“Furry Babies” Pet Store Faces Lawsuit for Allegedly Selling Unhealthy Puppy Mill Puppies

Posted on June 5, 2013

For immediate release

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Niki Ianni, Humane Society of the United States
Ilyse Strongin-Bombicino, The Puppy Mill Project

CHICAGO — A group of consumers filed a lawsuit in LaSalle County Circuit Court against the Chicago pet store chain Furry Babies, Inc., claiming that the store sold sick puppies from puppy mills to unsuspecting consumers in violation of state consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit was filed by the international law firm Edwards Wildman, along with attorneys from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The case, which was developed over the past two years with the assistance of the Illinois nonprofit group The Puppy Mill Project, alleges that the stores misrepresent the origin of the puppies they sell in violation of state law by claiming to sell “hand-picked” and “nursery-raised” puppies from reputable breeders. The chain frequently acquires puppies from inhumane breeding facilities known as puppy mills, which often produce puppies with physical ailments and behavioral problems due to the intense, unsanitary confinement and overbreeding practices endemic to these facilities.

“This slick network of puppy abusers is deceiving consumers and profiting from the extreme mistreatment and neglect of helpless animals,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “Furry Babies’ corporate greed for ‘puppy’ profits has led them to break the law.”

“We received a multitude of complaints about Furry Babies and, without legal help, we could only take the case so far,” explains Cari Meyers, founder of Chicago-based The Puppy Mill Project. “We are so pleased to have the law firm of Edwards Wildman, along with the legal teams of ALDF and The HSUS, assisting the plaintiffs.”

The plaintiffs claim that in contrast to the stores’ promotional materials, Furry Babies puppies are frequently born, raised, and transported in filthy conditions, deprived of social contact, and shipped at younger ages than permitted by animal welfare laws. The USDA, the federal agency which licenses breeding facilities that sell dogs to pet stores, has repeatedly cited Furry Babies’ suppliers for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. After one such inspection, the USDA cited a Furry Babies supplier for failing to tend to dogs with excessively matted fur and overgrown nails, causing deformity, lameness, and severe discomfort. Other citations issued to Furry Babies suppliers point to dogs living in waste-filled conditions hospitable to vermin, dogs without bedding in sub-zero temperatures, and dogs with obvious but untreated diseases.

“Furry Babies reaps huge profits by selling puppy mill puppies to well-intentioned dog lovers who would never knowingly buy a puppy bred in inhumane conditions,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “Families often bear the great expense of veterinary treatment for sick dogs, or the terrible anguish of losing a beloved family pet. It’s time to stop this shameless industry from abusing consumers and dogs alike.”

In the fall of 2012, The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of several Chicago-area pet stores and found that Furry Babies routinely obtains puppies from puppy mills, and violates the Illinois laws requiring disclosure of puppy origins.

Due to concerns about puppies coming from disreputable sources, some cities are considering measures to ban the sale of dogs from puppy mills in pet stores, such as a recent ordinance passed in Los Angeles. “Puppy lemon law” legislation in Illinois is awaiting the governor’s signature as consumers find themselves the owners of puppies with undisclosed, severe health conditions resulting from inhumane and irresponsible breeding in puppy mills.

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty–on the Web at humanesociety.org.

The Puppy Mill Project is a non-profit organization created to educate the public and raise awareness about the systematic animal cruelty in puppy mills. Based in Chicago, Illinois, and founded in 2009, The Puppy Mill Project has been successful in closing down multiple stores that were selling puppy mill dogs, and converting several others to a “Humane Pet Store Model”. Cari Meyers, the Founder, has made it her passion and life’s work to put an end to puppy mill cruelty. It is the only organization in Illinois dedicated solely to ending puppy mill cruelty. For more information, please call 847-261-4245, or visit www.ThePuppyMillProject.org.

Edwards Wildman is an Am Law 100 firm with 625 lawyers in the US, UK and Asia. Our lawyers are known internationally for their work in private equity, venture ­capital, corporate and finance, complex litigation, insurance and reinsurance and ­intellectual property.


6 thoughts on ““Furry Babies” Pet Store Faces Lawsuit for Allegedly Selling Unhealthy Puppy Mill Puppies

  1. marilyn B. says:

    Good luck to the Puppy Mill project!! I honestly hope that you succeed and stop the cruelty to these poor little creatures!!! Marilyn B.

  2. Dr. Lori Ugolik says:

    This is a disgrace. Almost all pet store, especially chains, are buying pets from mills. Disgusting; this needs to be stopped. Remember, adopt don’t buy, while those in shelters and mills are abused and die!

  3. Lisa, Animal Lover! says:

    What have these poor innocent animals ever done to us to deserve this kind of treatment? We are supposed to be the superior being here but we sure as hell do not act like it when we humans do things like this to innocent animals. People who torture other sentient beings, is a monster, an enormous dreadful beast. What is wrong with us? Does it make us feel powerful and almighty to inflict pain and suffering to another living being that cannot defend themselves against such an evil creature as the human? It’s disgraceful that we harm and torture innocent sentient beings. This is nothing to be proud of, it’s shameful and embarrassing. Any human that can inflict so much pain on another living being is a LOSER and PATHETIC SOB! They’re a failure to humanity and the same thing should be done to them as they have done, it’s only fair. They need to understand what it feels like to be alone with no one to help them while they’re being tortured and in excruciating pain. They need to know what these animals are going through. How the hell would they like it? I’m so ashamed to be part of race that is so greedy and evil.

  4. Judith says:

    Please lets shut down these cruel puppy mills. They are not in it because they love these poor puppies,they are only in it for blatant greed. Adopt a dog from a shelter, there are thousands needing homes.

  5. Mitch & Lauri says:

    Me and my wife have 5 rescued dogs from puppy mills, ages 10 weeks through 9 years. We have seen the severe health issues and mental trauma due to poor conditions and lack of human contact and neglect. This offense should be a major felony, the puppy mills owners should be locked up and it would actually be a shame that in prison, they would have much better conditions than that of the dogs in their care. We will never shop at a pet store that is a chain that sells any type of puppies that come from mills. People need to get in touch with their legislators and senators for support. Spread the word…….rescue your next animal from a rescue group or shelter. Our 10 week old puppy came from a pregnant female rescued from a mill, so if you are wanting a puppy, you do NOT have to buy from a pet store!

  6. Barbara Griffith says:

    What needs to be done is force the USDA to shut down each puppy mill as they find the cruelty not write it up and forget about it or go back six months later to check on the puppy mill in question and find the same thing. They need to be shut down on the first filth laden pen they find, don’t give the operator a chance to talk their way out of being shut down, or claim that they were to busy to clean out the pens. And just why are these small dogs kept in rabbit hutches in the first place? That’s no place for these small dogs. The main reason this is such a problem is the fact that the USDA inspectors ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOBS THAT WE THE TAXPAYER ARE FOOTING THE BILL ON.