Latrobe Valley Express; BY NIKITA VAZ; 25 Aug, 2011
A PROTEST near a pet store has left the owners of the business “emotionally and financially strained” after protestors took their fight to the public.
Protesters rallied in front of Traralgon pet store In2Pets on the weekend to “create an awareness” in the community about puppies bought from puppy farms and later sold at local pet stores.
About 40 protesters stood outside the store demanding the closure of puppy factories and alleged the Traralgon store not only bought their puppies from a puppy mill, but also kept them in poor conditions.
The rally coincided with the store’s open day and left the owners of the business feeling “personally attacked”.
In2Pets business owner Ron Mallia said he promised protesters he would stop buying puppies from puppy farms after a seven month-old puppy was euthanised.
“We’ve sold over 108 puppies and kittens and only one died… I promised them we wouldn’t get our puppies from puppy farms, it’s an issue with the mills not us,” Mr Mallia said.
“It’s killing us, my daughter cried herself to sleep after they (the protesters) bombarded us with messages on Facebook.
“We’re not vultures, we’ve got pets of our own and we treat them as well as we treat ourselves.”
Co-owner Doris Mallia said she received numerous angry calls from protesters leaving both her husband and herself tired and “hurt”.
“I’ve already had three anxiety attacks… it’s going to affect our business,” Ms Mallia said.
“It breaks our heart when we see all this, we’re not heartless people.”
Ms Mallia said the store was the target of many angry protesters since February after the death of a puppy sold by the store.
“They (protesters) won’t listen to us, they call us, abuse us and tell us we’re only in it for the money,” she said.
The owners said they only wanted to be “left alone”, but protesters were not giving up without a fight.
Protest organiser Debra Tranter denied the protest was a personal attack on the Traralgon business.
“We wanted to show people the hidden industry behind pet stores,” Ms Tranter said.
“We have a history of campaigning in front of different stores so we weren’t personally targeting the store.”
She said protesters will soon be taking their fight to Parliament steps in Melbourne, to bring about a legislation to ban the sale of pets in pet stores.