Practical Issues >
Actions to Take >
Protesting for Beginners
a time-honored tradition and your legal right. Protests can be as
peaceful, legal, and safe as you wish, suitable for teens and elderly
people and everyone in between. We recommend protesting as often as you
can because you are more likely to have an impact that way.
that is once a week for 1 & 1⁄2 hours each time. We respect our
volunteers' schedules and always try to start and end the protests on
schedule. We base our protests on those of activist Janet Enoch, who
successfully closed down two Petlands through weekly protests.
you have never been to a protest, here are some tips on getting
We start out with the
assumption that if even two people show up, that’s enough for a protest.
That makes signs very important, because curious passers-by will read them
whether they are attached to a person or not. You want to make signs that
are as large as you can hold so that they can be easily seen. They should
have a very short, understandable message and should be neatly printed. If
possible, include some drawings or pictures of animals (from a yearly
calendar or a poster, for example). We include our website in smaller
print on each sign, as well. What we do is attach two signs to one wooden
stake, making a double sign. In that way, one person can hold two, even
four signs at the same time. You can pay a visit to your local arts and
crafts store to pick up these supplies:
board, at least 20 inches by 30 inches, as many as you need (Staples sells
foam board that's 32" by 40"--makes a very visible sign)
stencils, several different sizes
--magic markers of various sizes and
colors, including the jumbo ones
--clear plastic film
paints in the same colors as the markers
From a home
supply store, you can pick up:
--lightweight wooden stakes, about 46
--clear mailing tape
Here are some
examples of messages on our double signs:
- Petland’s private
breeders = puppy mills/Adopt from the shelter (picture of dog)
Boycott Petland!/Petland’s private breeders = puppy mills
Petland/Adopt from the shelter (picture of dog or cat)
- Don't buy
animals in stores/Adopt from the shelter (picture of animal)
- Save a
Life/Don’t breed or buy - Adopt! (pictures of parrot, iguana,
- Boycott Petland, Adopt Homeless (pictures of
animals)/ Adopten un animal sin casa!
- Adopt from rescue
groups/Boycott Petland (attach poster: Puppy mills breed misery, Free the
prisoners of Greed, available from http://www.hua.org/ )
Petland/Petland + puppy mills--partners in cruelty
- Boycott Petland
(attach Puppy mills breed misery poster)/Can't stand Petland (large poster
of a puppy)
- Boycott Petland/Adopt from rescue groups (picture of
- # Dogs killed in shelters every 5 minutes/ (poster of 30
- Boycott Petland!/Puppy mills in a red circle with a slash
through it. (You can make the large circle by tracing around the lid of a
large round object such as a trash can lid)
- Signs in Korean (or
whatever foreign language is commonly spoken in your area) that translate
to “Adopt a pet from an animal shelter” and “Don’t buy animals in
stenciling, use the largest letters that will fit on your foam board, and
follow the directions on the package to fill the words in with magic
markers. This takes a while! It could easily take a couple of hours to
make one sign. If the letters have gaps in them because the stencil is
supposed to be fancy, you can fill in the gaps to make the letters easier
to read. If you are in a hurry, you can make signs much more quickly by
just writing your message in jumbo magic marker, but it won't look as
nice. The magic marker also doesn't create a really dark color, so you can
touch that up with acrylic paint if you like.
If you’re going to be
protesting many times in all kinds of weather, it’s a good idea to try to
weatherproof your signs. We put clear plastic film over the front of the
sign and tape it with clear mailing tape. Clear contact paper can also be
used, but it’s harder to work with.
After the signs are done, we use
duct tape to tape two signs together, with a gap in the middle where you
can hold them. The duct tape holds better if it’s lengthwise along the
stake as well as sideways.
Finally, tape a gallon-sized plastic
zip-lock baggie to the back of your sign. You can store some fliers back
there and hand them out to interested passers-by.
You can also use
plastic banners. They’re kind of expensive when made at a sign shop, but
you could try making some homemade banners.
Fliers about puppy mills
available from many organizations, including In Defense of Animals, The
Humane Society of the United States, PETA, Friends of Animals, and others.
Hearts United for Animals has one with many photos of puppy mill dogs. A
dog named Hope on the front of that brochure. We stamp our website on
fliers in red to distinguish it from the rest of the print.
people going by want to know the alternative to pet stores. We hand out a
booklet that lists all the local shelters and rescue groups in the
We also hand out a “What You Can Do” sheet for people who want to
help fight the cruelty of pet stores through writing letters, making phone
We hand out a sheet giving the times and dates for upcoming
protests for those who want to join us at a future date.
We also have a
flier in Spanish, since many of the people shopping in our local Petland
Bring with you to the protest paper and pencil
for getting new names and e-mail addresses, and a camera or video camera
in case anyone harasses you.
Before you start your
protest, find out where private property stops and public property begins.
You can do this by calling the local police or the Department of Public
Works. You need to protest on public property, such as the public sidewalk
along a city street near a strip mall. Petland is usually one store in a
mall, and the entire mall may be considered private property. So during
the protest, you will probably not be allowed to either park or walk in
the parking lot without risking being arrested for trespassing.
plan on having many protests, try to get the information that you are on
public property in writing. Have it with you at the protest in case the
police want to see it. You should not need a permit to protest unless you
are an extremely large group, but ask the police ahead of time, since this
may vary in different areas.
You may not be allowed to place objects,
such as a television playing a tape about puppy mills, on the sidewalk
without a permit.
You should be allowed to politely offer people fliers
whether they are on foot or in a car, provided you are not (1) interfering
with traffic or (2) blocking pedestrians' path on a sidewalk. Unless the
police are illegally restricting your rights, it’s a good idea to obey
their rules if you want to continue protesting there on a regular
Before your first protest,
contact (the easiest way is by e-mail) everyone you can think of who might
be interested in helping--animal welfare groups, animal rights groups,
animal rescue groups, petsitters, etc.
Also "table" at community
events, informing people about puppy mills and pet stores and what you are
doing, and have a sign-up sheet for people to be notified of upcoming
protests. If you are already a volunteer for other animal groups, they
will usually be happy to give you some space at their table.
our "Boycott Petland" t-shirts and sweatshirts around town and to work,
and when people ask us why, we hand them information. When you need only a
few shirts, the cheapest way is probably to make them yourselves using
iron-on letters and an iron-on picture of a dog.
When people come to
your protests, make sure you get their name and e-mail address and add
them to your e-mail distribution list. Treat your supporters with respect.
We e-mail only once or twice a month in an effort to avoid annoying people
with excessive e-mails. Give directions to the store, and start and end
your protests on time. Make sure everybody at the protest (e.g., those out
of sight at a different entrance to the parking lot) knows when you're
packing up to leave.
protest with a particular theme can attract more attention. We've had a
number of theme protests:
--Free the Prisoners of Greed (quoted from Hearts United for Animals):
We had dog, rabbit, and parrot masks and wore prison outfits, complete
with ball and chain (these can be rented from a costume store).
--Candlelight vigil, with candles and candle-like flashlights (in case
--Mourning protest--wore black, including mourning veils. Some signs
were in the shape of tombstones.
--Marathon--8-hour-long protest for the entire time Petland was open
--Adoption--the focus of our signs was on adopting from shelters and
--Around Easter time, our protest focused on
A day or two before your
first protest and any other protest that you think will be particularly
interesting (e.g., a candlelight vigil, a puppy mill survivor as a special
guest dog, a person wearing a dog costume), send a press release to local
newspapers and TV stations. (Check the Internet for how to write a press
release.) If anyone you know has contacts with the media, send messages to
the attention of that reporter. Bringing friendly dogs to your protest may
help attract media attention.
You can also place ads in the local papers, on the back of
a bus, or inside a metro train. (This can get expensive.) PETA learned of
our campaign and kindly placed this ad on 4 buses in Fairfax city for one
has several ads already made that you can use.
supporters to write letters to the editor about pet stores when
animal-related stories appear in the newspaper. You can also write brief
public service announcements and submit them to local radio
Learn as much as you can about
Petland in particular and puppy mills in general. Get a video of the April
2000 Dateline NBC undercover investigation, available from PETA at
1-757-622-PETA. Look for current news stories about Petland and research
the Hunte Corporation, Petland’s supplier, on the Internet. Talk to former
employees, people who have bought animals at the store, people who live
near the store, veterinarians, trainers, and anyone who approaches you
IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN THE STORE
we assumed that our local Petland knew state anti-cruelty laws and was
complying with them, but we were wrong. Check the laws in your state
dealing with the humane treatment of animals in pet stores. They are
usually available online and not as hard to decipher as you might think.
(See our Pet
Store Laws section.) Visit the store and make sure Petland is in
compliance with them. If they aren’t, immediately call your local Animal
Control so that they will visit and note the violations and hopefully
force Petland to fix them. Revisit the store frequently and report them
again if they failed to correct the violations.
MEET WITH THE MANAGER
Tell him you are
concerned about puppy mills, in-store conditions, and the homeless animal
crisis, and that you would stop protesting immediately if he would switch
from selling live animals to supplies only. His reply may not be what you
are looking for, but at least he will understand the reasons for your
opposition to his choice to join the Petland franchise.