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Animal Advocates to Protest Pet Express Opening in Braintree

Pet Express is opening at the South Shore Plaza Aug. 16, 2013.

South Shore Plaza file photo.
South Shore Plaza file photo.
A few dozen people are expected to protest outside the South Shore Plaza Friday when Pet Express has a "soft" opening one day ahead of its grand opening.

The protestors claim that the pet store, the newest location of a family-owned New England chain, will get its puppies from commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills, and that the animals will likely be unhealthy and not well cared for.

Nearly 1,000 people had "liked" the "Boycott Pet Express in Braintree" Facebook page by Thursday morning. Kelly DelSignore, on Braintree Patch, posted the following earlier this week:

"Pet Express buys their puppies from puppy mills where dogs live in horrific conditions with lack of food, water or veterinary care in order to decrease costs and increase profits of sales. 

"We have a peaceful protest planned for Friday, Aug 16, the day the store is scheduled to open to let them know that we do not welcome this store into our community."

Chief of Staff and Operations Peter Morin said that the advocates have reached out to the mayor's office, and that the police department will have a detail on site Friday in addition to the two officers normally posted at the Plaza.

Protestors have called the mayor's office to say that they will not shop in Braintree because Mayor Joseph Sullivan allowed Pet Express to open here, Morin said. But the town does not regulate the shop, he said, as it has only approved a general, commercial space plan for the Plaza that under zoning law allows such pet stores. 

Marybeth McGrath, director of Braintree's Department of Municipal Licenses & Inspections Health Division, also said the town has little to do with this type of business aside from collecting any complaints from residents and forwarding them to the state.  

The Division of Animal Health licenses all pet shops in the state.

Pet Express co-owner Robert Mellace, in an interview last week, strongly disputed the notion that his company sells mistreated or unhealthy animals.

He said that while he acknowledges some retailers have given the industry a bad reputation, he and his siblings have placed tens of thousands of puppies with customers over the years and "animal welfare is obviously in our best interests."

“We’re on the same page as activists," Mellace said. "We want to ban people who are abusing animals. My heart bleeds as well as anyone else’s.”

Mellace declined to provide the names of any breeders the companies uses because of business competition. Pet Express does, however, divulge the breeder information and a complete health history at the time of sale.

Braintree resident DelSignore, in an email to the Town Council earlier this week, urged the town to reconsider having the store in Braintree.

"When people inquire about where they get their puppies from, Pet Express responds with generic answers such as our breeders are 'USDA licensed' and 'AKC inspected,' however, puppy mills are USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) licensed and AKC (American Kennel Club) inspected," she wrote.

"Only large scale commercial facilities that breed animals for resale (pet stores for example) are required to be licensed and inspected by the USDA because they are considered "wholesale" operations. Inspections obtained from the Humane Society of the United States shows that many USDA licensed breeders get away with repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act and these violators are rarely fined and are allowed to renew their license."
Tamara L. Keegan August 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Robert Mellace, you are flat out misleading the public with where you are getting these dogs from! Flat.Out.Lying. I go to your Lynn store, proudly displayed there beside the puppys in enclosures is a notice stating you get your dogs via breeders through the Hunte Corporation. The Hunte corporation is a notorious middleman who gets ALL of their puppies from horrific mills in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York. So please, sell your lies to uninformed consumers. But don't get angry when we rally and inform the public of the cruelty that is puppy sales. Also, you bleed for animal rights? Please, give me a break. If you bled for animal welfare, you would not be making a profit of the sales of puppies who are born into misery and bred from uncared for, unsocialized, non-vet treated parents! If you bled for animal welfare? You wouldn't be willingly contributing towards the sale of puppies at all. You'd be working with rescue groups to all of the unwanted/neglected/abused animals currently causing shelters and volunteer rescue groups to be inundated!
Donna August 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Well Said Tamara !!

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