Setting the record straight on Barkworks, puppy mills and the work of CAPS

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Last week I told you that back in October, Macerich has banned the sale of live animals at 70 of its malls nationwide in response to protests from animal rescue groups. My post was based on a story at and some press materials from Best Friends Animal Society in regards to a lawsuit they filed.

I heard back immediately from Deborah Howard, President of Companion Animal Protection Society, who wanted to share some information to help clarify and expand the story.

Actually, she sent me a lot of information. To call it an avalanche might be more appropriate. But the gist of her concern is that for all of the attention this story about Macerich has gotten, the years of hard work CAPS has put in regarding the protests of Barkworks and the subsequent changes to Macerich policy haven’t been mentioned.

Normally, I’m not a fan of the “Hey, I didn’t get credit for that!” mentality. Animal rescue is an effort that has a lot of moving parts, and there will always, always, always be people and organizations who remain nameless and faceless when stories break in the media.

But I also think Howard and her team deserve to be heard. And I don’t mean in any way to discount any of the work of the organizations who have been named in media reports. But I wasn’t familiar with the work of CAPs, and once I saw the extent of their behind the scenes efforts, I had to make sure you knew about them as well.

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For example, Howard explained that she investigated the case law about protesting at the Westside Pavillion mall, and found that they didn’t need permission. “We gave our legal research to the LAPD, which it turn gave it to the City Attorney, who agreed with us. That is why they LAPD provided protection every single time we protested,” Howard told me by email. Carole Davis, CAPS West Coast Director, also told me by email that CAPS was responsible for the indepth investigations of the store and the puppy mills in the Midwest, which provided proof of the claims that stores used puppy mills for their puppies. (The video above of the Kathy Bauck investigation is one example.)

CAPS work has also been crucial to pet sale bans in West Hollywood, Glendale, Irvine, and Los Angeles, CA; have held protests at  I Heart Puppies, a new store in Corona del Mar, every Saturday since they opened, as well as at Happiness is Pets, the largest chain in the Chicago area, and Pups & Pets in the San Diego area.

We’re not just talking protests; we’re talking undercover investigations of puppy mills, legal filings and research, and a whole lot more. In fact, you can see a list of the investigations on their website, complete with paperwork and photos or video where available. It’s staggering when you think about the amount of time, effort and money that goes into those kinds of investigations.

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As Howard wrote to me, “The work of CAPS is changing the way everyone in this country, from consumers to prosecutors to government agencies to the media, views the cruel and inhumane pet shop/puppy mill industry.  CAPS is at the forefront of effecting change through attacking every facet of this cruel industry, from puppy mills to booking agents to brokers to veterinarians to pet shops and Internet sellers and websites.”

You can learn more about CAPS on their website.


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  • Lawrence Ziese

    Im sorry, but to not mention the hard work of Jennifer Peterson, who started the whole effort and led the rallies, is journalistically wrong.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Lawrence, had you clicked the link provided that referenced the first post, you would have seen the entire story about her.

    • carole

      I’m sorry Lawrence, please google Companion Animal Protection Society and Barkworks. You’ll see who led all the rallies. I organized them myself. It was a lot of work! I didn’t see you there.
      Carole Davis

  • Deborah Howard

    On December 9, 2009, the busiest shopping day of the year, CAPS held a
    landmark peaceful protest with 72 participants inside Westside Pavilion Mall
    in Los Angeles against one of seven Barkworks stores. This pet shop chain
    obtains puppies from mills, including some with serious USDA violations.
    The protest was a landmark demonstration for the California animal
    protection movement because pet shops that sell puppy mill dogs inside
    shopping malls, had been immune to the increasing public outcry over the
    puppy mill issue. After researching California Supreme Court cases, we
    realized that the California Constitution, which is more expansive than the
    federal version, protected our rights to protest inside a mall – a de facto.

    There is a lot more to the Macerich going humane story that isn’t being revealed at this point.
    public forum under California case law. Moreover, California case law
    protects the rights of protesters to call for a boycott of a specific
    business within a shopping center or mall.

    CAPS’ documentary about Barkworks and a customer who purchased a very sick
    puppy that died on December 24, 2009, one week after purchase, was one of
    the most shared videos on CNN iReport. CAPS held a second protest on
    February 13, 2010 with 89 participants inside the mall in honor of
    Valentine’s Day, a loveless day at Barkworks. The third protest on April
    13, 2010 had more than 100 participants, including 70 inner city public high
    school students. The most recent protest at Westside Pavilion (we held a
    Valentine’s 2011 protest against the Barkworks location in Thousand Oaks)
    was on December 18, 2010 with 130 participants. In lieu of signs, CAPS
    protesters wore tee shirts and carried large shopping bags – all with
    slogans or messages. CAPS worked closely with the LAPD whose officers
    provided protection of our First Amendment Rights in light of the mall’s
    threats to have security guards arrest the protesters.

    Jennifer Peterson organized just one protest. It took place outside the mall on the day after Thanksgiving 2010. Ninety percent of the protesters were from CAPS (ask our volunteer coordinator Carole Sax who asked these people to turn out for Jennifer’s protest; Carole Davis was out of the country; if you look at the photos you can see that some of these protesters were wearing the red CAPS tee shirts that we usually wear at protests).

    We don’t just organize protests. We investigate the stores and the mills selling to the stores. For example, this video is an investigation of Barb Crick, a horrendous USDA-licensed broker in Nebraska who sold to both Barkworks and I Heart Puppies

    In addition, there is a lot more to the Macerich going humane story than is being revealed at this point.

    Deborah Howard
    President and Founder
    Companion Animal Protection Society

  • Deborah Howard
    Here is a video of one of the Companion Animal Protection Society’s Barkworks’ protests.

  • Jennifer

    Please, the false statements really need to end here. I was just sent this link on Facebook and it saddens me. Deborah, you and CAPS have done tremendous work against Puppy Mills, as has Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society and countless thousands across the country and beyond. I have attended your protests and even helped with the Thousand Oaks one. I have admiration for any organization (or person) who is spreading the word about horrible puppy mills. And yours takes it one step further by investigating. That’s incredible. But that does not give you the right to spread untruths about me so let’s set the record straight once and for all. I have organized three very successful Los Angeles protests against Barkworks and Puppy Mills, not ‘one’ as you claim, two of which made national news. As far as 90% being CAPS protesters? That’s quite an exaggeration and I have pictures to back that up, but regardless, does it really matter? If it were true wouldn’t that be a great thing? My protests include Best Friends Volunteers, Band of Mercy, my own friends and relatives (who trust me, have no idea who CAPS is) , dozens of members of my Barkworks Facebook Page, etc etc… My question is, why are you so determined to slander me when my only focus is to help animals through my documentary work, protests and leasing company conversions? Wouldn’t it make more sense to work with me, encourage me, so we can save more animals lives? That’s all I want. Remember, I’m a filmmaker, not a professional animal activist at all.

    In regards to the Macerich decision you keep insinuating that all has not been revealed in regards to their going humane. Again, untrue and I know because I’m completely involved in helping them with the transition. I have a close relationship with Macerich which is why I was able to assist them with their landmark decision. I have had dialog with them for over a year. Macerich deserves to be applauded, they made a bold decision which has had a ripple effect across the country and throughout the world. Why can’t we just celebrate it and then demand other leasing companies follow suit? Believe me, that’s where my energy is now and yes, I need help!

    You also seem to forget I supplied CAPS with a plaintiff (the one you like to call out) to help your case against Barkworks, and was happy to do so. (I also supplied Best Friends Animal Society with the same name). Best Friends filed the lawsuit this year which is great news and I hope you’re able to file yours too! In conclusion, I really have no idea what your issue is with me but all I ask is that you stop with the smearing. It needs to end now. No one is taking anything away from your hard work and dedication to the anti-puppy mill movement. 2012 should be the year we put all these horrific puppy mills out of business and my prayer is that we can ALL work together on it instead of tearing each other down. I know, it’s a big prayer but one I believe in wholeheartedly. Thank you. Jennifer Peterson
    p.s. I also ask that from now on you contact me directly to get the facts straight. I am only a phone call away. Carole has my number.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Jennifer, thanks for taking time to share those details. Animal rescue is one big machine with many moving parts and many people working in many, many ways. Thanks for your animal rescue efforts!


  • Lawrence Ziese

    Forgive me, ladies, for my inaccuracies. As Carole pointed out, I’ve only been to a few of the protests. I know, I’m a male so I STICK OUT at those protests. I honestly jumped a bit too fast in coming to Jennifer’s defense without reading the attached article. At the three different protests I went to, Jennifer seemed to be running the show… not that anyone really runs a protest, in my opinion.

    I would love to see this whole “who did what, who deserves the credit” issue get tucked into bed. In the end it wasn’t one person, one organization, or one non-profit that did it. It was the combine force of MANY people, some who just showed up because they love animals (like me, BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE!).

    I feel at the end Joanne’s point was valid. It ridiculous to try and fight over who deserves the brass ring. Sierra Club started an anti coal campaign a few years ago, and Greenpeace joined them. Later Greenpeace won a victory over getting Facebook off coal, but we all knew Sierra Club planted the seed. No one fought over it. No one cared. Everyone was just thrilled a little less pollution was in the air.

    Why can’t the AR movement be a little more selfless?

    Just a thought.

    I love and respect all you beautiful women (and men) for all you do. You really inspire me.

    Lawrence Ziese

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Lawrence, once you really get involved in animal rescue you start to see what an enormous task these folks have undertaken. From protests to undercover investigations to the anonymous people who take in stray cats in an informal way, there isn’t any way to credit anyone, or for the average person to even understand the process. I know I’m in awe and I learn something new every day. I did the CAPS post because I just wanted to make sure that people understood that there was more to what happens in successes like Barkworks than just protests – it takes a whole community of rescue people to pull all of it off.

      Thanks for sharing and for showing up at protests! If you’re interested, I’m sure there are lots of groups who would love to have your help if you ever want to get more involved, lol!!


      • Lawrence Ziese

        Hi Joanne, I am either on the steering committee or run four different non-profits, including Fur Free Pasadena. If I had time to get any more involved in the Animal Rescue world I would have to give up sleep or marry a very rich spouse (maybe they can bail me out the next time I’m arrested defending civil rights)

        The infighting and goldbricking that I’ve seen at some AR events by certain individuals just to get camera time or recognition is not new to social movements, but it does seem to be a bit more prevalent in the AR movement. This is coming from an activist who’s been involved in anti-war, AIDS, gay rights, environmental justice, equality, economic, food.. you name it.

        I’ve been told by many big names in the movement (like large group founders, famous authors, ect) that AR activists are the loudest and most passionate. I guess that applies to a need for recognition (and funding competition) as well. But who knows, that’s just one guy’s opinion for only 20 years of being an activist.

        Great article and I’m glad it’s inspiring such spirited conversations. I’ll definitely have to read your blog more often, since I apparently have a lot to learn ;)


        • Joanne Brokaw

          Lawrence, feel free to share some of your stories with me, too! The blog covers not just animal rescue but anything related to animals and faith/life/spirituality, and I know very, very little about “fur free” activism … as I sit here wearing suede slippers with faux fur trim … gulp.


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