After years of complaints and court battles, Puppy Boutique Store in Oakland Park is out of business.
The shop, a confection of tiny black paw prints painted on pink and white everything, has been under eviction notice for 16 months as owner Jim Anderson sued the City of Oakland Park in attempt to stay open after the city passed a law banning dog and cat sales.
Located in a dingy, low-slung strip of storefronts at 4001 N. Federal Hwy., Puppy Boutique has few contents remaining, but for shelving and stand-alone counters. A store staffer on Saturday told the Broward New Times that Puppy Boutique Store would open for its final day, on Sunday, with a dozen or so puppies still for sale, starting at $2,350.
She did not say whether the shop would open again elsewhere, but Anderson filed business paperwork with the state this past June for VIP Dogs Inc. in Pembroke Pines. The store, located at 6749 Pembroke Rd., is currently unoccupied and under renovation. Broward County tax records show an updated business location for Puppy Collection Inc., under which Puppy Boutique Store operated, to a Pak Mail box in Davie.
Donna Watson, an animal rescue organizer and founder of Dr. Donna's Pet Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, says she and other local activists "worked very hard to see Jim Anderson leave Oakland Park. Wherever he ends up opening next will be a black eye and plague on that community."
Anderson's high-end pet store, which specialized in Paris Hilton-style teacup puppies and has a long history of legal battles, is at the center of a lawsuit prompted by a City of Oakland Park law passed in late 2017 barring the sale of dogs and cats within city limits. The city is one of an estimated 66 Florida municipalities that ban store pet sales, ordinances meant to put puppy mills out of business and stop animal abuse. Anderson sued, arguing Oakland Park's law infringed on his right to do business, and pressed for a temporary injunction that would have allowed the store to remain open while the case was pending.
Broward County Judge Jack Tuter denied the request on Feb. 20, 2018, saying Anderson's case was almost wholly without merit, as was his injunction request.
Puppy Boutique Store nonetheless remained open — until now.
Animal rights advocate Ana Campos said she was happy the shop is closed. "Puppy Boutique and Jim Anderson's reign of terror is over in Oakland Park."
Anderson's attorney, Roberto Stanziale, of Fort Lauderdale, said Oakland Park's law scapegoats stores and store owners, when bad breeders are the real villains.
"If you get rid of these stores, people just buy [puppies] online, and they get shipped in," Stanziale says. "In cities where they pass these bans ... people are still getting the dogs they want, but they’re getting them in states far away. They don’t know the seller, they’re not protected by the puppy lemon law, they don’t have the ability to go into the store, and say, 'Hey, I have a problem with my puppy.'”
Anderson did not return calls for comment.
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Michele Lazarow, Animal Defense Coalition president, was circumspect about the Puppy Boutique closure.
"Jim Anderson has had consistent complaints the decades he has been selling puppies," she said Monday.
Lazarow, who also serves as a commissioner in Hallandale Beach, says her animal advocacy group intends to continue pushing cities to pass sales bans. She hopes such laws eventually become state law.
"Perhaps our next city will be wherever Anderson plans to open his new operation."