Animal advocates shot at during protest
Reward offered for
information on shooter
15-10-2009 By Kevin Herrerawrite, Santa Monica
Daily Press, USA
WILSHIRE BLVD -- Members of an animal rights
group were the victims of sniper fire during a protest here Saturday and are
offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the
The Companion Animal
Protection Society (CAPS) staged a protest in front of the Aquarium &
Pet Center to protest the retailer's alleged sale of "puppy mill" dogs, or
purebred pups that have been bred in inhumane conditions. That's when the
shots rang out.
Three protesters were hit with what was later
determined to be brass pellets fired from a high-powered air rifle. The
protesters suffered minor injuries, said Sgt. Jay Trisler with the Santa
Monica Police Department, which is asking for the public's help in
identifying the shooter.
Carole Raphaelle Davis, the West Coast
director of CAPS, said several protesters gathered in the afternoon along
the sidewalk in front of the pet store to shout, wave signs and warn those
passing by about puppy mills and the stores that sell them.
extremely unsettling that in the middle of this peaceful protest, violence
erupted," Davis said. "This was the first time violence has been a part of
these protests and that is very frightening."
Davis said the attack
occurred at a time when there is a "highly charged atmosphere" when it comes
to animal rights. The Santa Monica City Council recently voted in favor of
banning cat declawing and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that
would have put caps on the number of animals used in puppy mills, becoming
the only governor in the six states where puppy mill legislation passed this
year to override it with a veto. Jeffrey Prang, a City Councilman from West
Hollywood, which has also banned cat declawing, is working on an ordinance
to ban the re-selling of any pets except bred or rescued animals in that
Davis said employees with the Aquarium & Pet Center threatened
the protesters and were seen laughing after the shots were fired.
store's owner, Scott Lee, said his employees were not involved in the attack
and does not purchase animals from mills.
"We get ours from local
breeders -- ," Lee said. "[The accusations are] not true."
owned the pet store since 1985 and said he has a loyal customer base.
try my best to avoid problems," he said.
The Humane Society of the
United States said many dogs bred in mills have immediate health problems
and can harbor genetic diseases that surface years later. There is a pledge
available on the society's Web site that pet stores can sign to show their
opposition to the use of mills.
Mills are licensed by the United
States Department of Agriculture.