Happiness is Pets is the name of a pet store chain in the Chicagoland area. The stores sell puppies. As far as I’m concerned, Happiness is Pets can be clumped into the same disrespectful group of pet businesses as Petland. And chances are, you have a store like this one not far from where you live. You don’t have to feel helpless about it, though.
|Happiness Is Pets Pet Store|
There are five stores for this particular chain, all located within heavily populated suburbs of Chicago. According to Companion Animals Protection Society (CAPS), the sources of the puppies that Happiness is Pets sells are puppy mills. That comes as no surprise to me, as I’ve been told by those familiar with breeders and breeding issues that, quite simply, responsible breeders will never sell their puppies through any store. Period. So, Happiness is Pets sells puppy mill dogs.
Yet, if you look at their website, they vehemently deny that their dogs are from puppy mills. Just like Petland and countless other pet stores, they insist their puppies come from good, caring breeders and are healthy, well-bred dogs. Heck, they even make a big deal about having a great rating with the BBB. I hate to point this out to them, but BBB does not rate a business based on whether the “product” sold is sourced from decrepit, money-hungry, ethically-challenged people like those who run puppy mills.
|Traffic slows to read the signs and honk!|
Why am I telling you about yet another pet shop selling puppy mill dogs? I had the opportunity recently to attend a couple of demonstrations, along with people who dedicate their Saturday afternoons to educating the public about this disgrace and encouraging them to avoid the store. Some of these protesters have even been victims themselves of the store’s deception – experiencing firsthand the problems and resulting anguish of purchasing a pet store puppy. For them, this is a very personal issue.
No matter the weather, every Saturday afternoon people gather in front of the stores and hold up signs for the passing traffic to see. It is a way to get the word out to the community at large, to those who might not otherwise know what lies behind the lies these stores tell folks who enter their business (or visit their website).
|Demonstrators cover the length of the strip mall|
These demonstrations are peaceful, respectful, and fully law-abiding. The demonstrators simply stand along the street, holding up the signs. One may call out to someone about to enter the store, asking if they’d like some information. Pamphlets are available for people if they choose to learn more, but are not forced upon anyone.
|Laurie, my friend – passionate about pets|
At times, customers who are about to enter the store will stop and listen to why the group of people holding signs are there, learn about the horrors of puppy mills and the complicit behavior of stores such as the one they were about to enter. And sometimes, these people get back into their cars, leaving enlightened, and searching for a different alternative in getting a pet for their home.
|Kenny, my son – being the change|
Apologies, this video is shaky (quite frankly, makes you feel seasick!) I didn’t realize my camera was actually working! The speaker was used so that people who had entered the store could hear from within it:
These demonstrations are led by the Chicago coordinator for CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society), Ida McCarthy. CAPS is perhaps best known for the undercover investigations they have done of puppy mill conditions.
Ida herself recently created a petition on Change.org, calling for a ban on the sale of dogs and cats by pet stores in her county, DuPage. If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to sign the petition and show your support –
Calling All Illinois Residents
A few weeks ago, the demonstration was a particularly energized one. Thanks to the generosity of Steve Hindi, of SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness), his Tiger Video Truck was stationed near the store. This truck, displaying video on all four sides from CAPS, detailed the terrible conditions dogs live and are bred in – in puppy mills – like the puppies sold at this store.
|SHARK’s Tiger Truck|
It was a successful day, several people left without even entering the store, choosing instead to consider a more humane source for their next pet.
The Tiger Video Truck was awesome, and provided a visual effect that captured the attention of even more people. It’s a unique way to spread the word!
What does this all mean to you? These demonstrations are held on Saturday afternoons – every other Saturday at the one I attended – and last a mere two hours long. How many hours do you piddle away every weekend, with nothing to show for it? This is something positive you can do, something that doesn’t cost anything or require any commitment.
Every puppy that is not sold results in lower sales. Based on what I heard, Happiness is Pets has had quite a dramatic decrease in their sales of late. Eventually, if something isn’t profitable, businesses stop doing it. And if pet stores stop selling the dogs, and our lawmakers get a grip on the loophole for internet sales – puppy mills will also no longer find what they have been doing as profitable.
There are pet stores all around the country, all around the world, that are just as guilty as this Happiness Is Pets chain is. Find out which ones are near you. Educate everyone you know – instill in them the need to avoid these stores entirely, unless they are either selling no pets, or are selling pets from a rescue or shelter. And check if there is a group already established in your area for demonstrating.
Two hours of your time could mean saving a lifetime of misery for an innocent dog.
It’s the first Blog the Change for 2012! See what others are blogging about at Be the Change for Animals