When The Puppy Mill Project holds their Mothers in the Mills benefit Mother’s Day weekend, they will have a lot to celebrate. The past year has been a game changer for the organization after several years of operating behind the scenes as the group has worked to get the word out about puppy mills and change the laws regulating the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.
“We’ve been working for a couple of years behind the scene, hoping to make it more difficult for consumers to purchase pets in local pet stores,” says Cari Meyers, founder and president of the organization. “In my wildest dreams, I could not have predicted that we’d outlaw the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits in both Chicago and Cook County in less than a month.”
In February, Chicago’s City Council approved the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act that outlaws the sale of puppy mill dogs, cats and rabbits in Chicago’s 16 pet stores (see story). In March, Cook County followed suit with a law aimed at the 13 stores throughout the county (see story). City Clerk Susana Mendoza and County Commissioner John Fritchey spearheaded the efforts.
The measures are aimed at shutting down the pipeline between puppy mills, kitten mills and rabbit mills to pet stores. Along with ending the consumer fraud connected with pet store sales and the cruelty of dogs bred in puppy mills, the measure is aimed at saving lives of abandoned pets in local shelters and rescues as well.
The efforts have capped the end of a productive year for the The Puppy Mill Project.
- Furry Babies Lawsuit – A consumer fraud lawsuit was filed against the suburban pet store chain Furry Babies last summer. The suit claims the pet store employees defrauded consumers by claiming they came from reputable breeders instead of puppy mills and accuses the chain of selling sick puppies. The Puppy Mill Project had gathered evidence for over two years, laying the groundwork for the suit.
- Petland investigation – A suburban woman took photos of emaciated dogs at a Naperville Petland in July. The photos were passed to The Puppy Mill Project. They launch an investigation and publicized the situation putting it in the spotlight (see post).
- Millie’s Mission – The Puppy Mill Project has launched a campaign to raise funds to help defray the medical costs of rescues that save puppy mill dogs. Millie’s Mission was named after Meyers' dog Millie who was rescued from a puppy mill by the National Mill Dog Rescue and adopted by Meyers.
- Closed Amish Puppy Mill – During an investigation into a local pet store, The Puppy Mill Project found a disturbing USDA report tied to an Amish puppy miller who had killed dogs by hitting them with a lead pipe. When the USDA failed to act on the situation, the group sent a letter to the area’s states attorney who closed the mill and charged Amos Diener with a felony. The group also facilitated rescue for some of the dogs left in the mill.
- Southern Illinois puppy mill rescue – This happened right before last year’s gala. The Puppy Mill Project facilitated the rescue of 93 dogs from a puppy mill rescue in Southern Illinois. They worked with several rescues to remove and start the rehoming process for the dogs.
The Mothers in the Mills benefit is held each year to honor the mother dogs left behind in puppy mills breeding endless litters of puppies in inhumane conditions. This year, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, County Commissioner John Fritchey and Bernie Berlin of a Place to Bark will be honored with the Kindness to Animals Award. Mendoza was instrumental in the passage of Chicago’s pet store ordinance and Fritchey in the Passage of the Cook County ordinance. Berlin rescues dogs from rural Tennessee shelters and transports them to humane societies and Dog Patch Pet and Feed, a humane pet store in Naperville.
The Puppy Mill Project will also be honoring its first "Kids for Kanines" award winner - Jane Clarke. She is a fifth grade student that raised over $500 to help dogs rescued as part of Millie's Mission. The funds paid for the care and vetting of two dogs rescued from puppy mills.
The Mothers in the Mills benefit will be held on May 10 at John Barleycorn’s at 149 West Kinzie in River North starting at 6:30. ABC 7s Janet Davies will emcee the event. Tickets are $100 in advance and $125 at the event. Get more details online and purchase tickets online.
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