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Pet Store To The Stars Using "Puppy Mills"

The Humane Society of the United States has just finished a three month investigation of a top Los Angeles pet store that caters to celebrities like Paris Hilton.

The findings are shocking and prove that the "puppy mill" industry is alive and well.

The Pets of Bel Air pet store in California boasts a high profile clientele and one would assume their dogs were born in the lap of luxury. But actually, many of them were warehoused and raised in horrid conditions.

"These are large scale commercial puppies, where the puppies are treated like commodities and essentially it's a large scale agricultural operation," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States told Early Showveterinary correspondent Dr. Debbye Turner

In puppy mills, animals are mass-bred and kept in horrible, inhumane conditions and careless breeding produces dogs that suffer from chronic illness.

Photos: Hollywood Pet Party
The Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation found Pets of Bel Air obtains their animals from 28 puppy mills throughout the Midwest, but a manager told a humane society investigator that the puppies did not come from puppy mills.

"There is fraud and misrepresentation of what's occurring," Pacelle said.

In a statement sent to The ShowBuzz, Pets Of Bel Air vehemently denied the allegations.

"We do not condone puppy mills; we would never knowingly buy a dog from a puppy mill; and we are appalled by the possibility that this may have happened," Pets of Bel Air said. "We are investigating all of our sources so that we continue to nurture the finest and most reputable dogs from the best breeders, a practice that we've held central to our business since we opened nine years ago."

The Humane Society's investigation prompted an inspection by Los Angeles Animal Services, which closed the shop Tuesday after discovering the store was operating without a permit. The store can reopen, however, by paying a $130 fine, according to CBS News affiliate KCAL9.

"The permit fee went inadvertently unpaid due to a clerical error," Pets Of Bel Air said. "Upon completion of an inspection by Animal Services, which is scheduled for Thursday, Pets of Bel Air will reopen."

Puppy mills are big business: two to four million puppies from 10,000 puppy mills are sold annually, which adds up to a heartbreaking bottom line for any animal lover.

In July, the Humane Society expressed concern after Britney Spears reportedly purchased a puppy at Pets Of Bel Air in a 30 minute visit to the store.

"The Humane Society of the United States is extremely concerned not only that the pop star purchased a dog from a pet store, but also that she apparently took very little time to make such a major decision," read a release by The Humane Society sent to The ShowBuzz at the time.

"Know that if you buy a dog from a pet store you are contributing to the most horrific kind of animal abuse," Humane Society volunteer Jana Kohl said.