Homes for the homeless
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent January 21, 2013 12:46PM
Teresa Chiletz of Joliet has been an animal advocate for more than 10 years. In conjunction with CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society), Chiletz helps educate the public about the possible connection between pet stores and puppy mills.
If you go
Dog Patch Pet and Feed
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 1108 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville.
Etc: Full-service pet store. All dogs and cats are rescued from high-kill shelters and no longer come from private breeders.
Contact: 630-420-2120 or visit www.dogpatchpets.com.
Bow Wow Bingo Fundraiser for Annie’s Little Angels
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 8.
Where: Little Joe’s Famous Italian Restaurante, 1300 N. Cedar Road, New Lenox.
Etc: All-you-can-eat pizza and pop, 10 games of bingo with prizes, door prizes, 50/50 raffle, vendors.
Register: 815-641-1368, www.annieslittleangels.org.
Updated: February 23, 2013 6:15AM
When Greg Gordon, owner of Dog Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville, transitioned from acquiring dogs from small, private breeders to offering only rescue dogs, he worried the public might think his previous acquisitions were shady and that they’d dislike the change.
Neither was true.
“People are very happy to take home puppies from us,” Gordon said. “My customers have been behind the change.”
The need for pet store owners to “go humane” was part of the message the Midwest Chapter of Companion Animal Protection Society delivered to passers-by on Jan. 12 on Mall Loop Drive in Joliet.
One dozen volunteers withstood the cold weather to hold protest signs, talk to people about the connection between retail pet stores and puppy mills and pass out informational brochures about ways to help.
Volunteer and animal advocate Teresa Chiletz of Joliet hopes Gordon’s example will serve as a model for other pet store owners. Consumers, Chiletz said, often don’t realize that many retail pet stores obtain their dogs from mass breeders and that many of these dogs wind up euthanized.
“A puppy mill’s job is to breed puppies for profit. It’s a business,” said Chiletz, who’s been involved in animal activism for more than a decade. “These dogs live in cages and receive little to no veterinary care. We want to encourage other pet stores to also go humane, to only feature dogs they’ve gotten from rescues.”
Arguments in favor of the puppy mill industry, Chiletz said, include the tendency for people to favor particular breeds, especially small ones, and to buy a dog on impulse. However, for nearly every known dog breed, there is a rescue devoted to saving it. The desire to sell only specific breeds to feed a current fad is no excuse to favor puppy mills, Chiletz added.
Helping Dog Patch Pet and Feed switch from purchasing dogs from small, private breeders (Gordon never bought a dog from a puppy mill, he said) was Brandy Gergescz, founder of the Plainfield-based Annie’s Little Angels Humane Education & Small Breed Dog & Cat Rescue.
“Some people contacted me about his store because they were pretty upset,” Gergescz said. “When I talked to the owner, I learned he’d been working with shelters a little bit here and there and had been looking for a way to get involved with rescues.”
Soon afterward, around Thanksgiving 2011, Gergescz learned of two dogs scheduled for euthanasia. Annie’s Little Angels did not have room for the dogs so Gergescz contacted Gordon and he accepted them.
“They were adopted pretty quickly,” Gergescz said.
By the end of January 2012, all the dogs offered in Gordon’s store were rescue animals. During the transition, Gergescz continued supplying Gordon with dogs or she accompanied him to Chicago Animal Control and helped him pick out dogs.
Once they received the appropriate care through Annie’s Little Angels, the dogs made the appropriate transfer to Dog Patch Pet and Feed. By November, Gordon had sufficient experience and contacts to continue on his own.
Although Gordon never patronized a puppy mill and he always obtained his cats from shelters, he wanted to make the switch with dogs, too. Many of his contacts were no longer breeding dogs and Gordon would only work with ethical and respectable private breeders.
“When I bought puppies 15 years ago, I had about 30 different breeders that I felt comfortable with and trusted,” Gordon said. “Now there’s only four and that’s just isn’t enough.”
Gordon’s main contacts include an Oklahoma rescue and a Tennessee rescue; this last rescues dogs from six high-kill shelters. This ensures Gordon will have an adequate amount and variety of dogs to keep his customers happy.
However, Gordon said, there is a downside to operating a pet store business only with rescued animals and that is the reduced revenue stream, which Gordon hopes the $350 shelter pup adoption fee will eventually restore. Gordon insists his store makes no money from the adoptions; he is merely covering his costs. Otherwise, Gordon is happy with the transition.
“I even have two guinea pigs that were rescued,” Gordon said.
To learn more about CAPS, visit www.caps-web.org.