A pet store in New Jersey has reopened as an adoption center working alongside the very activists who originally protested the store. PHL17’s Lauren Berman reports.
The scene at PT’s Puppy Love Adoption Center's grand reopening this past Saturday was one of new hope for shelter dogs and a powerful demonstration of how two opposing groups can work together to save animals.
When co-owners Pat Youmans and Theresa Serrano first opened in June in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, they operated as a pet store selling puppies from breeders. Now, they are an adoption center, rescuing puppies who would have otherwise been euthanized from shelters across the country.
It all started back in June when Youmans's pet store gained the attention of local animal activists. Spearheaded by local animal activist Alan Braslow, the group protested outside the shop 8-10 times a week, concerned the puppies could potentially be coming from breeders with substandard conditions. After weeks of tension, Youmans decided to change.
“Pat actually walked outside and walks up to me, we were protesting," said Braslow. "And he said yeah, I'd really like to talk to you, I can’t do this anymore.”
The co-owners paid the month's rent and quickly shutdown. Three weeks later, they were back in operation, but this time as an adoption center, working alongside Braslow and the other activists. Braslow frequents the store multiple times a week, joking he sees Youmans more than his own sons. Volunteers help care for the dogs, call the veterinarians, and will even conduct home checks for families looking to adopt when necessary.
"This has been a very positive situation." said Braslow. "We’ve been very fortunate in that when Pat decided he wanted to make the change, he was in 100-percent."
“I think it’s great that we’ve been able to do all of this." said Serrano. "Alan, has been a great help with helping us get everything started and the ball rolling and he still really helps us to this day so it’s really great."
As of Saturday, all pups in the store were rescued from shelters in Tennessee and Puerto Rico.
"Fortunately we have a lot of those contacts," said Braslow. "We've met them over the years, and we were able to connect them with Pat, and be the validation that he's really doing this, because they don't know him. There are hundreds of thousands of dogs down south who are put into kill shelters. Every puppy that's here would be dead if it wasn't here."
Youmans and Serrano are currently working on obtaining their 501c3 to become a non-profit, and plan to build larger pens so they can help rescue more adult dogs.
"We only have certain pens that are big enough for adult dogs," said Serrano. "To bring a German Sheppard in, it's just not fair to have them in these smaller pens. So right now we don't have the space for a lot of adult dogs, but we do plan on bringing them in the future."
In the past few months there has been a larger statewide crack down on inhumane animal breeding.
In September, the Camden County Freeholder Board unanimously passed new legislation prohibiting pet stores from selling animals purchased from inhumane breeding operations, frequently referred to as puppy mills. Titled “Norman’s Law” the ordinance was inspired by Freeholder Jeffery Nash’s rescue pup, Norman (pictured below). Camden County is reportedly one of only four counties in the nation to pass such legislation.
In accordance with the new law, the Camden County's Health Department Division of Environmental Health will conduct regular inspections on pet stores in the county, including a check of the breeders providing the dogs. Stores will be required to share the dog's origin with the public as well.
Since then, multiple townships within the county have created sister legislation to the county ordinance, including Cherry Hill. On November 9, the township passed "Bogart's Law", furthering the legislation. Council Vice President Sara Lipsett, who voiced her support for Bogart's Law was present at PT’s Puppy Love Adoption Center’s reopening.
BY: Lauren Berman/PHL17
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