead of selling intact animals from factories, the store will be a happy place to shop and adopt, breaking the cycle of misery in the puppy and kitty pipe line from factory to shelter to euthanasia. We encourage consumers to shop at Aquarium & Pet Center now that they have gone humane."

Mr. Lee is proud of his achievement. "As I get closer to retirement," said Mr. Lee, "I would like to make the right choice to help homeless pets and educate and support the community in the process. This is a proud decision for me and my family."

Phillip Gharabegian, of the Animal Advocates Alliance was also instrumental in negotiating the agreement. "Animal Advocates Alliance is pleased that Mr. Lee has committed to a humane business model," said Mr. Gharabegian. "They have chosen to set a positive example for other retail pet stores. Mr. Lee has now become a part of the solution rather than supporting irresponsible breeders who profit from the dreadful suffering of animals."

As a result of the agreement, the protests of the store will be called off. The dogs that are currently in the store will be put up for adoption at a celebration event at noon, on Saturday, November 14th.

CAPS had organized three weekend protests in front of the store. On October 10th, the protest was interrupted by violence, when dozens of animal rights activists were shot at by an unknown assailant with a high powered air rifle, spraying them with two millimeter brass slugs. Two of the protesters were slightly injured. The police investigation into the shooting is ongoing and there is a $5000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Media inquiries/interviews:

Carole Raphaelle Davis, author of "The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife" and West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society, can be reached at 310-990-5758

To reach Animal Advocates Alliance please contact Julia Cody at

Footage of protest:

KTLA news story:

About CAPS

Founded by President Deborah Howard in 1992, Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills. CAPS actively addresses the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance and pet industry employee relations.

Animal Advocates Alliance is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the humane treatment of animals through legal advocacy, effecting social change through community education initiatives and supporting animal rescue organizations.

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