Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happiness is Pets - NOT

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, 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


  1. Hi Y'all,

    So wonderful to be reminded that the 'little things' add up.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Sorry, I know I should be commenting about the puppies, but what a handsome son you have!

  4. I do worrry about the puppies if the store closes... I hope someone takes care of the ones that aren't sold. That's for sure. What a comprehensive post.

    pawhugs, Max

  5. Good for you for getting your son involved too. He will grow up learning to take action in causes he's passionate about. That tiger truck thing is fascinating and a great way to educate more people about puppy mills. It's not easy to go out and hold signs and stand up for don't only blog the blog, but you also walk the walk!
    Peggy’s Pet Place

  6. Good on you!!! End puppy mills and bring these businesses that promote them crumbling down!!

    Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience Kim. I am so glad you took your son with you. It's important for young people to learn to express their opinion and act in a manner that is legal and respectful. I am happy to hear that several people heard your message that day and left without going into the store!

  8. I love seeing people making a difference -- turning even one person off from buying a puppy is worthwhile, especially with the cumulative effect. And like the other commenters, I was so impressed that your son is involved. And he IS handsome.

  9. How heartening it is to see that such peaceful demonstrations can have a positive impact and folks about to go into the store would re-evaluate their position and seek a more humane alternative to such a disgraceful situation.
    Big respect to you and all those involved. Increased awareness can bring about powerful results for the betterment of puppies.
    With respect, Gary

  10. Kim,

    I think a lot of people fear "activism" in terms of protests like this. Conflict is often uncomfortable, even when it's well contained within the law.

    I know from experience, and see that you do too, that activism is more often extremely empowering. You see the difference being made for that one person who walked away. And then there's another. You know these people will share their experience with friends, family and co-workers. Your message has the potential of spreading long after you're event is over. It's incredibly gratifying and I hope those reading consider getting involved.

    PS: As noted throughout the comments, your son IS a handsome fella.

    Thanks for Blogging and Being the Change!
    Kim C.

  11. Great information, the puppy store we had at our local mall went out of business. YAY! I only know of one other and need to figure out how to get a petition in my area!

    Thank you.

  12. We love that video van! HIGHPAW to all the demonstrators who give up 2 hours of their saturdays!!

  13. That video van is amazing! It's just this kind of action that changes things - one store at a time. I just spoke with someone in Michigan who has had a protest group outside this one store since 2009 every weekend - now he wants to talk. Business must be in the toilet.

    Great reminder to get your kids involved in something they are passionate about! Thanks for what you are doing for animals =) Great blog the change post!

  14. Good for you - and good for your young 'un too! We used to protest outside our Petland location here, before they closed. Keep up the good work - this stuff does have an impact!

  15. Really great post! Kudos to you and to the other demonstrators who are making a difference on the ground - it's great to hear that some people decided not to purchase pets there after being educated.

  16. Good on you for going out in support of such a vital cause. I truly believe that people would stop buying their pets from pet stores if they are confronted with the ugly reality. It's just most people turn their heads and don't pay attention. Even when it's right in front of them. By having such a strong presence in front of the store, you are forcing them to face it.

    Luckily there are no such chains in my city. There is one store left that actually sells live animals, one single tiny store, and I feel their demise is near.

  17. Bravo! Thanks so much for taking a "stand" (for real!) and getting out there to 'be the change'. Most of all, thank you for instilling those same values in your son. The next generation needs to pick up the mantle and continue the fight.

    Great post.

  18. I am so impressed about how well put together the protest was! I have no doubt that you, your son and the other protestors made a lot of people think about puppy mill issues.

    BTW - I always shudder when I see signs in pet shops that offer "financing" programs. YIKES!

  19. Thanks for stopping by our blog and leaving your kind comment, you made us smile. Your post is personal and shows that activism IS educational! Good work!

  20. I like the way they showed that video on the side of the truck. Anyway, however it really stands out, that you can make a valid point, is always tops with me. the genral public often doesn't acknowledge things like this until you throw it in their faces- full on. Like with protests, videos on truck sides and so on. I really respect you for bringing this disgusting thing (puppy mills) to everyone's attention. Thumbs up to you!

  21. Wow Kim, great job!!! Thank you so much for writing this!! Keep up the great work!

  22. Sidekick (Jacinta) and self have come over to blog here after reading the tweet about distemper in the puppies. Is so most awful for pups, but hope will spark a real change! Have always wished could go to pet shop protest, but live in NM where puppies and kitties in pet shops are (thankfully!) nonexistent.

    Keep up good work!

  23. Our Mama has seen those demonstrators in front of the Happiness Is Pets store in Arlington heights and also in Lombard! They are doing good work. We also know about a pet store that used to be in Stratford Square Mall that sold puppies and kept them in pretend baby cribs, it was called Fur Babies or something. They were also notorious for getting pups from puppy mills. Also Mama heard that pet stores actually have puppies euthanized if they are not sold in time, although they say they all get sold. They are actually putting to sleep healthy puppies, just to make room for younger puppies to "stock" in their store! :(


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