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Mall Pet Stores Closing in Phoenix
Protestors, including this group, picketed against pet stores in Phoenix malls every week for three years.

The sale of purebred puppies in at least nine Phoenix area malls is about to end. The Arizona Republic reported in November that Macerich, the parent company of Westcor (the malls’ owner) will not renew existing pet store leases. Instead, shelters and/or animal rescues will be offered space to boost adoptions because pet overpopulation is such a huge problem in Maricopa County. In 2010, shelters took in 94,000 dogs and cats and euthanized 50,000. The rescue community wants that to change.

News of the closings delighted Aprille Hollis public information officer for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. “So many homeless animals in our county wait to be adopted,” Hollis says. “Any time or place that these animals can be highlighted is wonderful.”

For years national animal welfare organizations, such as the ASPCA and HSUS, rallied against mall pet stores because many deal with puppy mills, which range from backyard breeders to large scale operations that breed dogs around the cycle and force them to live in substandard, inhumane conditions.

For more than 30 years, Frank Mineo and his family operated pet stores in Phoenix. Mineo says he doesn’t deal with puppy mills. “We have a strict ‘do not buy’ list that we keep of breeders that we will not purchase from,” he says. Mineo is currently negotiating with Macerich about a new concept to work with rescue groups and shelters.

Several local malls already offer shoppers the chance to adopt dogs and cats. The Arizona Humane Society operates adoption centers in the Biltmore Fashion Center and Desert Sky Mall. More than 1,500 pets have been adopted over the past two years, says Bretta Nelson, public relations manager. “These storefronts have truly expanded the walls of the Humane Society allowing us the opportunity to adopt out more animals,” Nelson adds. The county also opened an adoption center at Metro Center Mall in January 2011 and at least 775 pets found new homes since then.

Local businesses collaborate with the rescue community to advocate for pet adoptions. According to Bari Mears, president and founder of the Phoenix Animal Care Coalition, “PACC realizes the great value of engaging the local business community to help save animals.” Mears appreciates the support from financial services company KPMG and Ford dealer Earnhardt’s for hosting annual adoption events for the rescue community where dozens of pets are adopted.

There’s a slow but steady trend away from pet store puppies to adoption in other cities too. For example, Austin, Tex., and West Hollywood, Calif., recently banned the sale of pet store puppies. Pet stores closed in Longmont, Colo., and Sedalia, Mo. Concerned animal lovers regularly protest outside pet stores across the country, including Phoenix, to educate the public about the plight of puppy mills. Protesters started showing up outside Phoenix malls almost three years ago. They converge on a different mall each weekend weather permitting. But other cities seem unfazed over the outcry. Thousands of pet stores allegedly with links to puppy mills continue to operate.

Nelson says the Humane Society cannot thank Macerich enough for their partnership. “We recognize daily that we could not continue to save thousands of lives without their support and the support of the community.”

The pet story closures extend beyond Phoenix. Macerich announced it is banning pet store sales in 70 malls across the United States. Kimberly Hastings, spokeswoman for Macerich, declined to comment for this story.

Debra J. White is an award winning freelance writer in Tempe. She serves on the board of the Phoenix Animal Care Coalition, volunteers with the Arizona Animal Welfare League and the Sierra Club and at Sky Harbor Airport. She lives with two rescued dogs.
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Submitted by Nancy | December 6 2011 |

Animal Advocates in Iowa are well aware of the puppy mill situation and are currently holding protests every weeekend until the end of December at a pet shop in Ames IA.

Submitted by AZPyrs | December 7 2011 |

Great results and great story, deb! Keep up the good work. Bruce thanks you, too!

Submitted by Karin | December 7 2011 |

BRAVO Westcor!!!!
A very good reason to start supporting your malls! I have had a policy to not buy anything in malls with pet stores.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 7 2011 |

I was one of those people bought a maltese from one here in phoenix. He was deaf and had a bunch of other health issue. They offered us a credit. We kept him but he has been sick on and off since he came to us..

Submitted by Houndfrog | December 7 2011 |

I wish there was this much of an uproar at abortion clinics.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 7 2011 |

There is and then they blow up the building and kill anyone else in the area. Nice to be "pro-life" Don't abort but also don't help raise the child that the parent realizes they can't care for. Wait til he's 18 then send him off to war. Ahhh pro-life. I wish they'd be consistent. Not anti-war, not for universal healthcare, etc.

Submitted by dkrbimhtbr | December 7 2011 |

my thought exactly!! :)

Submitted by Anonymous | December 8 2011 |

Why do people always have to hijack an article? This is a nice story. Jeesh.

Submitted by Liz | December 8 2011 |

Everyone can do their part, Houndfrog. Just as we rescue pets, that would otherwise be killed, you can foster a child. The foster system is full of the victims of the Meth epidemic. I know, I have two here, along with my 18 rescue dogs.

There are suffering children AND pets out there. Please do your part to help the children that have already been born, with nowhere to go and no one to love them.

Submitted by Craig | December 7 2011 |

Wonderful news for the Puppies! The Pet supplies and other needed goods to care for pets and animals is a valuable services to provide.....

BUT, not at the cost of what puppy mills are doing. Want a Beagle, an Aussie or just a great mutt. Visit or Google animal rescues, Humane Society, Pound or Animal Shelter near you. Or, Google a professional breeder for specific puppy breed. The prices from breeder are often less and you'll be working with those that manage the numbers of puppies to keep the quality of the breed up.... and it's NOT just a business to them, it's their love and passion.


Submitted by Anonymous | December 7 2011 |

San Diego is also on the campaign! The San Diego Animal Defense Team is currently protesting the owners of three pet stores who also sell online -- and working on an ordinance to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores. www.sdanimaldefenseteam.blogspot.com

Submitted by Anonymous | December 7 2011 |

Mr. Mineo is either lying, out of touch with his company dealings or has NO idea what a puppy mill really is. I worked for this company briefly in the early 90's and went every week for 5 months to the airport to pick up the new puppies that went to the MetroCenter and Paradise Valley malls. Every invoice was from Kansas, Missouri, Texas and other states NOTORIOUS for puppy mills. Not one company agent EVER went to any of these kennels personally to inspect the premises. Believe the CEO who polishes his personal empire's image or believe someone who actually worked behind the scenes and left because she wanted to be able to sleep at night. You decide.

Submitted by Jamie | December 9 2011 |

Frank Mineo owns a store in Tucson too. His manager, Amanda, told me they buy dogs from the Hunte Corporation of Missouri, which may be the largest puppy mill broker in the nation.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 28 2013 |

I help rescue pups from the puppy mills in Missouri...anyone who supports breeding and especially the puppy mills should be held accountable. The momma dogs that I foster and find homes for are the sweetest girls, but so timid. They come to us in bad shape.

Submitted by Dog Bone Ranch | December 8 2011 |

Thank you, Macerich! At a time when there's a commercial real estate slump, and malls are in need of tenants, you took the high road and chose to do the right thing, instead of thinking about the bottom line. How many companies would do this, especially in this economy?

Macerich, you are saving untold numbers of suffering little souls! God Bless you and Merry Christmas! I will be shopping at my local Westcore Mall (Chandler Fashion Center) and singing your praises from shop to shop!

Finally, a corporate entity that chooses GOOD over MONEY!!! What a great holiday story!!!!!

Submitted by Liz | December 8 2011 |

Wow! What a heartwarming Christmas story! Macerich, at a time when there's a commercial real estate slump, and malls are in need of tenants, you chose to do the right thing instead of thinking about the bottom line!

You have saved untold numbers of suffering little souls this Christmas; what a wonderful holiday story: a corporate entity that chooses to do the right thing, over making money!

I will be shopping at Chandler Fashion center this season, and singing your praises from shop to shop!

God Bless you!

Submitted by Anonymous | December 9 2011 |

This is an amazing step forward for human-kind. Thank you so much Macerich for doing the right thing, I can now ethically shop at your malls here in the Phoenix area!

Best news I've heard in a while, what a wonderful thing to do for the animals in need and to help put an end to puppy mills in general at the same time.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 10 2011 |

Thank god..and for the person who wrote about abortion clinics.. people make choices..the bred to death and abused animals do not...Hope ALL pet stores get the message and those horrible people who breed these dogs STOP and go away..

Submitted by Jan McClellan | December 12 2011 |

Frank Mineo is a bald-faced liar! His mall store chain is called Puppies N Love and Animal Kingdom. He does not have a "do not buy" list. He takes whatever Hunte Corp. (the largest USDA Class B animal broker in the U.S.) brings him. We investigated every one of his Phoenix area stores and took the names of the breeders. We then looked them up on the USDA-APHIS website and found the majority of these puppy mill breeders to have multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, sometimes repeated violations. We requested a meeting with Mineo, on more than occasion, to discuss our concerns and findings and he did not even have the decency to respond to us. He and his son are despicable, they run a disreputable operation, and scam the public both emotionally and financially. Let him go down in disgrace.

Submitted by Jan McClellan | December 13 2011 |

By the way, Puppies N Love employees came out to get our handout. They know what it contains. Mineo has not denied any of our allegations. If anything we've said or written is not fact, he would have had his lawyers after us. Come on, Frank, bring it on.

Submitted by Debra J. White | January 20 2012 |

Follow up to this story. Two more Phoenix area pet stores closed. A process is on-going to put in two rescue groups as promised. Hip hip hoorah for homeless animals. Perhaps this is a trend that will sweep across the US and finally stop puppy mills.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 25 2012 |

Obviously puppy mill institutions are disgusting... But what is there proof of the actual success rate of these in mall shelters? Are dogs really being adopted? I hope that more people will support these new shelters and adopt through them! It's is great that Westcor is finally taking some action, the only sad thing is.... All of the jobs that are going to be eliminated, in this economy we can't afford to be losing work! Because even if people don't agree with the owners the employees do not have a daily dealing with the source of the dogs, and most probably don't really understand where these dogs are coming from. I think there could have been a better arrangement one that helps the stores stay open but uses a more "dog friendly" concept.

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