Puppy store searched at South Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” El Dorado County Animal Service officers served a search warrant at Broc’s Puppies on Tuesday afternoon, reportedly seizing a variety of records from the store and prompting the store owner to level allegations of harassment against the officers.
The store has been a thorn in the side of South Shore pet advocates since it opened about a year ago. The advocates claim the store is selling puppies bred in inhumane, factory-like conditions ” operations known as puppy mills.
Although store owner Dennis Franks said he receives puppies from one of the biggest, if not the biggest, dog broker in the U.S. ” the Goodman, Mo.-based Hunte Corporation, he says he does not sell puppies bred in puppy mills. Following the search on Tuesday, Franks said “there is no such thing” as puppy mills.
Animal Services Lt. Robert Gerat declined to comment on the details of the search, which was assisted by South Lake Tahoe Police.
“Right now, that’s currently under investigation,” Gerat said.
El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe also declined comment on the details of the search, although he said records of animals “that have come and gone” through the store were among the items seized.
“There are some concerns, and it’s just really premature to comment on them,” Uthe said.
No puppies were taken from the store, but boxes were carted out, along with a file cabinet drawer, and placed in the South Lake Tahoe Police Crime Scene Unit van.
Franks stood at the store’s back entrance while officers hauled out the items. Although he declined immediate comment, Franks later said a computer tower, receipts, tax documents and America Kennel Club papers were among the items seized during the warrant service.
“They’re messing me up, there was no reason for this,” an obviously frustrated Franks said Tuesday. He said the raid was part of systematic harassment by pet advocates.
“I’m coming to get every one of their jobs,” Franks said. “I’m tired of this harassment.”
Although Franks was still operating the store as of Tuesday evening, he said the extent of the raid has hurt his bottom line and “could very well put me out of business.”
He said the store is “trying the best we can” to follow the law.
“We try to do everything by law. We try to follow the law the best we can. It’s impossible to be perfect,” Franks said.
A copy of a search warrant for Tuesday’s raid had not been returned to the El Dorado County Superior Court clerk’s office by Tuesday afternoon, according to a clerk at the office, but Uthe said he was hopeful the investigation into the store could conclude within two weeks.
“We’re not interested in keeping anyone in the dark on this, we just have be sure we have the facts,” Uthe said.
In April, the City Council passed an ordinance that will ban the retail sale of puppies and kittens in South Lake Tahoe in May 2011.
“Tribune staff writer Sara Thompson contributed to this story.