As Chicago gets closer to voting on the proposed Companion Animal Protection Ordinance will ban the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, it's time to take a look at the good pet store around the corner in your community. This particular ordinance is aimed at the bad stores - those selling puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats. They are making profits from animal cruelty and misleading their customers about their products. In Chicago, 16 stores fall into that category. (See story.)
What about the other pet stores - those that don't sell cats and dogs? If selling pets is so important to the bottom line, how do good pet stores stay in business? Do they go out of business for lack of revenue?
These questions have come up as Chicago moves toward voting to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats next Tuesday. In past blog posts, I've looked at Dog Patch in Naperville and Wilmette Pet - two stores that moved from selling puppies and kittens to humane models focusing on adoption. However, there are a lot of good pet stores around the corner and throughout our community that have never sold pets and always worked toward adopting out animals. Chicago is filled with many small boutique stores that have done very well without ever selling dogs or cats.
Nationally, PetSmart and PetCo both have thrived while not selling dogs and cats. They have adoption centers in their stores, host adoption events and have donated millions of dollars to pet rescue efforts and education programs around the country through PetSmart Charities and the PetCo Foundation.
Closer to home in Chicago, there's a chain of pet stores - Kriser's - that started as with one store and is now at 23 stores and growing. With 12 locations throughout our community, five each in Denver and Southern California and a new Houston Store, Kriser's has been able to do a lot of good while growing their business.
Store founder Brad Kriser started by selling natural pet food and products in his doggy day care facility - The Barking Lot. When he saw the huge potential eight years ago, he opened his first store and his company has been growing ever since without selling a single dog or cat. If you're concerned that a store will go under when they don't sell pets...just look at this example.
Kriser's has not only thrived and grown, they've provided a great model to help out rescues and shelters. Here's a look at some of the programs beyond adoption days that Kriser's does in their communities through their Kriser's Kares initiative.
- Christmas in July - Kriser's holds a contest each July in which voters in the three communities where they are located - Chicago, Denver and Southern California - my vote on their favorite rescue. The top three vote getters in each communitie receives free food and other supplies. The grand prize in each community is $20,000 worth of produces - which is huge for all of the groups involved.
- Charitable partnerships - At some grand store openings, Kriser's will donate a pound of food for each pound sold to partnering charities.
- Rescue donations - Full-time employees are eligible for quarterly bonuses. An option is that they may use the funds for a tax-exempt donation to a rescue organization or animal shelter of their choice.
- Rescue volunteering - Employees who have been with the company at least five years may take a two week paid sabbatical to work at a rescue organization or animal shelter of their choice.
Of course there are the many adoption events and the Kriser's Kares program offers discounts for new pet parents, weekly community events, holiday giving programs (such as Operation Blankets of Love and Poo Fairies). There are many smaller pet stores - one store or a chain of two or three - that are thriving without selling kittens or puppies and also reach out and help their communities as well. Yes, there are good pet stores around the corner in many places.
When the city council committee takes testimony on the measure, there will be testimony from people that want business to go on as usual. The best example will be the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council or PIJAC, an organization that lobbies and does battle on behalf of certain factions of the pet industry. They claim that prohibiting pet sales will hurt business and hinder choice. But examples like this show that it will not.
What Chicago's ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs will do is prevent the 16 stores that currently bank on animal cruelty by selling puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats from continuing to make a fast buck off animal abuse. If you'd like to take a look at PIJAC's propaganda and reality - check out this link. And, hopefully a week from today we'll be saying good bye to puppy mill dogs in pet stores and hello to more humane pet stores in our city.
If you live in Chicago, please sign the petition in support of the ordinance or write to your alderman in support of the ordinance explaining why the measure is so important to Chicago and animal welfare. You may also email your support to info@thepuppymillproject and Patrick.corcoran@
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