Calls against ‘puppy mills’ voiced again in Escondido

ESCONDIDO — A group of concerned North County residents reopened the debate to ban retail pet stores specializing in puppy sales.

Andrea Cunningham, a 40-year resident of Escondido and breeder, followed a three-minute video presentation depicting how animals in puppy mills are housed and treated, and said a retail store in the Westfield North County mall has reopened under a different name, but still uses dogs from puppy mills.

She said Escondido Pets, formerly California Pets, receives its animals from a warehouse at 555 Country Club Drive by way of a distributor in the Midwest. The pet store and warehouse, she said, are owned by David Salinas.

Cunningham, along with Encinitas resident Laurie Michaels, both railed against Salinas’ practices of shipping in puppies from the Midwest, storing them in his warehouse until they can be brought to the store for sale.

“They give out fake service dog credentials,” she said. “Escondido Pets provides a retail outlet for puppy mills.”

According to previous media reports last August, Salinas owned several stores in Southern California. One of his stores, Oceanside Puppy, was targeted by the City Council there when it passed an ordinance outlawing the sale of puppy mill dogs.

According to a San Diego Reader article last year, Salinas purchases from Hunte Corporation, which ships the dogs by truck.

Cunningham and Michaels, meanwhile, said the practice incorporates cruel treatments such as housing the dogs in cages where the animals have their size, plus six inches of space. In addition, breeding techniques are terrible, the group said, stating many dogs are inbred, females pump out litter after litter and sell underage puppies.

Numerous cities in San Diego County have instituted bans such as Encinitas, San Marcos, Vista, Oceanside, San Diego and Chula Vista.

Another concerned activist said Escondido has become a dumping ground for the animals, which also suffer from various medical conditions they say are not disclosed.

Salinas said in previous report he gives 10-year guarantees on his puppies. He also said he has been to the Hunte Corporation facility several times, which is “top notch.”

In addition, he said he wouldn’t work with breeders who are not in compliance with state and federal laws.

The North County group, meanwhile, urged the City Council to draw up an ordinance similar to those in other cities to stop the practice.

Mayor Sam Abed, who owns a dog, asked the group if any of the footage in the video was shot in Escondido. The group didn’t know.

Regardless, he said, “I don’t think anybody would tolerate the abuse of animals.”

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