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Animal-protection advocate from Hull expanding reach

Deborah Howard, founder of Cohasset-based Companion Animal Protection Society, with some of her pets.Handout

RESCUE MISSION: Deborah Howard is seeking local help in preventing cruelty to animals in pet shops and the so-called puppy mills that supply them.

Howard founded the Cohasset-based Companion Animal Protection Society in 1992, and has since taken her fight nationwide. Though the pet-store issue isn't as big in Massachusetts (there are no pet shops in Boston, she said), there are chain pet stores in communities across the area, and she'd like to launch protests there.

"We need protesters," said Howard, a 54-year-old resident of Hull. "We're not doing any in this area; we're doing New York, Chicago, Florida, California, places like that, but would do them here if we had a good protest organizer."


She's gotten a lot of national publicity for her cause, and this year launched a "Models Against Pet Shops and Puppy Mills" campaign. It began with the help of professional model Kiley Wirtz Jennings , who heard about CAPS and offered the services of fellow models, stylists, a fashion photographer, videographer, and rescue dogs to create a public-service blitz. Those ads air nationwide on public-broadcasting channels and appear on billboards and transit posters.

The posters feature models with rescue dogs, including Beatrice, a basset hound that was rescued by Howard from a puppy mill in South Dakota 10 years ago and now lives with Howard and other rescued animals, including two cats from shelters in Brockton. Beatrice is the soulful face of the campaign, and has her own business cards and more than 1,400 Facebook fans as well as more than 500 connections on LinkedIn.

"We have 700 posters in the New York City transit system and 500 in New Jersey," Howard said. "I'm hoping to get them on the MBTA system by late spring."

In June, CAPS helped San Diego become the second-largest city in the country to prohibit pet stores from selling animals that are obtained from puppy mills. In late May, Howard was named a "Hero Among Us" by people.com. There is also a new campaign to get Beatrice on the shows of Ellen DeGeneres and Rachael Ray;a petition at www.change.com would make Beatrice a celebrity, enhancing her chances to get on TV.


Her cause is "a calling, it's my passion," said Howard, whose work in the early 1990s to root out pet-shop conditions led to two "20/20" exposes and the eventual bankruptcy in 1993 of Docktor Pet Centers. "When I walked into one of their stores in Atlanta and saw the conditions, I knew I had to do something."

The easiest way for pet-loving consumers to help, she said, is to stop buying at pet stores and go to shelters and animal-rescue facilities.

"Go to www.petfinder.com, they list all shelters," she said of a site where a quick look showed about three dozen south of Boston.

"About four million to five million animals a year are put down in shelters every year," she said. "There's no need for that; there are plenty of rescue animals out there for anyone who wants a pet."

For information on her group, including how to volunteer, visit www.caps-web.org.

YOUTHS JOIN NATIONAL CONFERENCE: Louis Petriella of Hull and Michael Coffey of Quincy, students at Boston College High School, along with seven other BC High students, joined more than 1,000 others at the 16th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., last month. The three-day event connects students and faculty from Jesuit institutions around the country to advocate for social-justice issues. This year's focus was on immigration reform.


The students met with Massachusetts legislators to discuss immigration policies that can split up families. They also advocated for fair wages, and access to food for low-income families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Daniel J. Galli of Marshfield was named president of the 900-member Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts. He previously served on the association's board of directors as community outreach director. He is principal of Daniel J. Galli & Associates in Norwell. . . . Braintree resident Kevin Berner was honored by fellow Easter Seals Massachusetts employees for his work with the organization, which provides services to people with disabilities. An occupational therapist in the assistive technology program, Berner was presented with the Employee Spirit Award for his creativity in working with clients. He is also an adjunct lecturer in the master's program in occupational therapy at Boston University. . . . Hingham resident Christopher P. Sullivan was elected vice president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Sullivan is a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ceresi LLP in Boston, focusing on financial, securities, and intellectual property cases. He is also cochairman of the association's membership committee. He has been named a New England "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyers magazine every year since 2004. . . . Magellan Jets, a private jet-charter company, has moved to 2 Heritage Drive in Quincy. Company officials said this is the second move for the company in three years, resulting from rising sales.


Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian@ aol.com.