In the rear parking lot of the pet store Pups 4 Love in Albertson, it was just another typical day for Roslyn Harbor resident and dog advocate Rino DiMaria, who was picking up his laundry at the local laundromat next door when he saw puppies being delivered. The delivery piqued his interest, prompting him to pull out his phone and start recording. What happened to DiMaria next, is someone’s worst nightmare.
“I’m in this parking lot every week, sometimes twice a week picking up or dropping off my laundry. I saw these two vans, one with Arkansas plates and another with Missouri plates,” said DiMaria, owner of Joanne’s Gourmet Pizza in Roslyn. “I simply just pulled out my phone to make a little video and show some of my friends who are dog and animal advocates. Immediately, they [deliverymen] approached my car very belligerently. The owner came out with a horrible temperament…”
Next thing DiMaria knew, one of the men pulled him out of his car and started to beat him.
“At first it was two guys on me and then a third guy,” explained DiMaria. “I tried [to fight back], but I had to protect myself and curl up. I was getting kicked in the ribs, kicked in the face. When I could finally fight back and get myself standing on my feet to face off with the three of them, that’s when it came to a close.”
DiMaria called an ambulance thinking that his ribs might have broken when police showed up.
One arrest was made, however in the assault. Nassau County Police arrested Christopher Hyde of Springfield, MO, who participated in kicking and punching DiMaria in his face and body. The other unknown subject fled the scene. Hyde was charged with third-degree assault and was arraigned at First District Court in Hempstead.
“Missouri and Arkansas are two of the biggest puppy mill states out there,” said DiMaria. “When I saw these two vans pull up right at the back door of the [Pups 4 Love] place that said they get their dogs from legitimate breeders I became very suspect.”
DiMaria, who is still sore and is suffering from dizziness and headaches after the fight, said that all he was doing was recording what he saw and didn’t engage the men at all.
“I wasn’t screaming at the guys,” he said. “The only commentary you’ll hear in that video is me talking to the phone. I was just going to post it with my animal advocate friends. I didn’t even name the place. It just turned horribly violent.”
On its Facebook page, Pups 4 Love released a statement about the incident explaining that the altercation happened between employees of an independent third party company who transport pets to pet stores.
“These delivery company individuals work very hard to ensure that all puppies are safely transported to our store and to many other pet stores around our region as well,” read the statement. “We want to emphasize too that these delivery workers are in no way employed by Pups 4 Love, and as such we do not control or necessarily condone their own individual words or actions. The man who verbally insulted the delivery drivers also made allegations that our puppies come from ‘puppy mills’, which is untrue. All of our dogs come from USDA certified and licensed breeders. We bring in the highest quality dogs for our customers from the best breeders in the states with the most stringent breeding laws. We are inspected at random by four different agencies and comply with all local, state and national regulations and laws, which would forbid us from bringing in dogs from improper breeders or unlicensed breeders.”
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website, “being ‘USDA-licensed’ isn’t something to brag about—these standards leave a lot of room for dogs to be severely mistreated and enforcement is abysmal.”
Pups 4 Love also apologized for the way the owner reacted during the altercation.
“He [Barry] was upset to witness the aggressive way the local man was taunting the delivery workers and the kinds of false and abusive things the man was saying about them and about our store,” continued the statement. “If you know Barry, you know he goes out of his way everyday to be generous to his customers and to his small team. He has worked very hard since taking over the store to build its reputation based on that go-the-extra mile, family business approach.”
Pups 4 Love concluded by stating that they pride themselves with being 100 percent transparent with its customers and the community, which is why they provide every customer with the USDA license number of the breeder that bred the dog.
“We only want the very best for our puppies and our customers,” said the statement. “We welcome any further, peaceful questions either over the phone or in-person at our store. Also, we invite our customers to share photos and their positive experiences with our store.”
DiMaria says that puppy stores perpetuate the animal abuse that comes from puppy mills.
“Without the puppy stores, the puppy mills don’t need to be around and go out of business,” said DiMaria.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, there will be a protest outside Pups 4 Love, 957 Willis Ave., at 12:30 p.m. that is organized by PuppyMillFreeNewYork.