Does Arlington Heights love puppy mills?
We’ll find out soon enough. Earlier this week, the Arlington Heights Village Board voted to opt out of Cook County’s Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act – a bill aimed at banning the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats at pet stores.
Calling the bill “overbroad” the community wants to work on it’s own legislation that they say will better protect the puppies sold in pet stores. While part of me is thinking – let’s wait and see if they come up with a tougher ordinance. My gut tells me that they’ll bow to the pressure of one local business and create a watered down version of the ordinance.
Why do I feel that way?
There had been no discussion of the ordinance in that community last year until shortly before the Cook County Ordinance was to become law. Then, Ron Berning, owner of the Happiness is Pets (the only Arlington Heights pet store dealing in puppy mill dogs), approached the board to opt out of the Ordinance – something they could do as a home rule community.
The board opened a discussion last fall shortly before the ordinance was delayed due to a lawsuit. However, the board never bothered to reach out to those in the county that wrote the ordinance or anyone from The Puppy Mill Project – the group that was instrumental in developing the ordinances in Cook County and Chicago.
They did reconsider the ordinance at Berning’s bidding. Berning and his family own numerous Happiness is Pets (or Happiness is Puppies) in suburban Chicago. In communities that would be effected by the new ordinances, he has fought the ordinance, claiming that it would put his store or stores out of business. He repeatedly claims that his dogs come from good breeders, not puppy mills, even though the USDA records on his puppies show differently.
If you follow the paper trail, you’ll find that dogs in his store come from Amish puppy mills. The family has been known to hang posters in Indiana throughout Amish areas looking for puppies. If you have the stomach to step into one of his stores, you can pull the records and Google the breeders.
So, if you’re keeping score at home, the council has been swayed into the debate by someone that has never had an honest voice in the debate… someone who has made a fortune selling puppy mill dogs. They say they want to protect the pet store puppies…but who are they protecting when they do that – puppy mills. After all, good breeders don’t sell their pets in pet stores.
Berning also has claimed that ceasing to sell puppies would be deadly for his business. While the council buys that line of bullshit, the rest of us know that it would only kill his business if he continued his current business model. Since it’s an easy way to make big bucks, I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon.
In fact, I would love for all of the board from Arlington Heights to spend some time at another local business – Bentley’s Corner Barkery. The store, which originally opened in Arlington Heights several years ago, has never sold dogs and cats. It focuses on selling high quality pet food.
Bentley’s is not only not close to going out of business, the store has been expanding in leaps and bounds. It now has locations in Schaumburg, Long Grove, Libertyville, Glenview and two locations in Chicago. A Hoffman Estates store is set to open in a few weeks. It is one of the fastest growing local businesses. And, it’s never sold pets and has supported rescue and the efforts of The Puppy Mill Project.
When the issue was discussed on Monday, the community again failed to reach out to animal advocates, The Puppy Mill Project or Bentleys, which is why I get an awful pit in the bottom of my stomach when it comes to this debate in this community.
A Cook County judge is close to throwing out the lawsuit filed to stop the county ordinance from going into effect. When he does, the clock will be ticking on the low life businesses that have been making a killing by defrauding the public and selling puppy mill dogs. And, the spotlight will be shining brightly on Arlington Heights to see if they will be swayed the bucks they earn on taxes of Happiness Is Pets…or if they will be a voice for the animals by backing a stronger ordinance.
Time will tell.
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Filed under: Puppy Mills