Like a lot of animal lovers, I’ve been pissed off and dumbfounded the past two days over a feature story that aired on Fox Chicago on Friday…and the station’s poor journalist response to the backlash that ensued. In case you missed it, Fox Chicago aired a Valentine’s Day gift idea segment with self-proclaimed lifestyle specialists Karen Firsel on Friday. Her top gift idea was a “teacup teddy bear” from Pocket Puppies in Lincoln Park. She added a plug for the store and the great breeders (puppy mills) it uses for its puppies.
Pocket Puppies – which makes the bulk of its cash on puppy sales – sells teacups that range from morkies to yorkapoos to name a few for high dollars. The super small mutants arrive via truck from the commercial breeders in Missouri and elsewhere that crank out puppy mill dogs all year round. Unless you've lived under a rock, you know where pet store puppies come from - puppy mills. And you also realize that Teacups are mutants and many of the mixed breeds are just high priced mutts.
In less than three weeks, sales of these dogs will cease at Pocket Puppies and elsewhere in Chicago. On March 5th the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act – a bill that will ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in the city – becomes law. Pocket Puppies and others face big fines for continuing their current business model.
Here’s the deal.
When animal lovers called the producer to complain about the segment, she didn’t get what was wrong. She had no clue that the new law was about to go live in less than three weeks. And, accused concerned callers of going on a “witch hunt” on this particular issue. The social media backlash continued and the calls flooded Fox.
How did Fox News Chicago respond?
Did they investigate where Pocket Puppies gets their dogs?
Did they talk to City Clerk Susana Mendoza or interview Cari Meyers of The Puppy Mill Project?
What they did do was talk to Lane Boran the owner of Pocket Puppies and put this on their website with the story.
Well – so much for doing your homework and journalistic integrity. Boran testified last year at the city hearing prior to the passage of the new law. The attractive, articulate businessman gave very believable testimony about the puppies he sells. Believable until City Clerk Mendoza dropped a huge stack of papers on the table at the hearing and started to read of the USDA reports of the breeders that he used.
Believable until one of his customers testified about the puppy they purchased from Pocket Puppies that was very sick and died shortly after purchase. It’s all a matter of public record and it was reported on by Chicago media at the time. So, we’re back to the fluffy segment that has glossed over the mother’s left behind in the puppy mills.
And, we’re back to the lifestyle expert they put on the show. A search of her website shows that she is a former TV producer…but she didn’t do her homework here. But then again, her website does more than tout her as a lifestyle expert but media relations person…so…the bigger question is what is the real motive behind plugging Pocket Puppies in the segment to start.
My thoughts are as follows – call the media outlets around Chicago and ask them to do a story about puppy mills – the new ordinance – and the pet stores that will keep expanding once the puppy mill stores shut down. There’s Krisers and Bentley’s Corner Barkery and so many other stores in Chicago…stores that never used puppy mills to make a buck.
And, when it comes to picking a gift for Valentine’s Day or any other day…don’t give a living thing unless you know the person wants a pet, has the financial means to take care of that pet…and is capable of nurturing the pet for life.
And…keep your eyes on Chicago when the new day dawns and puppy mill sales become illegal.
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