Protesters Call for Closure of Mohegan Lake Pet Store

f78918352b48a7cfc248_7d069b7950c6bf084bf5_37299.JPG
About 75 people stood in peaceful protest outside of American Breeders Jan. 30. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
e3d04a303d42bc674a32_37300.JPG
Protestors line the Route 6 sidewalk. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
f78918352b48a7cfc248_7d069b7950c6bf084bf5_37299.JPG

MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. - A crowd of about 75 people gathered on the sidewalk outside of a Mohegan Lake pet store on Sunday afternoon in peaceful protest to advocate the closing of the store due to the alleged neglect and mistreatment of the pets inside.

Armed with signs, cold weather accessories and rescue pets, the crowd camped out at American Breeeders from noon until 3 p.m. gathering community attention and support in the way of honks from passing cars.

Among the crowd were people who had caught wind of the alleged misconduct via the protestors’ Facebook page, as well as dissatisfied customers who had purchased puppies from the store and friends of previous employees who had witnessed the conditions of the shop.

Sign Up for E-News

“We have to protect the dogs because they can’t help themselves,” said Stacy Rongo, one of the protest’s organizers. Rongo hopes the shop will close its doors.

Other attendees did not want the shop to be shut down, some were simply advocating for policy change.

Protester George Ondek said there should be stricter regulations for the agencies that ensure proper treatment of the animals.

“I don’t say he should be closed down,” Ondek said. “But there should be stricter conditions checked by government agencies—perhaps video surveillance or spot checks. A dog shouldn’t be being sold with his eye half-out like I saw in the local paper.”

The dog in reference is five-month-old Reya, a Neapolitan mastiff puppy who was suffering from an eyelid protrusion (“cherry eye”) under the care of American Breeders. A photo of the dog following her allegedly “botched” eye surgery is what sparked this protest. American Breeders owner Richard Doyle denied allegations and provided prior dates of treatment for the condition.  The dog has since been purchased and had corrective eye surgeries under the care of Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation (SNARR.)

Two protestors in attendance said they had purchased sick puppies from the store previously and came out to protest the alleged mistreatment they believe is responsible for the conditions of their dogs. Both said Doyle, in an exclusive interview with Yorktown News last month, offered some compensation.

Maggie Massimine and Liz Peterson are independent animal activists as well as members of Rational Animal, a non-profit organization that creates media and special events to help at-risk animals and came to the protest to speak out against puppy mills in general, viewing American Breeders and other such storefronts as extensions of abusive puppy mills.

“We’re here because we don’t believe any store should be selling puppy mill dogs,” Peterson said. “The model is changing and he could choose to sell shelter animals. He could choose to support local shelters and be a facility and a storefront to support adoption versus selling puppy mill dogs.”

Pat Dishinger and daughter Courtney Dishinger added their voices and signs to the protest. They would be happy to see the store close, as Courtney Dishinger has seen and photographed conditions in the store that made her “sick to her stomach.”

“Two of my friends have worked there, they’ve told me horrible things and I’ve seen the horrible things that go on,” Courtney Dishinger said. “There were dogs that were throwing up and in cages they couldn’t move in. They were horribly ill.”

There was one person in attendance who did not want to see the shop shut down and asked protestors to take a different type of action. The man, who preferred not to be named, said he is a friend of a store employee and drives them to work often. He said he knows employees who put in extra hours at the store specifically because they worry about the puppies being fed and cleaned on holidays and snow days. He said the employees he knows work hard to meet the standards required to keep the shop open.

“If you want to work for the guy or make the store better, how about you go in and ask for a job and say I can clean this place better,” he said to protestors. “I’m not out here to defend him because he pays people I know, and he’s not paying me to do this and I’m not here to be an idiot about it—I’m just saying there’s more to the equation.”

He said protestors’ actions ultimately were reduced to complaints and that he encourages them to take “real” action.

“Go inside, go raise money or sell baked goods. Do something functional,” he said. “Everyone can point a finger.”

The man said he was not there to defend Doyle but asks that protestors look at the “larger equation.”

“There’s a ton of other people who are going to lose a lot of time and money if this place gets shut down,” he said. “They work there because they care for dogs and do the best to their ability. The level that they put into the store is far supremely above the minimum wage they earn.  There’s a lot of people in there who are not Rick. They’re trying to help puppies and make a simple salary.”

Another protest is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. in the same location.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Yorktown

Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

Live and Learn

When I was a senior at Fordham University (1970), the school initiated an experimental program allowing a small number of seniors to teach a professor-assisted accredited pass/fail course. I applied and to my amazement was one of three students selected. The course I taught was titled Philosophy of Education.

The underlying theory of my course was that every educational system has an ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Should Valentine's Day Be Celebrated at School?

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’ve been a third-grade teacher for over 20 years and have never allowed my students to celebrate Valentine’s Day in my class. I know my colleagues think I’m mean, but I’m refusing to celebrate it for many reasons.

1) Children hand out cards to each other and there’s always some child left out or who gets very few; 2) Children are always asked ...

What Next for Sober Houses?

February 7, 2018

To the editor,

As Yogi Berra famously said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

As reported in the Jan. 25 edition of Yorktown News, 482 Underhill Ave. is back in the sober house business, this time operating as a “family,” not a convalescent, home. And because it’s operating as a family home, there are no town regulations, standards, guidelines ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22, 7:00 PM

NY Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor

Book Club for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 12:00 PM

Club Fit, Jefferson Valley

Yoga for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown Receives GreenFaith Certification

February 16, 2018

The First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown has completed the requirements for GreenFaith certification (www.greenfaith.org). GreenFaith is an organization which helps religious communities grow in environmental leadership. GreenFaith certification was a two year process that required a number of accomplishments in the areas of stewardship, education, worship, environmental justice advocacy, and ...