Three years ago, 16 Chicago pet shops sold puppies. Now there are just 3.
Chicago passed an anti-puppy mill ordinance in 2015, which levies fines and misdemeanor charges for stores that sell animals from commercial breeding facilities (e.g. Puppy Mills).
But not so fast, unfortunately...
The folks buying and selling these puppy mill dogs found a loophole. "Rescue Dogs".
The three remaining Chicago puppy-selling shops have turned to faux-rescues for their supply, keeping them technically in compliance with the ordinance. After the ordinance passed, two longtime puppy mill dealers each created non-profit rescues and began supplying puppies (over 1,200 of them) to the Chicago stores.
Who are they?
According to the Tribune article, over 10k pages of inspection reports, tax forms, veterinary records and other public documents were reviewed, linking the following "rescues" to commercial dealers:
These are the remaining pet shops identified to be selling puppies from these so-called rescues.
Pocket Puppies, 2479 N. Clark St, Chicago IL
Park Pet Shop, 10429 S. Kedzie Ave, Chicago IL
Pet Luv Pet Center, 8057 S. Cicero Ave, Chicago IL
Dogs are seen April 11, 2018 in outside kennels on the property of a canine dealer in the Missouri Ozarks who operates a for-profit transport business and Dog Mother Rescue Society, a nonprofit that sources dogs to three Chicago pet stores. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
A man wearing a T-shirt from Lonewolf Kennels in Iberia, Mo., delivers puppies to Pocket Puppies in Chicago's Lincoln Park community on May 1, 2018. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
Who enables them?
Missouri is one of the most problematic states for puppy mill operations (but they're not alone). The Cavalry Group, a Missouri-based organization that advocates for animal-related businesses is now commenting on behalf of Hobo Rescue/J.A.K.'s owner Noethe.
Cavalry CEO Mark Patterson's comment to the Tribune in response to their investigation sums up the problem (and lack of humanity) well: “Like many other businesses they make best efforts to maximize their efficiency in delivering a product that is in demand from the public.”
Pissed Off? Want to help?
#1 Puppies aren't products.
But Patterson has a point, albeit distasteful. No Demand = No Puppy Mill Business
Help share information. Forward this post or the Tribune article to friends. The more we all know, the more impact we all can make.
People like the owners of the "rescues" - Jolyn Noethe (Britt, IA), Kim Dolphin (Britt, IA) and Allison Uzunov Hedgpeth (Iberia, IA) - live in the shadows. Shedding some light can go a long way. However, of note, at the moment at least, each can be found on social media.
#2 Help support real rescues and check out The Puppy Mill Project (they do great work). The Humane Society of The United States, the ASPCA, and Best Friends Animal Society all have great information and resources as well, to help you be informed and make an impact wherever you live.
#3 Adopt or buy responsibly. If you are planning to get a pure-bred or specialty mix puppy, do your homework and find a reputable breeder. (Trust us, their puppies will never be found in a pet store).