As Chicago's City Council gears up to decide whether or not to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs, kitten mill cats and commercially bred rabbits in pet stores, they should read Lucy's story. Lucy is another sick puppy that was sold at a Chicago area pet store and died before leaving puppyhood. She's left her family broken hearted, in debt and loaded with questions.
Christa Curran's story started when her family started to search for a second dog to add to the family last summer. They had worked with a local breeder in the past and expanded their search to shelters, rescues, ads and then pet stores. They were looking for a dog that would fit in with their blended family including an 18 month old.
'We had looked for awhile and I was always leery of pet stores, deep down I know they are connected to puppy mills,' says Curran. 'My mother-in-law has trained police dogs and was active with the AKC, she warned me too about pet stores and the AKC papers. But, we met this great Bull-Mastiff puppy and she was so good with my kids, especially the baby.'
The family went back to the Naperville Petland three times to see the pet store puppy before finally deciding to make a purchase. They were guaranteed that the dog was a pure breed that came with AKC papers from a good breeder. Curran negotiated the price down, applied for credit to purchase the dog and took her to their home near DeKalb. They named the dog Lucy.
Lucy and Giardia
Included in sale of the puppy was a free veterinary visit to Petland's preferred vets in either Glen Ellyn or Yorkville. It was at this first vet appointment that the Currans found out that Lucy had Giardia, an intestinal parasite. They paid for medication and brought her home.
'We took her to our own vet in DeKalb because she never really quite shook it. She could not make it through the night without pooping in her crate,' adds Curran. 'She tested positive for Giardia again. She kept eating and eating and the vet said the food was pretty much going right through her and she wasn't digesting properly.'
It was her vet that also questioned whether or not Lucy was as advertised - a pure breed Bull-Mastiff. Her vet thought she was mixed with boxer or pit bull. Curran says that when she reached out to Petland, they said their numbers and information claimed the dog was as claimed that she'd need to take the matter up with the AKC (American Kennel Club).
Lucy continued to battle Giardia and this week took a turn for the worse. She got very thin and by Thursday morning the family had reached out to Petland, who sent her to their vet in Yorkville again.
'Lucy was so weak, I carried her to the car and they had to carry her into the vet,' she told me. 'Petland was claiming she wasn't their responsibility any longer that it wasn't a warranty issue. The vet agreed to an X-Ray and we found out that she had apparently eaten something. She was so sick and so weak, the vet doubted she would make it through the surgery.'
'When they brought her into the room to say good-bye, she was so sick and worn out she didn't even acknowledge us,' says Curran. 'She'd not eaten anything but food until recently. Our vet said that because her body wasn't getting proper nourishment due to the Giardia that he felt was chronic, she was trying to eat what she could to make up for what she was missing.'
Curran had the vet run a DNA test on the dog (results are not back yet). The family is still making payments on the dog, has veterinary bills from Lucy's chronic condition and they are now wondering -
Was their dog the breed advertised and promised on the AKC papers? How many other dogs Petland is selling with chronic illnesses like Giardia?
'I've learned my lesson and would never purchase a dog from a pet store again,' says Curran. 'We would like a refund or compensation from the store for veterinary care and other costs from losing Lucy.'
Chicago's proposed ordinance
On Wednesday, Chicago's City Council votes on the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance. The ordinance is sponsored by Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza and spearheaded by the advocacy group The Puppy Mill Project. The ordinance will accomplish a couple of things - ban the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs (from puppy mills and kitten mills) and protect consumers from potential fraud through the sale of these pets.
Like Curran, many consumers are told by pet store employees when they purchase dogs that they come from good breeders and not puppy mills. Many people also are taken in by the AKC papers, which prove nothing about how good a dog's lineage may be. As the ordinance moves closer to a vote, much of that same propaganda is being pushed by groups fighting against the pet store ordinance.
Another great aspect of the ordinance is that pet stores will be required to work with animal control, rescues or humane societies to adopt out cats and dogs instead, saving thousands of pets lives in our community.
How you can help
If you'd like to support the ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs in Chicago pet stores, you can support the ordinance in two ways ( story is here) -
If you'd like to read more about some of the pets sold at Petland and other pet stores -
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