Task force to repress dog trade

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A task force of dozens of Southern California animal control agencies Tuesday outlined ambitious plans to attack the “puppy pipeline” – a network of breeders and smugglers who sneak puppies across the border from Mexico into California.At a news conference in San Clemente, members of the Border Puppy Task force laid out follow-up plans to their just-completed, two-week border operation that tallied hundreds of dogs being smuggled across checkpoints at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.In coming months, task force members said they plan to:conduct follow-up investigations targeting puppy smugglers,look into supporting legislation to fight the problem,consider keeping a presence at the border, andeducate the public about the puppy smuggling trade.“We’re trying to determine whether a law, a (state Department of) Health Services directive, or an executive order would best solve this problem,” said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles.“It’s being researched now. We’re trying to do it relatively quickly, in time for the new legislative season.”The puppy pipeline starts at “puppy mile,” a stretch of road 1 mile from the U.S. border in Tijuana, where dozens of 4- to 6-week old puppies are sold for $125 to $200 each.Vendors claim the puppies are healthy and vaccinated; animal rescue officials say most are unweaned and many are deathly ill.Once in California, the puppies are sold for $600 or more to unsuspecting buyers, said Capt. Aaron Reyes of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey, one of 14 animal rescue agencies involved in the Border Puppy Task Force.During its two-week effort at the border, the task force counted 1,579 dogs in 1,157 vehicles, including 155 puppies between 3 and 6 months old, and 362 puppies less than 3 months old.“We thought this would be the best time (to focus on the border), because of the holidays and Christmas,” Reyes said. “Nothing will warm your heart like a puppy. However nothing will break your heart like a puppy dying on you.”U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Vince Bond said the seriousness of the problem prompted his agency to work with the task force.“Our primary focus right now after 9/11 is weapons, anti-terrorism, and illegal immigrants,” he said. “But often, our officers will encounter a very nervous motorist and knows something is wrong with this picture. Sometimes it’s Cuban cigars, sometimes it’s steroids, narcotics, people – and sometimes it’s puppy dogs.“Often these dogs are in great distress. They’re either too young or have heat exhaustion or are dehydrated. Sometimes they have parvovirus, distemper or rabies.”Monica Westphaln, 33, of Rancho Cucamonga believes two Maltese puppies she bought through an ad in the PennySaver last month may have been smuggled in from Mexico.After meeting the seller – who said she was from Whittier – at a Denny’s in Hacienda Heights, Westphaln said she paid $450 for a puppy she named Jeremiah.Three days and hundreds of dollars in medical bills later, Jeremiah died of internal bleeding. The seller agreed to replace it with another Maltese puppy, which also died, of parvovirus. Now the seller won’t return her calls, Westphaln said.The deaths saddened her children, she said.“They’ve gone through two deaths in such a short period of time,” she said. [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026last_img read more