Westport Coalition Against Puppy Mills (WCAPM) advocates for dogs like Zoey.
WCAPM recently put up a billboard on the side of a bus stop shelter located in Westport, CT which simply read, “Pet $tore Puppies are Puppy Mill Puppies. Recover your vet bills under Connecticut’s Lemon Law.”
ZoeyStory has learned that billboard was recently ordered taken down by the Norwalk Transit District, which claims that the advertising was not in “keeping with community standards and must be removed as soon as possible.” Unfortunately, WCAPM never had the opportunity to advocate for its side of the story or allowed to remove the sign itself; another party took it down without WCAPM’s knowledge. (UPDATE: Sign was pulled by Signal Outdoor Advertising)
ZoeyStory decided to learn more about the regulations for advertising on a bus shelter in the Norwalk Transit District. We couldn’t find any regulations regarding advertising on bus shelters on that organization’s website; if anyone else can, please forward them on to us. The only mention of advertising regulations in the county that we could find was in the Norwalk Transit Commissioner’s Meeting Minutes from 7/15/2010 which simply stated, “The Commissioners discussed preliminary wording to be used to limit the subject matter of advertising on the outside of the Coastal Link buses.”
We couldn’t find any mention that the “preliminary” regulations mentioned above have been made permanent, nor where they might be made available for public review. In the news story we’ve linked, Transit District Administrator Louis Schulman indicated that new regulations passed in the Fall of 2010 prohibit the “advertising of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, as well as political ads, false, misleading or deceptive ads, material that is defamatory, scornful of a particular individual or group of individuals, obscene or pornographic material, or advocacy of unlawful or violent actions. This advertisement, I think it falls under political, editorial or election.”
With all due respect to this public official, we completely disagree that this sign somehow offended community standards or can be classified as political or editorial material.
It has been demonstrated repeatedly and across the country that Pet Store puppies ARE indeed Puppy Mill Puppies (look at Zoey). The language used in the ad is not offensive nor misleading but simply informational. It points out a truth and advises Connecticut citizens as to one of their legal rights on possible recovery of their vet bills under Connecticut’s Puppy Lemon Law.
We fear that the Norwalk Transit Authority may be receiving pressure from area pet stores and are fairly sure that the owner of Puppies of Westport, which is located across the street from the billboard in question agitated with the local transit authority to get the sign taken down.
You can read about the details in the local paper here.
You can make clear your support of WCAPM’s First Amendment rights by sending letters to the editor of the Norwalk Hour to email@example.com.