An Arlington Heights pet store owner won a temporary reprieve Monday from Cook County’s so-called puppy mill law, which was challenged this week in a federal lawsuit.
CAPS Chicago Campaign Coordinator Dianne Arp is mentioned/quoted in this article.
An Arlington Heights pet store will be allowed to stay open for now — in spite of a Cook County ordinance banning the sale of dogs from puppy mills — but village officials may impose new regulations soon. Happiness is Pets owner Ronald Berning said his breeders offer high-quality puppies with a two-year warranty. “I’m asking you to opt out and let me stay in business,” he told the village board.
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Three suburban pet shops filed suit Monday aiming to stop implementation of a new Cook County law that would ban many pet stores from operating.
On Christmas, while his 3-year-old daughter opened her presents, pet-shop owner Michael Gill was in his bathroom cradling an English bulldog mix puppy suffering from a lethal canine virus. The dog had contracted parvo, a deadly and highly contagious intestinal disease. Six puppies in his store that died, along with seven that became sick, were delivered by a Missouri-based dog distributor, he said. “It was the single worst experience I’ve had with animals in 20 years,” said Gill, the owner of a pet store in suburban Philadelphia. In February, Gill decided to stop buying dogs from commercial breeders and opted for rescue dogs from shelters, a trend the Humane Society of the United States said was catching on. The Missouri distributor says industry critics are uninformed. Commercial pet stores often buy puppies from dog brokers or distributors, the middlemen between breeders and the retailers. Animal advocates say some of those breeders are puppy mills that raise the dogs in poor conditions. The ASPCA estimates that there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the country. Of those, 20 percent to 30 percent are U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed breeders licensed to sell to stores. Missouri is a national leader in puppy mills, along with Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. More than 2 million dogs from puppy mills are sold each year, according to the humane society. “It’s been a bumpy ride,” said Gill of the change in his business model, which also has required renovations at his stores to accommodate the more mature and larger rescue dogs. “It’s much more rewarding. We don’t feel comfortable selling (brokered) puppies.” Gill’s two locations are not the only area pet stores to make the change. The owners of the 10 area PetsPlus stores, Mark Arcadia and Bruce Smith, made a similar decision. Two of their locations are adopting rescue dogs. The other eight expect to convert by the end of the year. “It is definitely a trend,” said Kathleen Summers, the humane society’s director of outreach and research. SAVING ANIMALS Two factors driving the change are consumer concerns over puppy mills and complaints about sick dogs purchased from pet stores, Summers said. New local regulations are also pushing the conversion. Citing concerns about puppy mills, governments in more than 50 places across the county have passed ordinances that ban the sale of commercially raised puppies in pet stores, Summers said. The list includes Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Chicago; El Paso, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; San Diego; Los Angeles; the state of Florida; and numerous communities in New Jersey. Michael Stokley, director of corporate sales for Hunte Corp. in Goodman, Mo., one of the largest distributors of commercial puppies in North America, said lawmakers were uninformed on the issue. He said allegations against commercial distribution of puppies were driven by activists with an agenda. “We have a totally regulated industry top to bottom,” he said. “Yet arbitrarily, people are shutting down taxpaying, regulated businesses within their community.” Gill’s business, We Love Pets, and PetsPlus alleged that they purchased sick puppies from Hunte. Stokley said that he was familiar with Gill’s complaints, but that the store’s “records did not support his allegations.” The company meets all federal, state, and local regulations, he said. The USDA inspection reports from 2011 to January 2014 showed Hunte to be in compliance. Smith said PetsPlus did business with Hunte for 10 years but dropped it a year ago. He said Hunte had delivered puppies with colds and pneumonia. Smith said the two PetsPlus stores now draw puppies from a shelter in Bowling Green, Ky., and were contacting with local shelters for adoptions. “We like saving lives,” he said. PetsPlus still is listed in Hunte’s database, although Stokley said he did not know when Hunte had last shipped puppies to the stores. “If that is the decision they made, that is a business decision,” he said. Gill now works with one of the activists who picketed his store almost every weekend for 21/2 years. Patricia Biswanger, now board president of the Chester County SPCA in suburban Philly, said she did not hesitate when Gill offered the SPCA space for shelter dogs and other animals. “It is all about saving animals,” she said. “I’m delighted to be working with him.”
The owner of an Arlington Heights pet store is asking village leaders to make them from exempt from a new Cook County ordinance banning them from selling dogs bred at so-called puppy mills. Village trustees tonight will discuss the request from Happiness is Pets’ owner Ronald Berning, who in a letter to officials said the county ordinance that goes into effect Oct. 1 will force him out of his business.
Message from CAPS Illinois Director Ida McCarthy:
"If you want to see where Berning really gets his dogs, please visit our website, www.caps-web.org and look up Steve Kruse in Iowa. There are over 1000 dogs at this facility. He sold 4770 puppies last year. With this much volume, it’s quite obvious that these are factory farmed dogs. There is a class action lawsuit pending with this chain. Please don’t buy the lie.”
Pet Promenade at Ty Warner Park Sept. 13
CAPS’ Chicago team won’t be protesting next Saturday! They’ll be at Westmont Pet Promenade handing out pet shop and puppy mill information. Stop by and say hello!
On Tuesday night, Naperville city council heard commentary on potential regulation of retail pet sales from 21 speakers over the course of 2 hours, interspersed with pointed questions by board members. Previously, the board requested city staff research the issue and provide recommendations. While having received a good deal of information, the board decided additional due diligence …
Message from CAPS Illinois Director Ida McCarthy:
'What better way to spend a gorgeous day outside? I can't say enough how many people are so receptive to us at this location! We met a man who spent $15,000 on vet bills for a dog he bought from HIP years ago. The dog has been dead many years, but he just finished paying the vet bills. Unbelievable and so sad. Thank you everyone who came out today. Not one dog was sold while we were there.”
Location: Happiness is Pets in Naperville, IL
Date: September 6, 2014