I Heart Puppies, which has been under fire from animal activists since it opened eight months ago, apparently closed over the weekend, according to a sign in the Corona del Mar pet store's window.
"I Heart Puppies would like to thank the community of CdM for their kindness, generosity, and support," states the sign at 2801 East Coast Highway. "Sadly, we are closing our store front."
The shop drew the wrath of activists for allegedly acquiring pooches to sell through puppy mills, and the rancor grew so heated that I Heart Puppies owner Brooke Ann Bradford went to court last July to get a restraining order against Carole Davis, the West Coast director for the Companion Animal Protection Society.
Just as Bradford and others associated with I Heart Puppies have claimed in the past, the sign in the window denies the puppy-mill allegations--only this time the vow to soldier on despite the criticism is confined solely to online sales.
"I Heart Puppies will continue to provide the same quality puppies for sale on our website, where we will be able to offer a larger variety of breeds," the sign states. "We take pride in offering puppies from our reputable breeders; we personally visit our breeders and their kennels and continue to monitor them to maintain the highest level off quality. We look forward to providing you with professional, quality one one one service in selecting your future puppy."
Davis reportedly told Corona del Mar Today in an email the I Heart Puppies closure was not the "victory we hoped for."
"We wanted IHP to thrive as a 'rescue only' store like so many other pet shops we have converted to the humane business model," Davis writes. "We investigated and exposed evidence of the horrific puppy mills they were buying from and then we staged the largest animal rights protests in NB history. No store selling factory-bred pets has ever been able to withstand our formula of investigations and protracted protests by local activists. . . . They could have made money AND saved lives of OC homeless pets desperately in need of homes."
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She now plans to seek a Newport Beach City Council ban on the sale of animals acquired through puppy mills, to mirror an ordinance adjoining Irvine enacted last year.