As Chicago moves forward toward the ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores, it appears that Naperville is moving backwards. The community that is already the puppy mill outlet capital of America will soon have a "new and improved" pet store in the city. A brand spanking new Happiness is Pets is under construction in the Naperville Crossing development...moving from it's current location. Happiness is Pets will continue its goal of delivering more "quality pets" from "good breeders."
OK, the last part is not true.
Although Happiness is Pets will tell you they hand pick their dogs and that they come from the best of breeders, that line couldn't be furthest from the truth. First of all, "good breeders" never lose control of their own dogs by shipping them off to pet stores.
In fact, the dogs here are coming from puppy mills - many of them Amish puppy mills, the worst of the bunch.
As more communities connect the dots and draw the line between puppy mills and pet stores, why oh why would Naperville give the green light for one of it's current stores to set up a new store. Is this how a community often touted as America's most livable city wants to be known for? Is the economy that bad in Naperville that city officials need to put the stamp of approval on animal cruelty with the sale of more puppy mill dogs?
Naperville is already home to three pet stores that are tapped into the puppy mill pipeline - the current Happiness is Pets, Petland and Furry Babies. Petland got a lot of negative attention last year for trafficking sick, emaciated dogs in their store...dogs that disappeared from the sale floor after the spotlight shined on the dogs on the store. (See blog post.)
Both Furry Babies and Happiness is Pets are already the focus of consumer fraud lawsuits for misrepresenting where they get their dogs and cats. There have also been reports of sick pets sold at all three stores - Furry Babies, Happiness is Pets and Petland.
Does Naperville want more business as usual with businesses like that?
Can't residents speak up and let their voice be heard at city hall in Naperville?
Isn't this a perfect time for Naperville to get ahead of the curve and say - thank you for your years of business, but we need a more humane business model before we let you build out and open up a new store in our community?
Here's the deal. Pet advocates don't want to put Naperville's pet stores out of business. Quite the contrary. Pet lovers would love to see the three stores dealing in puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats to go humane...to switch to an adoption model with rescue dogs instead of continuing to sell puppies at the expense of the parent dogs left behind in puppy mills...breeding litter after litter. It's one thing to be the pet store capital of America and quite another to be the puppy mill outlet capital.
If Naperville's puppy mill palaces want to know what to do next, I suggest they spend the day at another pet store in town - Dog Patch Pet and Feed. Up until 2 1/2 years ago, Dog Patch also sold pets. Then, owner Greg Gordon dumped pet store sales and made the move to go humane. It's not been easy, but Dog Patch has been thriving and adopts out hundreds of dogs.
Furry Babies, Petland and Happiness is Pets could also dump puppy mill dogs for an all adoption model.
It won't be easy...and that in itself is part of the problem. Pet stores purchase puppies and kittens for $50 to a few hundred bucks a pop. They turn around and sell them for a huge mark up. The cute ones are front and center making it hard for consumers to turn them down.
These stores could go humane, but they will need a stronger business model to do so. The stores that work in rescue are not making money off adoptions. No, they barely break even on adoptions and work hard to find products and services that will work in their store. What they are working on is getting a customer for the pet's life for their other products and services in the store. It takes a lot of work. New customers will come and help build a better business, but it takes time and energy.
So, as Happiness is Pets moves ahead to move into its new home in Naperville, it's a good time to let city council members and county commissioners know what is really going on. It's time to get the word out about the cute puppies in the window and reminding consumers to look elsewhere for their new best friend.It's time for Naperville to make a stand against becoming the official puppy mill outlet capital of the world by changing how one of the largest sellers of puppy mill dogs in suburban Chicago does business in their community.
Speak up now, for the dogs that have no voice.
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