You want luxury, or cheap dogs?
You want luxury, or cheap dogs?
Craig Malisow

The 99-Cent Dog Store

So you're a backyard breeder with a shitload of Chihuahas to unload, but The Man (i.e., the State of Texas and Harris County) passes a law that says you can't sell pets in a parking lot or on the roadside. What the hell are you going to do with the little yappers?

If you're lucky, you could ask the owners of a bombed-out convenience store if you can move in. They might tell you that the gutted structure has no air-­conditioning, and it's missing chunks of concrete in spots, but that stuff doesn't really matter — as long as you're in a building, you're golden.

Such is the story of Clara's Pet Shop — a story of a woman with a dream to let backyard breeders sell puppies come hell or high water. We got an e-mail last week from a woman who said she recently visited the place and saw that the puppies had no water and were only being cooled by one large industrial fan. So we thought it was worth a look.


fly-by-night pet stores

The Clara in question is Clara Negrete, who has a state business license to operate out of a former convenience store at 3517 Little York, which is listed on the Harris County Appraisal District Web site as being owned by Mark Haman and Ali Faraji.

When we called Haman to ask about the pet store, he hung up. Negrete has not returned calls. We haven't been able to touch base yet with Faraji. (A representative of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, i.e., "animal control," told us one does not need a special license to operate a pet store.)

When the Houston Press checked the place out over the weekend, the pups fortunately had water, and there were fans blowing on all the cages, but it was still extremely hot inside — the high temperature outside was 94 degrees.

Since we saw last weekend that the pups had water, and because we were told that, two weekends ago, there wasn't any water, we thought maybe the Houston SPCA might have paid them a visit. But when we called, all we were told was that an investigator has been out there in the past.

But, all in all, this is great news — if you have a bunch of animals to sell, just move 'em off the road and into a crackhouse. It's the law!

Getting His Acceptance Speech Ready

Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are the putative stars of I Love You Phillip Morris, but stealing the movie from them is Houstonian Steve McVicker.

If his scenes don't end up on the ­cutting-room floor, that is.

McVicker, a former reporter for the Houston Press and the Chronicle, wrote the book on which the movie is based; the book grew out of stories he wrote for the Press about a con man who kept escaping from Texas prisons.

McVicker got a chance to make his acting a judge, fully berobed and gavel-pounding. Which is sort of odd for someone who spent a lot of time skewering incompetent judges.

In a scene filmed in New Orleans, McVicker was told to sit behind the bench, take a look at the jury verdict and then hand it back to the bailiff so the jury foreman could read it.

"I was intentionally hanging onto it for five, six seconds just to get more face time," he says. "The director would say 'Cut' and tell me to do it faster, but I didn't."

(McVicker's verdict on Carrey, who shared the scene: "A real nice guy.")

The movie is scheduled to open Valentine's Day weekend next year. We'll see if Hollywood is a cruel mistress to our man.

Duff Man! Jailed!

We've heard back from Robert Piro, the divorce attorney for Hilary Duff's dad, and there is more to the dad's tale of woe than we first reported.

And it's pretty funny. Unless you're Hilary Duff's dad.

As we noted, the media all reported how a judge sentenced Bob Duff to ten days in jail for contempt of court, but — according to a Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesperson — Duff spent only a brief time in stir before being released.

It turns out he was in jail overnight — because a clerk at the appeals court sent the order freeing him to the wrong fax number at the jail.

We told Piro that the jail records indicated Duff had spent almost no time at the jail.

"That's the way it was supposed to be — the court of appeals that afternoon issued an order that would have released him; they sent it to the sheriff's office, but they sent it to the wrong fax number and the sheriff never got it," Piro says. "So there we are, seven o'clock at night and the courts are all closed and the sheriff hadn't received the order of release."

Duff "was sprung pretty quickly" the next morning after the mistake was rectified, Piro says.

Duff was kept away from the general population, in a solitary holding cell, because officers knew he wouldn't be there long, the attorney says.

So Hilary, it turns out you can write a my-dad's-in-the-slammer-and-my-dog-done-died tune after all.


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