The Perfect Puppy once again in spotlight

The Perfect Puppy once again in spotlight

The Perfect Puppy has two locations, one in Scituate, pictured above, and one in Warwick. Reservoir Dog LLC is applying for a kennel license to begin breeding at the 1265 Chopmist Hill Road location in Scituate. (Breeze photo by Jackie Roman)

SCITUATE – In a unanimous vote, the Scituate Zoning Board has granted Reservoir Dogs LLC, connected to The Perfect Puppy chain, a special use permit for a kennel license at the company’s 1265 Chopmist Hill Road location.

The special use permit brings Reservoir Dogs one step closer to operating its own breeding business in the basement of The Perfect Puppy store.

It is unclear whether this request will be shot down at the council level, as it was in March of 2015.

Nearly three years ago, then Council President Charles Collins Jr. and council members John Winfield Jr., Kathleen Knight-Bianchi, Brenda Frederickson and David Campbell voted against the application.

One key reason council members mentioned for the denial was owner Scott Bergantino’s plan to keep dogs in the basement of the Chopmist Hill Road site.

Winfield, a firefighter for some time, said “the worst thing” you face is “to go down cellar” to fight a fire, only to find dogs that must be saved add to the danger. “For safety reasons, I would reject it,” Winfield said.

The most recent Zoning Board approval on Aug. 22 was granted despite the revocation of Reservoir Dogs’ certificate of organization/registration to transact business in the state, according to a letter signed by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea on June 27.

Reservoir Dogs was sent a warning in April that if it did not file its annual report for 2016 within 60 days, the state could not ensure the company’s authority to conduct business in the state. Since the report was not filed, the company’s certificate was revoked.

In an email provided to The Valley Breeze & Observer, Zoning Clerk Calista McDermott said, “A good standing certificate with the Secretary of State is not required to apply to the Zoning Board.”

This does not impact The Perfect Puppy’s pet shop license, State Veterinarian Scott Marshall said.

“Currently, The Perfect Puppy is in complete compliance with regulations,” Marshall said.

Marshall added that if The Perfect Puppy is not in compliance with the Secretary of State’s office at the time of its pet shop license renewal, then it could run into problem with the Department of Environmental Management.

The Perfect Puppy has already run into problems with animal activists, who have used social media to spread their personal experiences with the company.

Holly Dupont loves everything about her 3-year-old dog Harvey – his smooth white coat, his floppy ears, and brown spotted eye. She had purchased dogs from retail animal stores before.

“From this point forward, I’ll never do it again,” Dupont told the Breeze.

Dupont said she wasn’t sure her dog would make it this far when she got him from The Perfect Puppy years ago.

Dupont says that shortly after purchasing Harvey, he fell dangerously ill and had to be placed on a 24-hour watch with oxygen.

Her complaint is one of several found on the business’s Yelp page, Better Business Bureau profile, and a Change.org petition chronicling customer complaints.

Individuals have also filed complaints with the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals over the years.

Since 2014, The Perfect Puppy has been the subject of four complaints.

Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigator Joe Warzycha said the “general nature of complaints was regarding unsanitary living conditions and/or sick dogs” but he said all complaints were unfounded.

Warzycha added that between March 7, 2014, and Aug. 4, 2014, RISPCA received reports of 13 dogs with documented illnesses purchased from The Perfect Puppy during that time period. Of those 13 dogs, two died from their illnesses.

However, Warzycha said these complaints do not fall under any animal cruelty statute, giving RISPCA no jurisdiction. Instead, RISPCA reported all cases to the state veterinarian and directed complainants to Rhode Island General Law 4-25-5, which lists conditions under which a purchaser is entitled to relief from the seller.

Brienna Oulette, who runs the Boycott The Perfect Puppy Facebook page, has led an effort to publicize customer reviews and complaints. Over the years, she has sought to raise awareness about the dangers of “puppy mills,” and spoken against The Perfect Puppy specifically.

Oulette said she fears that providing Reservoir Dogs with a kennel license will facilitate questionable breeding practices.

Though never a customer herself, she has connected upset dog owners through her various social media platforms.

She has paid the price; The Perfect Puppy filed suit against Oulette in June 2016, alleging libel and slander. The case is ongoing.

A reporter from The Valley Breeze & Observer visited The Perfect Puppy last Friday, Sept. 8., where owner Bergantino informed the reporter that an associate would reach out to respond to a request for comment. As of press time, the company had not provided comment.

Comments

I think it is disgusting that we are considering allowing yet another "pet store" to breed. There are thousands of animals waiting in shelters through no fault of their own.Some are results of divorce, impulse or death of an owner. They all deserve a chance. Every puppy bought is another that dies alone in a shelter. We need to get the animal population under control. Thousands are put to death every year because people continue to breed out of greed. As a foster to more than 300 dogs in my lifetime, I can tell you that shelter dogs deserve a second chance. I have had the experience of rescuing dogs from puppy mills and it is heart wrenching. The conditions are beyond what you see on a ASPCA commercial. Please do not buy from a pet store. No reputable breeder would ever sell their animals this way. RESCUE...PLEASE.

The idea that our small town condones this breaks my heart. So many more innocent animals will die because someone want to make more money. I live just down the road from this house of horrors and the vision of breeding dogs forced to live out their lives in cages in a basement birthing litter after litter for profit haunts me. I truly thought that our country was heading slightly in the right direction in trying to shut down puppy mills, but here we are, the small town of Scituate, RI, allowing it to happen. It's an archaic and disgusting business.

Given that the company has complaints, the abundance of public condemnation of Puppy Mills, the tortuous and ill treatment of animals, and the risk of safety of animals and rescue officers, WHY is the Zoning Board doing this? The pattern of this board seems to continually lean toward decisions that conflict with common sentiment of its town residents and safety.