Standing Up for Peaceful Puppy Mill Protesters

January 14, 2014

Pam Sordyl leads “Puppy Mill Awareness,” a group of concerned citizens who peacefully demonstrate on public property near pet stores to educate the public about the mistreatment of dogs in the commercial breeding industry. Puppy Mill Awareness believes that the only way to end this form of animal cruelty is to end the sale of commercially bred puppies in local pet stores.

In September 2013, a pet store owner in Macomb County tried to take out a personal protection order against Ms. Sordyl the week before she planned a peaceful protest on public property, alleging that the protest would interfere with her business. The ACLU of Michigan successfully represented Ms. Sordyl to ensure that the judicial process would not be abused to squelch peaceful free speech.

Pam and her group found themselves the target of legal action once again in January 2014, this time in a defamation lawsuit brought by a pet store in Oakland County called Woof Woof Puppies. Such lawsuits have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and are known as “SLAPP Suits”—strategic lawsuits against public participation. The ACLU has a tradition of defending groups and individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened by baseless defamation lawsuits, and we represented Puppy Mill Awareness and its members in this case.

In October 2014, the Oakland County Circuit Court dismissed the majority of the pet store’s claims, and in January 2015 the pet store opted to drop its lawsuit.

(Meyers v. Sordyl and Woof Woof Puppies & Boutique v. Sordyl; ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin; Cooperating Attorneys Jill Schinske and Susan Kornfield, Jonathan Young, Jim Carty and Jim Walsh of Bodman.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.