July 30, 2013

Owner defends, plans to sell Scarborough quarantined pet store

She says she feels pressure from those who oppose commercial-scale breeding.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — The owner of a pet store in Scarborough that is under quarantine for the second time this year defended her business Tuesday but said she is trying to sell it and get out of selling puppies, in part because of pressure from protesters who oppose commercial-scale breeding.

click image to enlarge

The owner of Little Paws pet store in Scarborough says protesters have influenced her decision to sell the store.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Sophie, a 9-week-old Ori-pei, is being treated for parvovirus, a highly contagious disease that is often fatal for dogs. Little Paws, the Scarborough store that sold her to Tina Bark of Westbrook, has been placed under quarantine while state officials investigate.

Courtesy of Tina Bark

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Barbara Cross, who owns Little Paws on Payne Road, said she began getting phone calls and emails from protesters within an hour after she learned that a puppy sold at her store last week had tested positive for parvovirus, a highly contagious and often fatal disease for dogs.

Groups that oppose what they call puppy mills have protested at the store in the past and are planning another rally for this weekend in response to the parvovirus case.

"The protesters can make your life miserable," Cross said. "It doesn't seem worth it."

The state imposed a two-week quarantine on Little Paws on Monday, after a 9-week-old ori-pei named Sophie tested positive and was hospitalized for parvovirus within a week of being sold.

Little Paws also was quarantined in February because of a case of parvovirus.

The store can remain open during the quarantine, but the 29 puppies it has now cannot be sold. Cross said none of those puppies is showing symptoms of parvovirus.

She said the disease is not isolated to pet stores.

Animal shelters in the area have seen occasional cases, primarily in dogs that come from Southern states, where the disease is more prevalent.

Dr. Christine Fraser, veterinarian for the state's animal welfare program, said parvovirus is "certainly not common" in Maine, and is seen most often in young puppies that have not been fully vaccinated against the disease. The state does not track the number of cases or related quarantines, Fraser said.

"Generally in the Northeast, we're pretty educated about animal care," Fraser said. "We do a good job with vaccinations, so we don't tend to see it as much in our native populations of dogs."

Cross, who said she will reopen her store Wednesday after being closed for two days to sanitize and reseal floors, said she buys dogs from only reputable breeders who treat the puppies well. But members of Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills said they consider such USDA-licensed commercial breeders to be puppy mills.

"We believe cruelty and suffering is inherent in that industry," said Carol Reynolds, a member of Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills. She said adult dogs often live and are bred in wire-bottom cages, for example.

Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills asked Scarborough officials last year to adopt an ordinance to ban sales of cats and dogs in pet stores. The town's ordinance committee decided not to pursue a ban.

Cross said she could not immediately provide a list of all breeders she uses, but said her favorite is Linda Purifoy, a breeder in New Boston, Texas.

Federal inspection records show that Purifoy's kennel is licensed and has had several problems in the past three years, including incomplete records for 10 dogs and dirt and algae in water bowls. The issues raised in past inspections were fixed and have not reoccurred, according to inspection records.

Tina Bark of Westbrook, who bought Sophie from Little Paws, said a pet shop employee told her the dog came from Lonewolf Kennels in Iberia, Mo.

Federal inspection records show that breeder has been asked to fix one problem since 2011. In December 2012, an inspector told the kennel owner to fix eight outdoor dog enclosures that lacked adequate protection from wind and rain.

(Continued on page 2)

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