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My Response to BlogPaws

September 16, 2011 24 comments

As some of you may know, my post on Thursday created a bit of a firestorm. I never intended to do anything but express my emotions at once again seeing someone I believed to be less than forthcoming about his background, Michael Ayalon, promoted at an event that I understood to be about pet bloggers, animals, animal welfare and animal lovers. Did I think that BlogPaws would see it? Yes. I fully expected they would. Did I feel like I had attacked them? Quite the contrary. I simply wanted to bring their attention to someone I felt they may have invited as a speaker without knowing his background and history.

Unfortunately, my intentions were clearly misunderstood as you can see by BlogPaws response here. So, I will respond to the charges they have made against me, fully knowing that they will likely go unanswered, or will be responded to with negativity and more assertions that I cannot address ad nauseam.

The Assertions and My Responses

What BlogPaws asserts: “…the assertion that a speaker at BlogPaws supports puppy mills.”
My Response: You can read my post verbatim, but I will say that at no time did I think, nor imply, BlogPaws supports puppy mills. In fact, it never even occurred to me that they would. They have done lots of great things for animals and the animal welfare community. It actually made me very sad when I read this because it seemed so out of alignment with what I thought and believed about BlogPaws.

What BlogPaws asserts: “…we don’t discriminate against breeders”
My Response: Nor did I expect BlogPaws to do so. Breeders and puppy mills are two different things in my book. That may be a matter of definition to some people, but in my opinion responsible breeders are not, nor should they be, compared with puppy mills.

What BlogPaws asserts: “She (and some of her commenters) repeatedly asserted that we “knew” Michael Ayalon designed websites for puppy mills.”
My Response: Funny. I never implied that. In fact, I only stated that I had informed “one of organizers” of Michael Ayalon last year. I didn’t know if the other founders knew about him or what I had shared with Caroline Golon (who BlogPaws named directly in their post). Nor did I use her name anywhere. Why? Because I didn’t want her to get hate mail. Funny how that worked out.

What BlogPaws asserts: “She asserts that Caroline did nothing then, and welcomed this ‘puppy mill supporter’ with open arms to our conference … for the $$$.”
My Response: Actually, I never said that she welcomed “this ‘puppy mill supporter” with open arms to BlogPaws”. What I did say, in response to another blogger who had said “as if the ends justify the means”, was that “I guess the ends do justify the means = $$$” What I was referring to was that sometimes money takes precedence over other things. It was not a statement that I thought they paid Mr. Ayalon for speaking at BlogPaws, as BlogPaws asserts I did, but rather that sometimes business decisions are made that are not necessarily in keeping with the overall good of society or in this case, animal welfare.

What BlogPaws asserts: “The first site, PuppyPetite.com, does offer puppies for sale and contains lots of pictures of cute, healthy looking puppies. But there is nothing on any of those pages that indicates a “puppy mill” operation, as far as we can see. PuppyPetite.com specifically states that they will not ship their puppies and you must pick them up in person.”
My Response: As anyone who has worked in animal welfare knows, the internet has become a prime breeding ground for puppy mills to sell their puppies. Why? Because they are not subject to inspection by the USDA. If you sell a puppy or kitty directly to someone, either through the internet or via the newspaper, you do not fall under the purview of the USDA and can operate as you wish without fear of being inspected or shut down. Congress has a bill before them this year to address this very issue called the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act (H.R.835/S.707). I wrote about here.

What BlogPaws asserts: “Mel rips into Michael for “duping” the (apparently gullible, in her mind) folks at the ASPCA and Petside for recognizing the good work he does…”
My Response: Actually, I don’t think I ripped into the ASPCA or Petside. Nor did I say they were “duped” I merely stated that I thought they had been unaware of him and that I was disappointed that he had been recognized by them as a “hero” and as one of the “Top 25 Pet People”. And, as an aside, I did write each of them to let them know that I thought they had perhaps recognized the wrong person.

What BlogPaws asserts: “I’m not sure about the press release description of ASPCA’s Animal Heroes recognition as an “award,” but as of a few minutes ago, the recognition post is still live on the ASPCA Facebook notes page.”
My Response: Yup. They still have him listed on their FB page, but they also used to have him listed on their website too. It’s not there anymore. As far as the sarcastic commentary about me calling it an “award” vs. just the hero of the week, I refer you to Michael’s own PR postings here, here and here. And lest you think some of these are news articles someone else submitted, I give you the description of the first website I linked to above, PRWeb, and what they do – “It’s simple. You write an announcement about your organization – a new product launch, current promotion, or local team sponsorship – whatever. We distribute your release to every major news site and search engine on the Web, and can put you in front of consumers and journalists.”

What BlogPaws asserts: “Mel shares some links that purport to prove her point. Here, here, and here (WARNING: turn your speakers off before you click to avoid the annoying music). Those last two links go to Kingdom Pups, a site Michael says he has never heard of or worked with. There’s nothing that we can see to show that he has.”
My Response: BlogPaws is actually right on this one – partially. I actually grabbed the wrong links for the last two links of my post. They were supposed to be for Worldwidepups.com and I have corrected that mistake. Regarding, PuppyPetite.com, or should I say ThePuppyBoutique.com, you can compare their addresses here and here. I’ve posted some stuff about them below.

To address some of what BlogPaws implies as “irresponsible blogging”, I provide for you the screenshots I took back in July 2010, when I was researching my original post on Michael Ayalon. If you have read my previous post on Mr Ayalon, you know that I have already expressed a belief that he creates websites for puppy mills, or at the very least, pet stores selling puppy mill puppies. What I lay out below is evidence of Michael using an online alias, Ron Ayalon. You will also see links to Michael through the name Ron Ayalon (or as Michael himself) to online pet stores and websites selling puppies. Two of them I have mentioned in the past, Worldwidepuppies.com and PuppyPetite.com. Both have numerous complaints against them for sick puppies and for offering large amounts of puppies, for sale. This is often common with pet stores who sell puppy mill puppies. Michael/Ron often linked back to these sites and many others at the bottom of his online articles, either as Ron Ayalon or Michael Ayalon. He also created numerous website pages with no real valuable information on them except for the links he provided back to these same pet stores and online websites, both selling puppies. I have chosen to limit the number of screen shots, although I could provide much more, to make it easier for all to read and review. I apologize up front for less than sophisticated presentation style, but when I wrote my original post I was an unsophisticated blogger with a new computer and not a whole lot of knowledge on how to collect a whole page on a website. I have laid them out in an order I hope makes sense. I leave the decision up to you, the reader, to decide if I am wrong about Mr. Ayalon.

To BlogPaws I say I am sorry that you felt that I was attacking you. As I stated above, I was writing in frustration that someone I felt was less than forthcoming on his history would be a speaker at BlogPaws NOT that BlogPaws was somehow involved in anything nefarious. To say I am disappointed in your response is an understatement. I feel let down and that somehow you brought a war into our community that was neither warranted nor wanted, and that is truly a shame.

Examples 1A-1C: An article by Ron Ayalon (a.k.a Michael Ayalon) titled “Discover the Simplest Ways to Sell Your Puppies and Kitties” Note: PuppyWebsite.com (seen below) is another one of Mr. Ayalon’s websites. One that seems to be more geared towards those pet stores and puppy mills. It contains some of the same testimonials that are on his other website, PetWebDesigner.com

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Examples 2A-2D: An online article by Ron Ayalon (a.k.a. Michael Ayalon) titled “Looking for a Cost Effective and Highly Affordable Pet Web Designer?” You may want to read this one to get a sense of who Mr Ayalon was marketing to in this piece. You’ll see Ron Ayalon’s name on the last slide.
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Example 3: Ron Ayalon (a.k.a. Michael Ayalon) with his website listed as PetWebDesigner.com. Demonstrating that Ron Ayalon and Michael Ayalon are one in the same person.
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Examples 4A-4C: A Ron Ayalon blog post on the blog thelovelypawstalks.blogspot.com (no longer in existence) titled “The Elderly Dog: Care and Maintenance” that identifies him as the web designer of Worldwidepups.com. This links not only Ron Ayalon to the worldwidepups.com website, but as the examples above demonstrate, Michael Ayalon to Worldwidepups.com. This business has been fined by the state of NY in the past for selling sick puppies to people. They also offer more puppy breeds than I could even believe. Where do all these puppies come from? My guess is puppy mills.
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Examples 5A-5D: An article written by Ron Ayalon with a reference to his name, Michael Ayalon, as the owner of Petwebdesigner.com. The first and last slides are most important because they once again link Ron Ayalon to Michael Ayalon. Ron appears to be the author on many of the posts that feature online pet stores at the bottom – all websites he created. Why the need to use different names? You will see Ron Ayalon listed as the author at the top, but Michael Ayalon listed at the bottom.
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Examples 6A-6D: An article by Michael Ayalon titled “Valentine’s Day for Pets” with Worldwidepups.com referenced at the end. We already know that Ron Ayalon is Michael Ayalon and that Ron Ayalon is linked to Worldwidepups.com (he created their website for them), which advertises and sells a lot of puppies. More than can come from any one breeder. You can check out their site here.
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Example 7: A report on Petshoppuppies.com (now called Petshoppuppies.org) featuring a news story about Worldwidepups.com, titled “Pet Store Must Repay for Selling Expensive, Sick Puppies” written by Jennifer Barrios from Newsday.com. You can also see some of their customer complaints here. It is well-known that most pet store puppies come from puppy mills. One of the tell-tale signs is a pet store selling sick puppies. Puppy mills rarely vaccinate or de-worm their dogs. It takes too much away from their profit margins.
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Examples 8A-8D: A Petland website created by Michael Ayalon as the PetwebDesigner.com – you can see his name at the bottom of the page (Note: Michael used to list a couple of Petlands that he had created websites for on his home page, but they no longer appear there. Petland is well-known for selling puppy mill puppies and was even investigated by HSUS regarding this matter.)
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Examples 9A-9E: Lastly, puppypetite.com or puppyboutique.com, both created by the Pet Web Designer. Both with the same address. Both selling puppies. I leave you with customer complaints and assertions that these dogs came from puppy mills to explore on your own. You can read them here, here, and here (this last one is quite interesting).
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I leave you with two final things to review:
1. Facts about puppy mills taken from the website MadonnaoftheMills.com, a movie about a woman who rescues used up puppy mill breeding bitches before they are shot because they can’t breed anymore (My Daisy was close to being one of those dogs. She came from a puppy mill.)
2. While I was writing and editing this post, Mr Ayalon was editing some of the articles that I had captured in my screen shots. You can see the dates and times these were edited in the shot attached below as well as the time on my computer screen in the upper right-hand corner. It may be nothing. I’ll let you decide. By the way, Saturday is National Puppy Mill Awareness Day. It’s designed to bring awareness to puppy mills. I think I’ve done my part today. Don’t you?
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UPDATE:
Thank you to my friend Amanda for this additional information about PPF Farms, one of Michael’s clients at least according to his website, PetWebDesigner.com. You can see PPF Farms listed in this petition on the Care2 Petitionsite. The name of the petition is “Justice for Dogs Sold during the Buckeye Dog Auction”. Under “LIST OF BREEDERS AT THE 8/26 AUCTION:” you will find PPF Farms listed. You an see more about dog auctions in this I-Team Investigation: Inside the multi-million dollar business of dog auctions.

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My additional thanks to CarolQ for explaining what Michael is really doing is link farming not designing websites. I had never heard of the term before, but now that I do I am even more sad to think he was using this method to help these online puppy mills and pet stores to increase their traffic and thus sell more puppies.

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Dogs: Playing on Both Sides of the Fence

July 4, 2010 17 comments

Dogs love nothing better than to have new territory to explore. Playing on both sides of the fence can be exciting: new places to explore, new friends to meet, new smells to sniff, etc.

But when it involves doing business, does playing on both sides of the fence matter? For instance, is it okay to promote rescue organizations while at the same time doing business with those people who contribute to pet over-population? Is it okay to do so if you are helping rescue organizations in the long run?

Those are the questions I am faced with today.

Recently, while working on some research for a friend, I discovered that someone I respected, and even promoted, was playing on both sides of the fence.

The Pet Web Designer, Michael Ayalon, has been active in the Twitter community, especially with pet-related Twitter folks. According to the ASPCA, he has actively helped “to broaden the reach of shelters beyond their local communities and allow potential adopters to see available pets through a live video website..” called AnimalRoulette.com. The site allows potential adopters to see a pet and his/her personality via live webcam thus helping adopters to determine if the pet would make a good addition to their family. Definitely a good deed.

But, as a fellow Twitterer, I guess I didn’t realize that the Pet Web Designer was also playing on the other side of the fence and helping breeders “to generate 300 new qualified puppy buyers per day” as stated in one of the testimonials featured on his website. Or that he had helped a breeder in the business for 12 years to “sell more puppies than we ever thought we could…” or to help another breeder (from the well-known puppy mill state of Pennsylvania) to sell “… more puppies than I thought was possible. Every day brings hundreds of customers looking for my breeds to my pet website.”

And, does it constitute playing both sides of the fence if you publish articles under different names (Ron Ayalon,/Michael Ron, Ron Ayalon)?

Certainly not illegal. Writers do it all the time.

But, what if many of your articles link back to places like this?

I want to be fair here and state that he has also helped some of my fellow pet sitters, a doggy daycare, a pet apparel store, an environmentally responsible lawn care service, and as I mentioned above, rescue organizations. He has also published some good articles on working with and caring for your dog/cat.

I am not naive, I realize that businesses play on both sides of the fence all of the time. The question is… does it matter if a business plays on both sides of the fence and is up front and honest about it? After all, the testimonials are there for all to see. Nothing is hidden from those who wish to find it.

What do you think? Is playing both sides of the fence ok?

P.S. I should mentioned that soon after I started writing this piece, Michael (or should I say Ron?) Ayalon, changed all the links at the bottom of his ezines articles to this. Luckily, I had already copied and pasted the ones I mentioned from knol.

Update: Since my original post Michael has decided to include the websites he has created as well as the domain names he owns on the Home Page of his website (scroll down). I think this is a step in the right direction. What he has also done is change all of his online articles by removing the links to this and this. Perhaps this is an altruistic decision, but only time will tell.

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