With Christmas just two weeks away, the message to consumers looking to add a pet to the family is “buyer beware.” Separate undercover investigations – one unveiled today – have found that puppies sold at pet stores in Chicago and Illinois are coming from puppy mills throughout the Midwest and that pet store employees blatantly cover up the origin of the pets they sell.
“In Chicago alone, thousands of dogs have been sold in the past six months and 90-percent of those dogs have come from the state of Iowa,” says Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project. “The bulk of the dogs are shipped into the area through two brokers that all have ties to some of the most inhumane breeding operations in that state.”
Earlier today, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the results of their own undercover investigation into pet sales in Chicago. That investigation also tied puppies sold in Chicago directly to puppy mills with hundreds of dogs crammed into wire cages and kept in inhumane conditions for the sole purpose of breeding more puppies.
“We are pleased to have the support of the HSUS in bringing to light the seriousness of the situation,” says Meyers. USDA inspection reports from these breeders outline repeated cases of sick and injured dogs that have not had veterinary care, underweight animals, puppies and adult dogs with deformities and more.
“We’ve found in our investigation in the past three years that the dogs sold here come from some of the worst breeding operations in the country,” says Meyers. “The HSUS’s report today backs up what we have found and have been telling people in Illinois all along about pets sold in pet stores.”
One of the other issues with the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores is the lack of transparency about the origin of the animals from pet store employees. The Puppy Mill Project was instrumental in the passage of the Pet Store Disclosure Act, a groundbreaking bill that was created to help give consumers more information about a pet’s origin when they are shopping in a pet store.
That law, which went into effect almost two years ago was signed by Governor Pat Quinn in August of 2010, requires pet stores to post information about an animal’s origin in a conspicuous place. The information includes the name and address of breeders, license number and USDA licensing information where applicable, vaccination records and more.
“We have sent investigators into stores throughout the Chicago-area to ask questions about the dogs and the breeders,” says Meyers. “The pet shop employees routinely say the dogs come from small, local breeders. Because the information isn’t disclosed at many pet stores as required by law, consumers only have the word of a sales person.”
In the state of Illinois, approximately 15,000 puppies were sold in pet stores in the past year. The largest puppy producing states in America – Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana – are all in close proximity to Chicago
Founded in September of 2009, The Puppy Mill Project’s mission is to educate the public and raise awareness about puppy mills and their direct connection to pet stores, Internet sites and newspaper ads that sell dogs. The organization educates through community events, peaceful protests at pet stores and through advertising campaigns. In the past several years, the Chicago-based organization has been instrumental in the closure of four pet stores and has helped two other pet stores go humane.