Global Animal, Oct 11, 2011; Madison Rootenberg
Global Animal just received news that shopping center developer Macerich is banning sales of live animals in more than 70 malls across the US. This new humane policy designed to break the puppy mill business chain is taking effect nationwide within 30 days. Macerich confirmed that they will not renew the leases of existing pet stores that sell animals and in their place, are opening humane stores offering adoptions of rescued pets.
Some of the high profile shopping malls include Los Angeles’ Westside Pavilion, which is opening a rescue store this month in association with the nonprofit Friends of LA Shelters, Scottsdale’s Fashion Square, Chesterfield Towne Center in Richmond, Virginia, and Santa Monica Place.
The mall developer’s pet sale ban was a year in the making and in large part, is the result of the efforts of film producer and animal activist, Jennifer Peterson. Hers is a story of how a personal experience can illuminate one’s calling and be a beacon for larger change.
Ms. Peterson grew up in Los Angeles adopting animals and surrounded herself with likeminded rescuers. When a close friend purchased a “designer” dog from BarkWorks pet store in Westside Pavilion, the animal lover became an animal activist.
“I had a gut feeling it was bad,” Peterson explains. The pet store dog became sick within a week of purchase, and Jennifer began to suspect a puppy mill connection. Jennifer Peterson contacted BarkWorks and according to Peterson, the pet store refused to take any responsibility for the sick pup.
Peterson began researching puppy mills and how the industry supplies pet stores with dogs who endure horrific conditions. She started a Facebook page called “Boycott BarkWorks,” where people could post their experiences and reactions. The page developed into a place to protest puppy mills and stores like BarkWorks that sell bred animals.
Jennifer reached out to her friend Randy Brant, who is Macerich’s VP of Leasing. Brant and others at Macerich knew little about puppy mills and were appalled by what Jennifer Peterson had shared.
“I thought if I talked to him about how terrible it is, maybe there was a chance they might go humane,” Peterson said. She contacted all 74 Macerich shopping centers to find out how many pet stores offered rescued animals for adoption versus those with dogs bred for sale. The numbers were disheartening for any animal lover.
Jennifer Peterson, Randy Brant and his wife, Dahli, worked for a year to help Macerich develop the companywide pet sale ban in their malls.
“Communities love and support adoption. We are hoping this starts a domino effect with other mall leasing companies across the country. Let’s get these shops out of business,” said Peterson.
Macerich is proud of their trailblazing pet sale ban and hope to demonstrate that animal welfare is good business. Encouraged by this landmark policy change, Peterson is redoubling her efforts to shut down the entire puppy mill industry. She’s certain it can happen by “ordinary” people getting involved.
“If you see a pet store, write a letter. Complain. Find out who the leasing company is and let them know about puppy mills. Get involved and reach out to who you know. I did something about it and I’m not special. Two years ago I had never even been to a protest. People can do it.”