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Animal Law Podcast #69: The Case of the SPCA and the Puppy Mill

By Mariann Sullivan — February 24, 2021

On this episode of the Animal Law Podcast, I speak with Christopher Berry, a managing attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Litigation Program, where he oversees strategic impact litigation to protect the lives of and advance the interests of animals. Christopher and I speak about Caru SPCA v Anthony, in which a California backyard breeder/puppy mill was shut down by the Superior Court of California for Solano County under various sections of the Vallejo California Municipal Code, along with a California state law entitled the Pet Breeders Warranty Act (Health & Safety Code Sections 122045 – 122315).

In spite of complaints made for years to local authorities, this sub-standard breeding facility for Carolina Dogs had been permitted to continue doing business in spite of the poor treatment of the dogs. What changed? The Caru SPCA appeared on the scene with the mission of preventing “cruelty to animals by use of all legal means, by working cooperatively with law enforcement and humane agencies, by promoting the enforcement of animal protection laws, and by educating others about the laws that protect animals and humane standards of care for animals.” You will want to hear about how this organization came into being, the role of the Animal Legal Defense Fund in aiding in the creation of this independent entity with statewide jurisdiction, and what an SPCA can do that other individuals and organizations are unable to do to protect animals under California law. This could be a game-changing development for animals.

Christopher Berry is a managing attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s litigation program where he oversees and litigates strategic impact cases involving a broad range of animal protection issues. In the wake of government acquiescence of illegal activity, he has brought private enforcement actions in civil court to stop illegal puppy laundering, fur farming of a threatened species, and animal hoarding. He also leverages litigation against the government itself, thereby catalyzing revision of the USDA’s rubberstamp policy for Animal Welfare Act licenses, the USDA’s blackout of records generated under the Animal Welfare Act, and North Carolina’s approval of gas chambers for routine euthanasia at animal shelters.


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