Pet Shop Owner Withdraws Harassment Complaint; Faces Payment of Legal Fees

posted: August 9th, 2011 01:15 pm | 13Comments

The owner of a Corona del Mar pet shop has withdrawn a harassment claim against an animal rights protester but faces more than $5,000 in legal fees because of a SLAPP motion, according to online court records and the woman’s attorney.

Brooke Bradford filed for a temporary restraining order against Carole Davis on July 22 after a confrontation between the two women inside the I Heart Puppies shop at 2801 East Coast Highway. She later consulted with an attorney, and they decided to drop the case because there had been no other incidents, said the lawyer, Richard Feld.

“We felt it wasn’t necessary,” Feld said today. “We respect Carole’s and her group’s First Amendment rights as long as the safety of the store and the animals were intact.”

The request for dismissal was filed in Orange County Superior Court on Friday, online records show.

Davis, who is the West Coast Director for the Companion Animals Protection Society, has been investigating the store and has alleged that some of the puppies sold there come from puppy mills. About 140 protesters, including Davis, attended a rally on Sunday in front of the shop; read our story here.

On Thursday, court records show, Davis filed a SLAPP motion, which is a claim that she was exercising her right to freedom of speech in connection with the harassment claim. That motion has not been withdrawn, Feld said, and Bradford faces paying Davis’ attorney fees, which are more than $5,000, if Davis prevails, he said. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 31.

“Carole wants to proceed with the action against Brooke even though the action has been dropped,” he said. Davis was never served and never appeared in court on the matter, he said. “The tables certainly have been turned,” he said, adding that the protesters and legal matters have taken a toll on Bradford and her business.

Davis’ lawyer, Bryan Pease, said the SLAPP law isn’t meant as a punishment but to compensate for billable hours spent on these types of cases.

“The defense of the restraining order has incurred a lot of time and energy, and the plaintiff in this type of suit that is designed to chill free speech is required to pay the legal fees of the defendant,” he said.

When asked to comment, Davis issued the following statement via email:

“I don’t speak for our attorneys, they are the legal experts. My expertise is puppy mills and the pet stores that keep them in business. I Heart Puppies needs to listen to the cries of OC’s shelter animals who need homes, to the cries of dogs being tortured in pet factories and lastly, to the voice of the people who came out yesterday in the most powerful animal rights demonstration CDM has ever had in its history.”

Read our earlier stories about the pet shop and surrounding controversy here, here, here and here.

13 Responses to “Pet Shop Owner Withdraws Harassment Complaint; Faces Payment of Legal Fees”



August 9th, 2011

My impression of the I Puppies store owners is that they are young niave and have a lack of good resource in advise. This is truely an opportunity to promote their business, which most likely would have failed anyway. This immature oppositional defiant behavior. STOP. Think about this a moment. You love dogs, animal rights activist love dogs too. When does any new budiness get this much press, really. Girls, girls girls, be business women and capitalize on this rare opportunity. 140 people outside your store offered to make a purchase. It is not ego time. Do the right thing and make money, everyone including the dogs can be happy. The USDA does not have your back, nor do the bad advice givers in your life.


August 9th, 2011

It's the puppies that will be paying the shop owner's legal fees. What a sad irony.

Carole S

August 9th, 2011

Ms. Bradford, the owner of "I Heart Puppies," is the one who started this by filing a restraining order. The court denied her, and her attempt to silence the truth and intimidate activists failed. She can still turn this around and become a shining light in Corona Del Mar instead of a stain.


August 9th, 2011

Hopefully the owner will see that "The path to least resistance" leads to all dog lovers. Do the right thing and you'll feel better that you did. Thanks, Jon

Pam, Newport Beach

August 9th, 2011 Showing on HBO August 24th, all petstores get their puppies from inhumane breeding facilities.


August 9th, 2011

Mmm The legal system here in California must be very different from what they're use to in Utah. Welcome to California ladies. Frivolous claims and lawsuits are not appreciated or tolerated by the courts here. IHP keeps digging themselves in deeper and deeper and deeper with their attempted manipulations and lies.

John David Chisolm

August 9th, 2011

I am not sure people who work in or own pet stores are very well-educated? I've never met one who had a college education or anything close. Trust me, ask anyone involved with breeding or pets stores what their level of education is; I believe the answer you'll find from all of them speaks for itself. I believe this is part of the problem -- they have never done any research into the industry they've invested in, even though the cruelty of puppy mills & the overcrowding of cats and dogs in California animal shelters are subjects that have been all over the news for years. Maybe pet store owners are a segment of the illiterate of our society? I am not sure where they are coming from, but I have never caught a pet store worker reading a book or newspaper. I would like to believe that the pet store industry is just a group of unfathomably ignorant human beings; to accept that they actually know what they are participating in is just too disturbing. I wish people would do a little research before starting a business! Sad.

Corona Real Estate Agent

August 10th, 2011

Wow. These activists are a piece of work. Any of you who own any animals are guilty of what you charge. If you have one, you've caused someone else to purchase one in an inhumane (as you put it) circumstance.

Joseph Sam

August 10th, 2011

I’ve been following CdM Today’s coverage of “Puppy-gate 2011” and I don’t usually comment on people’s posts, but John Chisolm, it doesn't seem like you know many breeders. I've only been involved with breeders and dog shows for the past 8 years and I know breeders who are judges, attorneys, doctors and veterinarians, all of whom are very well educated and well respected in their professions. They have kennels and breed dogs responsibly. Breeders and owners will always exist who are un-educated or don’t have a high level of education and should not be in business, but that can be true with any business. I don’t think you should make a generalization about all breeders and a profession it seems you know very little about. Why would you see a pet store owner or worker reading a newspaper or a book, they are not at the store to read, they are there to WORK and run a business! I Heart Puppies is a business, not an adoption agency; it’s a very nice thought, but doesn’t really pay the bills. Everyone going to shelters and rescuing pets would be a wonderful thing, but that’s not the case. Some people want a pet without “baggage” which can come with an animal you get from a shelter or rescue. We’ve fostered many rescues over the years, rehabilitated them and placed them in homes, but that’s not for everyone. I would never buy an animal from a pet store, but at the same time it’s not my place to impose my beliefs on others and to damn someone for wanting to love an animal, regardless of where it came from. I do applaud CAPS in their crusade on puppy mills, but is I Heart Puppies really as villainous as they are made out to be? They’ve been in business for a little over a month and supposedly complaints started pouring in within a week of being in business, sounds like some people are just fishing for something to be against. Read through the comments on each article and look for the few comments in favor of I Heart Puppies, those few comments always seem to become the target of the next comment… just take it down a notch people.


August 10th, 2011

I think this business could be an asset to the community if they offered shelter dogs/puppies instead of the USDA brand. My wish is that they have a change of heart now that they know better and that the community goes beyond forgiving to supporting with their shopping dollars if the change is made.


August 11th, 2011

@Joseph S. While I agree with what you say at the beginning about making generalizations about all breeders and the profession as a whole and most certainly, yes, puppy mills are horrid to say the least, you lost me when you question whether or not IHP is really as villainous as they are made out to be. How can you applaud the work that CAPS does but then turn right around and question that IHP may not be so villainous? They do for a fact buy their puppies from known breeding factory puppy mills. I can understand if these women were ignorant on the issue of puppies mills but on the flip side it does not excuse them for not being intimately familiar with their inventory and where it comes from and under the conditions in which it's raised. Do we as consumers simply buy whatever we want regardless of where it comes from? No, consumers have become conscientious shoppers and when people find out a product is being produced by the use of child labor or uses toxic materials in the making, as warnings and labels have become more informative, people become educated on these things and they stop buying them. These women cared not where their puppies came form or how they were shipped to their store. They never bothered to visit the mills they buy their puppies from and if they ever did and still bought puppies from them? Then that makes them inherently evil to the nth degree. These women care about money and money period. They knew what they were doing is wrong the moment Laguna Beach told them, -NO we don't want your kind of business in our city-. Had IHP wanted to be an outlet for sponsoring shelter animals I have no doubts Laguna Beach would have welcomed them with open arms. But now with the evidence collected, and without any shadow of a doubt, IHP continues to lie to their new neighbors, lies to the business district, lies to the press, files frivolous claims in court which were tossed quickly, and they continue to lie to consumers that they don't get their dogs from puppy mills! They had a sign up last week proclaiming that, 'they PROMISED' that they didn't support puppy mills and yet their inventory is shipped in from these mid-west breeders that are known puppy mills. Tell me how is that not "villainous?" We consumers demanded to know the origin of our food but we could care less where our pets come from? That makes no sense at all. So I'll tell you what, when there are no more sales of puppy mill animals in retail stores (cats too), and when there are no more animals factories churning out inventory born of suffering, disease and death, then and only then will I take it down a notch! Until then? *HANTA YO!* I think it's time to start labeling the cages of these puppies with regularly updated pictures of the parents, the cages they live in and ground and aerial photos of the whole facility, a photo ID of the owner(s) and all USDA inspection/violation reports from the previous 3 years should be attached to every single cage for every single 'for sale' puppy that sits in one. If people saw and read for themselves they would instantly turn right around and walk out.


August 11th, 2011

Do not understand WHY these women, who have this cutsie store have not gone humane. If they researched the reality of puppy mills, they wouldn't be so arrogant. They would get rescue puppies/dogs/cats from shelters, the monies spent in their store would support their wallets and souls. They look a whole lot smarter than they are acting! God bless true animal lovers for caring and educating America.

Christy Schilling

August 11th, 2011

Many pets in the world suffer not only neglect and humiliation, but also horrible violence at the hands of people. They deserve our love, respect and protection for selflessly giving us theirs. DO THE RIGHT THING AND STOP SELLING ANIMALS THEY ARE NOT PRODUCT!!!

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