The private message landed on my Facebook fan page last week after a debate erupted over an old blog - Naperville: The puppy mill outlet capital of America. A new follower was upset that I’d taken aim at Happiness is Pets – known seller of puppy mill dogs. He private messaged me a note that included the following - How about get a real job and stop picking on companies.
Thank you for the laugh of the day.
If you follow my blog you may notice that I’ve posted a lot less lately - maybe once or twice a week instead of daily. I don’t need to get a real job because I started a new one in late March and have been working a lot and writing a lot at work. So, the blog has taken a back seat. Since June, I’ve been reposting many of my older blogs (such as this one) on social media to keep the blog out there and to share some of my favorite content with new followers.
When I have posted something new, I’ve been sticking a lot to what I know – the puppy mill debate and cat issues. One of my rants earlier this summer focused on the new Happiness Is Pets that was on the verge of opening in Naperville. In that blog post, I accused one of “America’s Most Livable Cities” of being the puppy mill capital of America based on the fact that two very large pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs have stores there.
Now, I’ve been accused of being lazy and not researching the issue enough. So, hey, I should just stop picking on companies. Right?
As long as those pet stores are continuing to keep puppy mills in business while they lie about the origin of their product, I will keep blogging and filling people in about that pet store/puppy mill connection. When these two stores that are lining the pockets of their owners with big bucks on the back of puppy mill dogs ‘fess up to where they get their puppies, I’ll stop picking on them.
That blog post put the spotlight on the new Happiness Is Pets and hit a nerve with a lot of Naperville residents who didn’t like being dubbed “puppy mill capital.” The pet store debate ended up on the city council floor in less than two weeks after the post went live. At that meeting, advocates and pet store owners each told very different tales about pet stores and the puppies that are sold there.
Pet stores continued their song and dance. Advocates pulled their own documentation outing the pet stores by connecting the dots between the pet stores and puppy mills.
The Naperville City Council took the matter under advisement and will reexamine the issue later this month when they have more research in hand.
In the time since then, Happiness is Pets has opened their new superstore at Naperville Crossing. And, the the family that owns Happiness is Pets and the two owners of the local Petland franchise have been in overdrive promoting their version of where their product comes from – responsible breeders…breeders that they know. Blah, blah, blah.
Here’s what you do need to know.
- Pet storeowners must post where they get their pets – Illinois has a pet store disclosure act that requires stores to post where they get their pets on or near the pet cages. They are required by law to do this, but don’t (Ag department inspectors look the other way). When the debate starts up again later this month, ask the pet storeowners - Why aren’t they posting this information? What are they hiding? When you do see it, Google the name of the breeder. What you find will prove an important point.
- Where pet stores get their pets is a matter of public records – You may need to do a little work here. But, pet stores get their dogs from USDA licensed commercial breeders. There is federal documentation about where the dogs come from and how many dogs are in that mill. If there are violations, that is also part of public record that may be searched in the APHIS database.
- Consumer fraud allegations – Lawsuits have been filed against Happiness Is Pets and Furry Babies accusing both chains of consumer fraud. In both lawsuits, there are reams of paperwork that document chapter and verse where dogs were obtained and what those puppy mills were like. Petland has faced accusations as well for having “sick dogs” on the sales floor.
- There are good breeders, but they don’t work with pet stores – Yes, there are good breeders and good breeders take control over the dogs they sell. They want to know where they are going and will ask a lot of questions before selling a puppy. It can be difficult to get a dog from a good breeder. One place they won’t sell their product is to pet stores.
Earlier this year, Chicago and Cook County both passed ordinances outlawing the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores. The ordinances require stores to now source dogs and cats from animal controls, shelters and rescues. In all, over 40 communities have passed similar legislation in North America. In each case, there was a lot of documentation that connected pet stores in those communities to puppy mills.
Since those two ordinances passed so quickly and overwhelmingly, the very large and super-duper funded Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has put their campaign on over drive. This group that is supposed to represent all kinds of folks in the pet industry is going to bat in a big way for puppy mills and the pet stores that sell their product.
By the way, two-thirds of pet stores do just fine without ever selling pets - they sell products and services instead. PIJAC has gone to war in support of two of their strongest directors - someone from the Hunte Corporation (the largest broker of puppy mill dogs) and someone from Petland (the largest seller of puppy mill dogs in America). Read more about PIJAC here and here.
I don’t know what Naperville will do later this month when they open up the pet store/puppy mill debate again. What I do know is that there is a pipeline straight from puppy mills to Naperville’s two pet stores that sell dogs – Happiness Is Pets and Petland. The evidence is there if you’re not blinded by the bright spotlight from the pet stores trying to hid the truth.
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