Pets of Bel Air, a popular celebrity puppy emporium, has been exposed for operating without a license for over 3 years. The Humane Society of the United States lead the investigation and officially closed down the store yesterday afternoon for selling puppies from unlicensed mills, for at least $1,000.

The problem with these mills is that without a license there are no rules to govern how they treat their pets. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States stated, “Often, they’re run by farmers who raise soybeans and corn, and this becomes another, more lucrative cash crop for them. It often becomes a dominant source of income because no money is spent on the care of these dogs.”

Pets of Bel Air is famous for their celebrity pooch selling skills, and just recently provided Britney Spears a yorkie and Paris Hilton a Chihuahua. Other celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Sarah Mclachlan and Mary Tyler Moore all get warm fuzzies for helping spread good examples by buying rescued dogs from local shelters. Plus, we all know I kinda have a crush on Alicia Silverstone.

If you’re looking to adopt a new pet this holiday season, I recommend going to and browsing through some adorable, rescued puppies that could all use some serious holiday snuggle time.

  • Andrea

    What a great pic of Paris- wearing a fur stole while carrying a puppy mill puppy. So much compassion on display!

    I recently adopted a mixed breed adult dog from my local shelter. She’s the most wonderful dog ever. And the adoption fee was probably 1/100 of the price of a puppy at this “boutique”.

  • Joe Overlease, “Advocate for Truth in Reporting”

    This story is not true. Whoever wrote this story must have a pound of crack cocaine stuck in their nose.

    1. The Pet store has broken no laws.
    2. The HSUS is not a federal agency of any kind
    3. The Store followed the federal law in the purchase of its puppies.
    4. The Breeders the store does business with are legal and licensed and in good standing.
    5. The Pet store did close for one day due to an administrative error in a permit renewal of its business license, It had nothing to do with any of the animals or business practices.

    This entire affair was a scam by the HSUS to gain some headlines at the expense of a good local business.

    Pets of Bellaire have done a great job offering wonderful puppies to its clients for many years. This is without a doubt a shameful example of “Yellow Journalism”

  • Andrea

    If they failed to renew their permit, they were breaking the law.

    And just because an operation is not doing anything strictly illegal, that does not make their actions automatically ethical. If these puppy mills are operating legally, it just goes to show that we need revised laws that regulate dog breeding.

  • marc fogel

    Exactly what did they do or not do.
    Where any dogs abused by them or their breeders?
    Where can I find out the facts?
    If the rumors are true than they deserve to be closed but I want to know the facts first.

  • parrish

    Hey Marc. The Los Angeles Times did a story on this. To view, go to this link:,0,6795042.story?coll=la-home-center

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  • Joe Overlease, “Advocate for Truth in Reporting”

    Erin.. You are missing the point.

    As usual when we venture into the arena of companion animals emotions run high. We all love our animals and want the very best for them.

    The HSUS is trying to make a point about sub standard conditions that exist in illegal unlicensed facilities. The examples of the kennels they referred to are licensed, inspected and legal kennels.

    Aside from the administrative error with renewal of a permit, Pets of Bel Air is conducting business legally and there were no complaints of animal abuse or of neglect anywhere as far as we can find.

    Actually we have found lots of very positive comments about the store and of the high quality of the pets purchased there.

    The report claimed employees were making statement that were not true about the health of the dogs. But the report also failed to mention the store provides an excellent health guarantee should there be any problems. And again we have not found any problems with the Pet Store not fulfilling their guarantee.

    The fact remains the report was not fair, and seemingly errors in fact have occurred as well.

    I am sure fair minded Americans would agree that to discredit a business for following the law, buying animals through the federally inspected supply system from legal and licensed facilities as they are supposed to do, is a tragic misuse of the media.

    Think what you may.. but the story here is not the abuse of the animals, it is the abuse of the pet stores good name and reputation, abuse of the kennel owners who supply animals to the store and a willful abuse of the media.

  • parrish

    Ok guys, since I wrote the darn thing allow me to play Jerry Springer for a second. Joe-I hear you. I don’t think there’s any denying that this particular store is getting a harder slap than say a random suburban pet shop that doesn’t sell dogs to Paris Hilton. Like all things, when celebs are involved the stakes are always higher.

    I think that what Erin, and many of our readers and writers (myself included), are frustrated with is the fact that these stores exist in the first place. I’m gonna be real honest with you: my goal is not to discredit this particular pet shop, but rather to discredit the entire practice. There are so many wonderful animals in shelters that need good homes, it’s annoying to me that people are getting rich off something I deam immoral. And since this is a blog and not journalism, I can say whatever I want.

    So yes, in some ways I’m sorry that Pets Of Bel-Air is taking a harder slap than deserved, but if it helps to shed light on the other alternatives then I say hit as hard as you can. But that’s just me…

  • Joe Overlease, “Advocate for Truth in Reporting”

    Parrish, Cool that you joined in, Thank you.

    There are many issues surrounding “Pets” and to say This guy is OK while that guy is not.. without actually knowing the industry it can be extremely frustrating.

    Here’s is what I know:

    The HSUS in my thinking used very poor judgement going after a legal business who does its best to follow the rules.
    There are far to many out there who do not, (operate within the law) so I think they did it only for the sensational value, and I do expect they will find out what that is going to cost them, Pets of Bel Air, without a doubt, has a lawyer and without question they will be getting to each know other really well in the coming months.

    But my interest in busting stories is in finding the truth.. It is just in my nature of fairness.. If the story has merit, being factual and accurate without embellishment or innuendo, they get a passing grade, no matter the topic.. I don’t care.

    But when people conspire to defame someone because they are trying to advance their cause at some little guys expense, knowing full well the weight of the publicity can and often will simply disable the little guy from defending himself… this is when I step up to the plate.

    I have been a quiet observer for sometime of the activities of the HSUS and other AR interest groups. For the record a lot of people are really afraid of these people, Kennels have been burned down, dogs have been stolen in the night. Threats of damage to their property and harm to their families is not uncommon.

    This story is not going to change one thing in the pet industry, except we may get a chance to change public opinion.

    The breeding industry is a meaningful part of America, like it or not over 60.0% of all American households have pets, and when those loved family members pass on, the families more times than not will buy another one or two to have in their homes.

    Local ordinances, zoning and simply the expense and time it takes to raise a litter of puppies excludes most people from venturing into the business of puppies in the first place, These so called Hobby breeders are unlicensened and in most cases unskilled in the best methods of good animal husbandry. And I can assure you there will be no warranty of guarantee from these people as well.

    In the area of what are called “Puppy Mills” there are without a doubt places that need to be either brought up to standards or closed. There is no reason on earth why our animals should be tormented, live in filth and not be cared for to best of ones abilities.

    As with anything that has no boundaries, or enforcement of the rule of law you will find problems.

    Here is how the laws breakdown in as far as compliance and enforcement of the AWA.
    “Animal Welfare Act”

    When this law was originally passed the government had to stay with in the confines of the Constitution as always.
    Interpretations as to what rights are maintained by the states and what rights the feds have in enforcement.

    In the pet industry, you have breeders and dealers who do business across state lines. And there are two types of business commercial (for resale) and private. The USDA is responsible for enforcement of the laws for commercial business dealings, products for resale and across state lines. The States have the responsibility to regulate and govern private dealings.

    Opposed to going into the specifics of who is what.. It basically works this way. If you sell pets to broker or directly to a Pet Store. The facility is required by law to be a USDA inspected and licensed facility in good standing. It does not matter if you sell one or a thousand you must meet the standards and be licensed.

    Back to the States, in most states there are no laws for licensing or inspections. Some counties have zoning laws but few if any actually have any published standards or enforcement guidelines.

    And there are several conflicts as to who should be licensed as well. The Breeder clubs say “Oh no do make me meet the standards because we raise dogs for the betterment of the breed”, Shelters Say “Oh not me because I am protecting the dogs, (But they Kill em)” and the Rescue people, say basically the same, and all hold themselves out as being better or more wholesome than the other guys.

    The bottom line is each venue has both private and economic turf to protect, all have bad operators as well as good ones. The key to looking at this issue is to follow the money;

    From a pure economic review and I can hear the howling now…

    1. Shelters are dependant on dogs of all kinds to offer for adoption to the public. That is how they make their money. Shelters in on the east coast have been importing dogs to sell, oops adopted for several years to meet their sales , oops adoptions quotas.

    2. Rescues, a great many of the rescues acquire their dogs from breeders as gifts, they are tax deductible and the rescues happily advertise them as “Puppy Mill Rescues”. They also will do shelter pulls, but the pay for them. And they love to go to auctions and buy the dogs because they are always cheap. Rescues sell…oops adopt the dogs for a fee, and they are not cheap, often prices for adoptions run just as much for a puppy when purchased.

    3. Hobby Breeders, this classification is a catch all category. Back yard breeders, the home breeder etc. This is where in out thinking the majority of the mutts come from and the shelter population, they just let their dogs have puppies because it’s fun to have a bunch of puppies around and then give them away to friends or neighbors.
    The other aspect of the household who has a couple of dogs is they will raise a litter or two every year to make extra money. Normally these dogs never have the shots required as puppies, seldom are wormed and treated for parasites.
    But as what we have found there are exception in each are ranging from excellent to horrible.

    And as with the other venues, most of these decisions to breed are money motivated.

    The areas are complex and each segment has valid points, but at the end of they day it is about money more times than not. What is interesting to me is how a group of people who all love dogs spend so much time trying to hurt the other business segments, when after review they are all dependant upon the breeder. to even be in business.

    If your thinking this is like trying to your arms around a pile of spaghetti, you can see why there are so many issues and too many private turfs to protect. No one wants to be regulated, licensed and held accountable for their actions.

    Oh I have seemed to have lost the “Pet Stores” in all of this. There is nothing more American than a Norma Rockwell picture of a child yearning for the puppy in the window. We live in urban environments and most of the general public simply do not have access to breeders, Pet Stores serve a pent-up demand for companion animals in our cities. The Pet Stores must rely on the commercial supply systems as mandated by federal law, however, the laws have a loop hole here. The pet stores are not required to buy from USDA breeders, but the breeders are required to be USDA licensed to sell to a Pet Store. See the problem?

    Most pet stores buy from the established supply system as they know the quality will be good the dogs will have been examined by a vet and certified to be in good health, treated for diseases and they have recourse if the puppies are found to be unfit.

    Of the millions of dogs sold each year there are very few cases where the animals are found to be unfit, although when one is discovered and the emotions run high when we have broken hearts, the media makes a splash and all hell breaks loose over the heartbreaking story.

    In most cases where there is a guarantee and if given a fair chance the Pet Stores and the Brokers and the Breeders will and do honor their commitments.

    The over all problem and to me it is simple one to fix… assuming the local governments and States are willing to make the financial commitments for enforcement… and we are back to the money again. If to have everyone who owns animals to be licensed.

    If you own a dog you must have a dog license. and if you intend to breed you have to have a license for that as well. All puppies must be accounted for as to who they were sold to as indicated by micro chipping and recording the name address and SSN of the buyer.

    The purpose of this is to document ownership and financial accountability should the pet be abandoned at a shelter. The owner of record will be responsible for all expenses required to care for the animal until it has been re-homed or destroyed.

    Breeding animals will be required to be DNA’d so if for some reason the chip was found to be defective or not provided ownership can be traced to the breeder, same rules apply.

    All facilities must be up to the standards of the USDA. No exceptions

    Each State must have everyone who breeds dogs, houses dogs, rescues dogs, shelters and the like meet the same standards. Each state will be required to license and inspect every facility and enforce the AWA laws. The USDA should be an oversight agency, not boots on the ground, to avoid duplication and local conflicts of interest.

    All puppies sold must have two puppy shots and have been treated for kennel cough and treated for parasites and wormed before leaving to the new owners. A health check to certify fitness must accompany each puppy issued by a Vet. Puppies have any defects must be disclosed in advance to the prospective owner.

    I believe if these bold steps were taken we would see an end to the problems as we see today. We will not see an end to violations of the law, actually for a short period we will actually see more cases hit the newspaper, but at the end of the day and after a lot of hard work and capital investment we will see the industry move forward.

    One thing we all must remember when dealing with animals and people,is they are all subject to the ravages of nature, diseases, injury and metal disorder. They are also subject to neglect from owners of all kinds and even the best people fall on hard times
    due to health, death and financial loss.
    Sadly, the animals suffer when this occurs, and we need to have a safety net in place to help when these events occur.

    I hope this helps everyone have a better understanding of the industry.

  • parrish


    I appreciate your passion for the subject. You seem to know a lot about the rules and regulations of the trade, but what I’m saying has nothing to do with rules and regulations. I disagree with the act. I disagreed with it yesterday and I will disagree with it tomorrow. I don’t like the idea of breeding dogs plain and simple. I am the anti-breeder. So, no matter how much you know about this and I know about that, at the end of the day we’re just not gonna see eye to eye and that’s okay. Thanks for your spirited posts though. Nothing like a good debate.

  • Joe Overlease, “Advocate for Truth in Reporting”


    Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the issues openly.

    It is “American” when two people or more have the right to agree to disagree. It’s a great country we have been blessed to live in..

    Yes I do know a lot about the subject, but that does not in anyway forgive those who do a bad job in caring for the animals. I do hope that message did come across as well.

    But, this initial report was created by a non factual and mean spirited news media blast, and it has hurt a lot of good people. Some of these people have been terrorized by constant harassing phone calls and threats, even from places outside of the country. I am sorry but that is not right, no matter the issue.

    And as far as the celebs, being fair game, well I am not so sure about that either, heck they are just people who by the grace of God have been given talents to entertain. And as we all are people we all have a few warts, but that does not mean because of talent, they (Celebs) are in anyway qualified to be held out from the human experience.

    Again, I enjoy the articles and the publications. Maybe in the future we can share a common goal.


  • Coranne

    Joe Overlease is an Ozarks puppy mill breeder.

  • Doreen

    Not only is he a puppy miller, he sells via the internet therefore he is not regulated by the USDA….AND is an aggressive spammer!

  • Debbie

    Don’t forget… He has numerous Champions in show and in field and trial.

    And was the 2005 Breeder of the year.

    Is licensed and has had no “Zero” infractions in over 17 years as a breeder.

    Is considered to be one of the Worlds Best Cocker Spaniel breeders.

    People come from all over the world to get one of his Cocker Spaniels.

  • Nikki

    On your website it says you use USDA “breeders”. You shuld never get a dog form a USDA breeder. They are mass producing. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get a shelter dog or a dog from a breeder where you can see where the puppy lives!!!!

  • Tammy

    I know this is an old artice, but I actually lived in LA and would walk to this pet store weekly. (The store and location is not even in Bel Air, it is just South of Mulholland and Beverly glan, just 1/4 mile from Sherman oaks) Funny, actually. The staff was always so rude to me when I was shopping for a pup there. They were rude and kept the play-pins really dirty. Sometimes there were 3-4 dogs in each small playpin,and there would be pee and poop inside. Not only were the dogs over-priced, some didn’t come with papers for the hefty price tags. Just thought I’d put my 2 cents in from a personal experience. I have a yourkie pup I just got- and paid half the price of what they charge.

  • Debbie “D”

    JOE you are awesome!!! I have folllowed quite a few of your posts and you know what you’re talking about. You stand by and backup your talk. It’s a shame so many people are brainwashed by misinformation from organizations such as the HSUS.
    BUY FROM JOE, a trusted, educated and responsible breeder!

  • andy

    Did any of you watch the undercover video on the hsus site. Seeing the employees lie about sick dogs. Telling new employees never to say the dog is sick but only has sniffles (its cuter). It showed the employees vaccinating the dogs with powerful drugs to combat any lung infections.
    Paris Hilton wearing a fur, why is this ugly woman famous anyway. Anyone purchasing a pet from a pet store is responsible for the suffering of hundreds of animals bred for sale. All the breeders are after is big money, they dont give a shit about the animals as you can see at the website.

    My friend was one of the sheriffs that busted the Tennessee puppy mill and she told me horror stories about the conditions that these poor animals are forced to live in all their lives. This store should be closed, all pet stores should be closed. Watch the video of these pet store employees lie and then tell me it was wrong to close them down.

  • Carie

    Here’s the vid Andy is talking about:

    Joe, Debbie, have your opinions about breeding and the HSUS, but you can’t deny that this is horrible.

    Joe – to put employees and supporters of the HSUS in the same category of AR activists that burn down kennels is absolutely ridiculous.

    This was not a “scam” by the HSUS… this was an investigation that uncovered the sad truth of a very important issue for animals. puppy mill breed misery. period.

    Personally, why anyone would buy from a breeder when there are millions of homeless animals in the US is beyond me.

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  • Miquette P

    I Owned a cocker spaniel when I was 18. Was promised “good bloodlines” “healthy dog” and after I left, never had contact again. Well that puppy got sick. Genetically. Regardless of everything me and my family did to raise her well and keep her healthy. I wanted another. Have been searching for a breeder who I could know without a doubt was doing things right.

    I have found that. Joe Overlease has changed my opinion on how things can be. Dog Lovers need to love something that exists in order for it to be a valid love. How can they still be “animal lovers” if they feel that all breeding needs to cease in existence? So because of greed and selfish motives (money), all breeders are bad? That’s like saying all parents who say “no” to their child are abusers and should be reported to CPS.

    It wasn’t always bad, there were breeders who made it possible to have a puppy to love for your own. So in probable theory, there could still be respectable owners and dog lovers that want to make a change. Rectify the good name of what irresponsible breeders have tarnished.

    If things were to be taken into action as these AR people want, Then everyone will be punished.
    So I can’t have a puppy? Because if you “procreate and replenish” you are automatically being cruel? That’s just pointing fingers. Judging on a subject you can’t see first hand, that’s misusing your rights in this country. Be a human being, do your research on all fields. Do everything you can to create an opinion that no one can shake you from. But to voice that opinion in a respectable way. Not by name calling, not by pointing fingers.
    Yes animals are people too. But look at that concept. There are so many versatile situations that people are raised in. Because of irresponsible people not doing the things to ensure the upbringing, does that mean I will automatically be a bad parent? No.
    So just because some people have abused the privilege when breeding dogs, does not mean EVERYONE does that.
    There are vast verities of people and situations. One bad egg does not mean you should stop making quiches does it? Fix it, move on. One case of food poisoning doesn’t mean you should ban yourself from meat forever. The type of person you are is defined by your actions. Faced with a negative situation, and dealing with it in the right adult way.

    I am so proud to buy one of Joe’s Cocker Spaniels.

    In order to have the goal he is after, to correct the cocker spaniels in the USA, you can’t do it by only having one or two dogs. Big goals require extreme requirements.
    Minorities would still be treated the way they were 100 years ago if it was not for someone standing up and fighting oppression. And you people, are Joe’s oppression. Nothing worth anything is easy.

    I hope that the public persecution being done wont stop the RIGHT people from continuing to breed pure bred animals so that generations on can enjoy having a good and healthy pet.

    For all of people who agree in a brighter tomorrow rather then giving up things when they are dark, Don’t give up.