This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," December 12, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: This is such an outrage. We're calling it "the big outrage" tonight. A posh pet store in one of America's ritziest towns, Bel Air, California, is in the doghouse tonight for selling pricy pooches supplied by illegal puppy mills. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States today revealed undercover footage proving that the pet store to the stars is clients...
JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: Are crooked. These clients include Paris Hilton and Denise Richards. They peddle puppies not born in the lap of luxury but raised rather in some pretty horrid conditions. BIG STORY correspondent Douglas Kennedy investigates the puppy scandal. What's going on, Douglas?
DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, these puppies were certainly mistreated, John and Heather, but that didn't stop some celebrities from shelling out big bucks. One of the mills dogs, for instance, sold for over $3,000.
KENNEDY (voice-over): They say their hounds are high class, man's best friend for the rich and famous. But in fact, these dogs are duds, milled in the Midwest at puppy mills, according to a recent undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States.
WAYNE PACELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY PRESIDENT: A lot of people think they're doing a good thing by getting these puppies out of the pet stores and they have no idea they are supporting thousands of puppy mils, thousands of them, perhaps ten thousand in the nation, that are mistreating dogs and treating them like agricultural commodities.
KENNEDY: The store is Pets of Bel Air, located in the heart of one of America's toniest towns and it claims the community's celebrities as clients, including Paris Hilton, Demi Moore, Britney Spears and Robin Williams.
One employee recently bragged to the Humane Society's undercover investigator.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had like two bulldogs here and Denise Richards came in and bought both of them.
KENNEDY: But while Denise thought she was getting high pedigreed pups, the Humane Society says many of their dogs come from these puppy mills where caged young canines are kept in horrible conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And these dogs are what is known as cage crazy. Frantic circling is an indication that an animal is deprived of basic requirements for mental health.
KENNEDY: In fact, their own Web site says explicitly "we do not use puppy mills." And according to the Humane Society, the employees at the pet store are coached to lie about their hounds histories.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The main question isn't where do they come from, but do they come from puppy mills? And it's always a no. Which is true, it's no, no, no, no, no.
KENNEDY: Puppy mills are not necessarily illegal, but according to the Humane Society, they often breed sickly dogs who grow up to have bad respiratory problems. Still, the city of Los Angeles did respond to the Humane Society's disturbing report and shut the Pets of Bel Air down temporarily for failing to file proper permits to sell live animals.
ED BOKS, L.A. ANIMAL SERVICES: That's the real tragedy here, is that this is largely symbolic. All they have to do is pay their permit fees and they can open up for business again.
KENNEDY: In fact, the Humane Society recommends avoiding pet stores altogether. They say if you want to really want to avoid milled puppies, you have to go to a private breeder, or better yet, do some good, John and Heather, and get your dog from a shelter.
GIBSON: Well, now, these celebrity dog scandals, Douglas — can we actually save the puppies?
KENNEDY: Can we save these puppies that are — that were in this store?
NAUERT: Can Paris save her puppies?
KENNEDY: You can buy these puppies. The mill puppies are available for sale. The Humane Society wants to shut down these mils, but they say it is almost impossible to write legislation that would enable them to do so, so they are sponsoring legislation across the country that will protect puppies when they are in these mills. You can go to their Web site if you want.
GIBSON: All right, Douglas Kennedy - Douglas, thank you very much.
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