Advocacy organization protests pet purchases

Emily Hejlik

Iowa’s Black Friday wasn’t just for the shoppers. Last Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., educational demonstrations took place in front of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe. Protesters for the organization Bailing Out Benji were at the store talking to citizens of Ames about puppy mills and the dangers of buying dogs when people know nothing about the breeder.

The pet advocacy organization will be protesting outside of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe in Ames every Saturday through Christmas Eve.

Iowa has nearly 300 USDA-licensed, large-scale commercial dog-breeding facilities, the second largest number in the nation behind Missouri. Each year, approximately 100,000 puppies are born in Iowa breeding facilities, with many of these puppies being exported to pet retailers across the country.

Nearly 4 million shelter dogs and cats are euthanized annually. Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe has disclosed that the puppies they sell come from Century Farm Puppies, a large USDA-licensed breeding facility in Grundy Center, Iowa. The center carries as many as 578 dogs on the premises per recent USDA inspection reports.

“Our ultimate goal is to get Dale Dyvig to recognize that partnering with a breeder is detrimental to the well-being of the homeless animals in Ames,” said Mindi Callison, the founder of Bailing Out Benji. “We are asking that he start partnering with local animal rescues and shelters instead to offer adoption events.”

Callison continued to explain that although there are great breeders out there, none of them would sell through a pet store, online or in a newspaper. Reputable breeders care where the dogs are going and would do extensive research on the family.

“Pet stores are not allowed to ask where the pets are going. The breeders are just in it for the money,” Callison said. “These dogs are not ‘purebred’ and the only reason the price tag is so high on them is because the consumer doesn’t realize what they are paying for. It costs next to nothing for these breeders to breed the dogs.”

Dale Dyvig, owner of Dyvig’s Pet Shoppe, says the protesting doesn’t affect the workers because the store knows they buy from a good breeder.

“We are trying to get along the best we can,” Dyvig said. “I’m not sure what they want, but I get to be the victim.”

Dyvig added that there are two sides to everything because there are good breeders out there and they are trying to meet somewhere in the middle with the protesters.

“We provide the choice to adopt a dog from a shelter or buy one from our store,” Dyvig said. “We simply don’t have a big enough store to have adopted dogs.”

However, Callison emphasizes the importance of adoption, especially with regards to the potential fate of the animal.

“When you buy from a shelter, you are actually saving a life,” Callison said. “You are giving an animal a second lease on life.”