It will continue to be business as usual for Naperville pet stores, at least for the time being. The Naperville City Council has decided to wait and see the outcome on a Cook County lawsuit before moving ahead with any new laws that could prohibit or restrict the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in the city’s pet stores.
Chicago and Cook County passed ordinances earlier this year prohibiting the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats in pet stores. Cook County’s law was to go into effect last week. However, that ordinance is now on hold while a federal judge mulls over a lawsuit filed by three pet stores in the county and the Missouri Dog Breeders Association. The Cook County ordinance will affect 13 stores when it becomes law.
As frustrating as it is that Happiness is Pets and Petland will continue to do business as usual, Naperville has still come leaps and bounds in a matter of months. In fact, just over four months ago, the pet store puppy mill connection wasn’t even on the radar for the city council or much of a topic for debate within Naperville.
Then, Happiness is Pets – one of two pet stores still selling puppy mill dogs in Naperville – decided to go big or go home by moving its operation to a bigger store in a higher traffic location (see Naperville Puppy Mill Outlet Capital). I still deeply feel that Naperville is ground zero in the local fight against puppy mill outlets. As long as Petland and Happiness is Pets are allowed to sell dogs and cats obtained from puppy and kitten mills, the community will still be the puppy mill outlet capital of America.
Naperville is a community where one store has made the successful transition to a humane model. Dog Patch Pet and Feed has been adopting out pets for three years after owner Greg Gordon decided to move to an adoption model. Greg has had fits and starts as he’s tried to do something different. Each time we talk, he admits it’s a work in progress. He also admits that he’s not in business to turn a profit of the sale of pets – that is what the products in his store are for – they drive business and make the rescue operation possible.
Walk into Happiness is Pets or Petland and look at what is being sold. There may be a few leashes, bags of food and other ancillary items…but the number one product is and will continue to be puppies – puppies obtained from puppy mills where breeding parents are kept under inhumane conditions while they breed for life.
If Naperville follows the lead of over 60 other North American communities and bans the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats in its pet stores, those two stores will need to change how they do business. They may actually need to go into the pet store business and sell products instead of living pets…a model that is used by over two-thirds of the pet stores in America.
Two Bostons, Go Dog Go and other local mom and pop pet stores run successful businesses and don’t sell dogs and cats. They are always tinkering with their business models – like other small businesses – to stay successful. And, they thrive without buying into the lie that pet stores need to sell dogs and cats to stay afloat.
While the Cook County lawsuit is mulled, many local governments will continue to hold off on the development of laws that will outlaw the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy and waiting for the courts to figure it out will let puppy mills and pet stores continue to turn a big profit off the backs of puppy mill dogs.
Support the fight against puppy mills
The Puppy Mill Project will hold their annual Miles for Mothers in the Mills on Sunday, October 19th at the Naperville Riverwalk West Pavilion. The walk starts at noon and tickets are just $30. It's a dog-friendly event that will feature a costume contest, rescues and local pet businesses. Register and learn more here.
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