A Chicago-area pet store chain must now be a tad more honest about where they get their puppies thanks to a settlement reached in a federal lawsuit last week. Under the settlement, Furry Babies must verify the source of each pet they sell which will take some of the secrecy out of the puppy pipeline they are currently using and make it easier for consumers to find out just who these "outstanding breeders" are that supposedly let Furry Babies sell their puppies.
This settlement is HUGE...HUGE...for the puppies sold in stores, the consumers that purchase them and the animal advocates who have been fighting the cover up kings on consumer fraud.
The lawsuit that was filed a few years back by the Animal Legal Defense Fund but the hard work behind the scenes had been underway for a long, long time. Thanks to a group of women from The Puppy Mill Project the organization had a long list of people that had purchased sick dogs from the franchise. The dedicated group of volunteers also dug through the muck and cloak and dagger tactics of the pet store that was going to great lengths to hide where the puppies were coming from.
It's been a long road.
I first started getting the low down on what was happening at this one particular pet store when I met Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project, over 5 1/2 years ago. At the time, Cari and a dedicated group of volunteers had been digging through USDA records that tracked where the dogs were coming from and talking to a list of people that had purchased sick dogs or dogs that died shortly after purchase.
Their goal was to do more than shine a bright light on what was happening at Furry Babies. They wanted to hold the chain and its owners accountable for consumer fraud and to fight for the mother dogs in the puppy mills that were producing puppies for profit for pet stores around the country.
Here's how it often works.
Stores sometimes go directly to puppy mills to get their dogs but often work through puppy brokers to get their product. They'll place an order for their Maltipoos and Doodles and other mass produced dogs and purchase them for a few hundred bucks from the brokers who deliver them to shops around the country. Once in the store, the dogs are peddled to consumers at a premium price under the false pretenses that they come from great breeders.
Although states like Illinois require pet stores to post the origin of the pets the sell on or near the cage, most stores don't make it easy to get this information. Few consumers see the information until after they fall in love and purchase a dog and often the truth behind the paperwork is very hard to track since brokers are listed and not the breeders.
Thanks to this settlement, that will change. Furry Babies must now connect the dots for consumers and make it easier for consumers to find the truth behind the puppies in the windows. This is outstanding news.
I hope the settlement is constructed in a way that Furry Babies will truly be held accountable and that they will be monitored, fined and forced to follow through. I have a gut feeling that the women who did all the sleuthing and work to start will keep an eagle eye on Furry Babies and we'll be learning so much more about the puppies in the window at Furry Babies.
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