Naperville pet store debate heats up

Naperville pet store debate heats up
The Naperville pet store debate is about to heat up with protests planned and the council set to debate the issue.

The sidewalks will be a bit crowded outside one Naperville store this Sunday. No, there’s not a sidewalk sale. Pet lovers will be coming out en mass on Sunday to the Happiness is Pets at Naperville Crossing to make sure the word is getting out about that Naperville pet store and its connection to puppy mills.

Yes, it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting in Naperville.

After a fiery June cooled off into a quiet summer, the whole pet store/puppy mill debate is about to move back into the spotlight as the summer comes to a close. This will be the first large-scale protest  at the Naperville pet store since it opened at the new location. And, it comes as that pet store’s owners and animal advocates gear up to address the city council again in September.

Protest information

The Puppy Mill Project will start protesting outside the Happiness Is Pets at Naperville Crossing from noon until 2 p.m. on Sunday. Over 50 people are expected to hold a peaceful protest aimed at shedding light on the connection between Happiness is Pets and the puppy mills that generate pets for the store. An earlier protest held by The Puppy Mill Project prior to the store’s opening drew over 65 people.

The new Happiness is Pets store in Naperville Crossing.

The new Happiness is Pets store in Naperville Crossing.

Naperville Crossing is located on Route 59 just North of 95th and by the Showplace Theatre and South of 75th. If you’re headed out to the protest, avoid Route 59 North of Aurora Avenue (New York Street) due to construction.

There is a parking lot north of Biaggi’s (the old Mimi’s) that is vacant. Other parking is in the back and to the north and south of Happiness is Pets.

The goal of the protest is to be peaceful, positive and educational. Protesters will stand on the sidewalk in that area and not yell at drivers or wave signs at them. Protesters are also asked to not harass anyone going into Happiness is Pets. More details are online here.

The back story

From the beginning, animal advocates thought the move to a new bigger store by Happiness is Pets was very ballsy. After all, the new ordinances in Cook County and Chicago and a proposed ordinance in Illinois had put the pet store debate in full public view in our metropolitan area. More folks now understand what a puppy mill is and where their puppies end up.

All of these cages are now filled with puppies at Happiness is Pets in Naperville.

All of these cages are now filled with puppies at Happiness is Pets in Naperville.

The new Happiness is Pets store almost slipped in and opened under the radar and without any debate.

Almost.

When an animal advocate noticed the sign on the building for the new Happiness is Pets, he started posting photos on Facebook, the proverbial puppy was out of the cage. That post promoted my post about Naperville (Naperville: The puppy mill outlet capital of America), sparking a public debate at Naperville's City Council. A protest outside the Happiness is Pets prior to the store opening drew over 65 people.

At that council meeting, The Puppy Mill Project and other animal advocates gave testimony about the origin of pet store puppies and kittens. The owners of Happiness is Pets and Petland, the other Naperville pet store that sells commercially bred dogs and cats, continued to gloss over the origin of the pets they sell in their store. Pet store owners that have shops that don't sell pets testified that businesses can succeed without selling puppy mill dogs.

Puppies in pet stores come from large commercial breeding facilities - puppy mills.

Puppies in pet stores come from large commercial breeding facilities - puppy mills.

The council tabled the matter until this week to give Naperville's animal control time to research the topic. That discussion has been postponed until September 2nd. In the time since then, Happiness is Pets has opened its doors and the owner of that store and Petland have continued to do a full court press supporting their position. (Questions for the pet store debate)

What’s next?

When the council revisits the issue, they are expected to look at reams of documentation presented on both sides of the issue. It will be interesting to see if Naperville follows the lead of Chicago,  Cook County and over 50 other North American municipalities by outlawing the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores.

The two stores that continue to sell dogs and cats from puppy mills and kitten mills – Happiness is Pets and Petland – expect to pull out all the stops to protect their livelihood. They will also be backed by some of the largest lobbying groups in the pet industry (read post) that claim pet stores must sell dogs and cats to stay in business. Research from the pet retail industry shows that most pet stores – over two-thirds – do not sell cats and dogs and promote adoption instead.

Ernie is one of the hundreds of rescue dogs that went from death row to Dog Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville. Since going humane, the store has adopted out hundreds of dogs and cats of all ages.

Ernie is one of the hundreds of rescue dogs that went from death row to Dog Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville. Since going humane, the store has adopted out hundreds of dogs and cats of all ages.

Naperville's oldest pet store, Dog Patch Pet and Feed, stopped selling pets several years ago and moved to an adoption model (see blog post). The store has seen a surge in business and found homes for hundreds of dogs and cats since they went humane. Just this week, Dog Patch's owners announced that they are purchasing the building that houses their store and that they have big plans to continue expanding adoption programs.

If you'd like to read more background on the Naperville pet store debate, check out the following posts.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats & Dogs.

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