Protesting for Beginners
2007: Check out
this Youtube video of a great protest. It's by a California
group at a store called Posh Puppy in Beverly Hills:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyZdkCi-JzQ
this article about the protest:http://www.network.bestfriends.org/truth/news/21651.html
We can't all get celebrities at our protests, but
every time you protest outside a pet store, even with just a
few people, you are raising public
is 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.
Our protests are sometimes 1
1/2 hours long, sometimes 2. 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
If you have never been to a protest,
here are some tips on getting started.
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
PICTURES are very important. If
possible, include some drawings or pictures of animals as big
as possible. We recently added 3 new large (about 30x40) signs
that we think are effective:
1) "What's a puppy mill?" Then several photos of puppy
mills, available from many sites on the Web, enlarged to 8
1/2x11 on a home photo printer, or as large as you can get
them without being blurry.
2) "Killed in shelters" with several 8 1/2x11 photos of
real dogs of all different breeds who were killed in shelters
because they were not adopted. Some were killed in gas
chambers, so we use "gassed" under those photos.
3) "Parents of pet store pups" with several 8 1/2x11
photos of sickly, abused dogs who were rescued from puppy
also sometimes use one big picture of an animal with a brief
message. You may be able to create this on your computer if
you have a photo of good quality. (If you have an HP printer
and HP Image Zone, get ready to print your picture, then go to
Properties/finishing/2x2, which will enlarge a photo to 4
times the size of a sheet of paper.)
Obviously, everything on your signs must be
100% true. In the signs above, the photos of the puppy and
kitten were from a website that showed that these particular
animals (and hundreds more) were killed their local shelter.
The third is from USDA records of a breeder whose puppies were
being sold at Petland. For signs like these, we put an
explanation on the back so that the person holding the sign
can give more details when asked by passers-by as well as
referring them to our website.
When using the the
smaller foam board, we 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
--foam core 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)
--sets of stencils,
several different sizes
--magic markers of various sizes
and colors, including the jumbo ones
--acrylic paints in the same colors as the
From a home supply store, you can pick
--lightweight wooden stakes, about 46 inches
--clear mailing tape
Here are some examples of messages on our double
- Petland's private breeders = puppy mills/Adopt
from the shelter (picture of dog)
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
- Save a Life/Don't breed or buy - Adopt! (pictures
of parrot, iguana, rabbit)
- 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)
Petland/Adopt from rescue groups (picture of rabbit)
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
- 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
For 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.
You can also create
very large letters on your computer--e.g. one letter per page.
You'll need to line them up on your foam board.
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
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.
can also use plastic banners. They're kind of expensive when
made at a sign shop, but you could try making some homemade
banners. It's MUCH easier to hold on to banners if you get two
stakes about 5 feet high and attach the banner to them at each
end. Then you can rest the stake on the ground as you hold the
sign. (This picture was taken before we did that.)
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 area.
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 calls,
We hand out either a card with our website on it or
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 are Spanish-speaking.
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
If you protest, some
pet store owners will ignore you. Others will attempt to
intimidate you. That's why it's very important that you check
out this fantastic website, http://www.puppylawsuit.com/. The owner
of a store called Happiness is Pets sued protesters in 2006.
Instead of going away, the protesters COUNTERSUED. One
excellent thing about countersuing, it seems, is that through
"disclosure," the store owner can be required to turn over
RECORDS from the previous 3 years. That would provide a lot of
interesting information, including BREEDER RECORDS, by which
you can obtain still further proof that the store gets puppies
from puppy mills. In this case the store owner reconsidered
and DROPPED THE SUIT WITHOUT ANY CONDITIONS.
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.
If you 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
We recently learned that in Virginia and
some other states, it's illegal for adults to wear MASKS that
cover their faces in public except for certain purposes. Check
your state laws to see if there is such a law.
though you are doing absolutely nothing illegal, it is
unfortunate that FBI agents can harass even those who are
peacefully protesting. NEVER talk to an FBI agent--even if you
are completely innocent, they are great at getting false
confessions; and don't let a law enforcement in your home
without a search warrant. If they really give an activist a
hard time, eg. subpeona somebody to a grand jury, then CALL AN
ATTORNEY. The National Lawyer's Guild has good information
about knowing your rights:
No Compromise also has some good information:
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,
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.
We wear 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 with a specific message, you may want to
make them yourselves using iron-on letters and an iron-on
picture of a dog. Or check out sites like http://www.jbslegacy.com/ for t-shirts,
bumper stickers, and other supplies. The owners of the site
have rescued puppy mill dogs and donate 10% of their profits
to animal rescue groups.
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.
A 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 of rain)
--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 that day.
--Adoption--the focus of our signs was on adopting from
shelters and rescue groups.
--Around Easter time, our
protest focused on rabbits.
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
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 month.
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 stations.
Don't forget to get some "Boycott Petland" or similar
bumper stickers for your car. (See our "Shop" page.) If you don't want them on there
at all times, attach them to magnets that you can remove
whenever you like. If bumper stickers aren't shouting the
message loud enough for you, you can get larger magnets made
at a print shop:
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 or by e-mailing Christy
Griffin at ChristyG@peta.org.
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 with
IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN THE STORE
first 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
If you have any other questions, feel free
to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.