Perfect Puppy store owner: council permission 'not needed' for second location in town

Perfect Puppy store owner: council permission 'not needed' for second location in town

SCITUATE - The owner of the Perfect Puppy store, the focus of complaints from animal activists opposed to puppy mills, says he does not need permission from the town to open a third store on Chopmist Hill Road.

Scott Bergantino, owner and operator of two Perfect Puppy stores - at Village Plaza in Scituate, and on Wampanoag Trail in East Providence - is currently preparing a site at 1265 Chopmist Hill Road as a "second location" in town, he told The Valley Breeze & Observer in an interview last week.

Bergantino said he has the proper commercial zoning for the new site, which reportedly has housed a television store and a motorcycle shop in the past, and he has applied for a kennel license from the state.

He had sought a kennel license from the Town Council, but withdrew his petition earlier this month when he learned he did not need it, he said.

A check with Town Hall revealed that the Chopmist Hill Road site is zoned RR, Rural Residential, which allows for the sale of animals, according to David Provonsil, town engineer/building official.

Bergantino said he had planned to also run a dog boarding business at the same location, but has dropped that idea.

"We are opening another location," he said. "We need a state license, that's already set ... we've done everything we need to do."

About the only thing Bergantino has not been able to do lately is quiet local critics who complain about his puppy stores because they maintain that pups from notorious puppy mills are sold there. Such puppies often are bred in deplorable conditions that can render them sickly and averse to human contact.

Bergantino and his son, Carlos Munoz, who helps operate the puppy stores, have admitted that they did receive a small percentage of their puppies from the Hunte Corporation, Goodwin, Mo., considered a puppy mill by some activists. But Bergantino said last week he has not gotten any Hunte puppies "in a while."

Bergantino said he informs his customers when they buy a puppy from Hunte about the dog's origin and, he said of Hunte, "at least they have people checking them," referring to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) as well as other state and federal entities.

No opening date has been set yet for his third store, Bergantino said, and he would not discuss how many dogs he intends to keep at the new site.

What he was ready to discuss is how sick and tired he is of the activists who complain about his livelihood. "There are a lot more important things to comment on, the way this world is going, than me and my puppies," he said. "I try not to consume myself with them," Bergantino continued, but he clearly is exasperated by the criticism and "people attacking my business."

In Scituate, when it was expected that Bergantino would be appearing before the Town Council, meetings were switched from the Town Hall to the Community House and then to the high school because a lot of town residents were expected to turn out. But the meetings were never held because Bergantino withdrew his applications each time.

With no formal name, the Sciutate group against the commercial sale of cats and dogs in town held a rally at the gazebo in North Scituate at the end of July, attended by about 40 people on a Sunday evening. The point of the rally was to generate support for a ban on commercial pet sales.

Such a ban was enacted by the East Providence City Council earlier this year, but Bergantino has appealed it in federal court where the matter is pending. Other cities and towns in the United States have enacted similar bans, aimed at businesses that sell puppy mill dogs. At least 28 municipalities, in California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and New Mexico, have banned commercial puppy sales.

Animal activists maintain that pet stores should obtain their puppies from local breeders, but Bergantino told The Valley Breeze & Observer that problems still can develop from dogs of local origin.

The four-page application for a kennel license in Rhode Island asks for information on employees who will be working at the kennel, the types of animals to be boarded there ("canines, felines, other"), common rooms, socialization areas, isolation rooms or cages, attending veterinarian and a detailed floor plan.

A $50 fee is required. Applications go to the state veterinarian at the state Department of Environmental Management, Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing.