Pet store investigation links dozens of sellers to puppy mills - FOX 32 News Chicago

PHOTOS: Pet store investigation links dozens of sellers to puppy mills

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Mark Besinger with his new puppy purchased from Puppies-R-Us. Mark Besinger with his new puppy purchased from Puppies-R-Us.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

More puppies are sold at Christmas time than any other time of year -- and the Humane Society of the United States is warning that many of the dogs come from puppy mills.

The Humane Society of the United States investigated Chicago area pet stores. Their report says many stores claimed they didn't do business with puppy mills, but the evidence proved that many of their puppies did come from inhumane breeders.

Many store owners FOX 32 News spoke with, either denied that they bought their dogs from puppy mills, or, as in the case of the owners of the "Collar and Leash Boutique," said they do their best to buy from breeders who take care of their dogs.

Mark Bensinger recently purchased a puppy from "Puppies R Us" on North Ashland and couldn't be happier.

But, the Humane Society of the United States cited the "Puppies R Us" store as one of a dozen in the Chicagoland area that buys their dogs from so-called puppy mills or mass breeding operations, where the Humane Society says, dogs are raised in inhumane conditions.

The owner of "Puppies R Us" said he has a book for customers to see where each dog comes from, and he says none of his suppliers are puppy mills.

"I've been dealing with these guys for about maybe 9, 10 years," Bensinger says. "I bought two Rottweilers over there for my mom and pops, I bought a little Chihuahua from these guys."

When asked if he has ever had problems with his dogs, Bensinger said, "no, they're still at the house right now, healthy as mules."

The investigation also cited two stores in the "Happiness is Pets" chain, accusing them of buying dogs from large-scale breeders who had been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for substandard treatment of dogs.

Earlier this year, Fox 32 News reported about one customer of "Happiness is Pets," whose German Shepherd died shortly after she got him. The owner of the store told us at the time that they take good care of all their dogs.

At "Collar and Leash," the owner admits they do have a few dogs from a puppy mill, but she says they try their best to use reputable breeders. She points out they've been in business more than 50 years.

The Humane Society said the goal of this campaign is to educate people, especially those like Mark Bensinger, who are buying dogs for Christmas. They say the best way to be sure your new pet isn't from a puppy mill is to buy from a shelter, and avoid big pet stores.

"We want consumers to be aware and to research where they get their puppies from, of course we recommend adopting shelter dogs first and foremost," says Kristen Strawbridge, the Illinois State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

The owner of "Puppies R Us" said she does her very best to make sure to research where she is getting her dogs from but says it's very hard. She says part of the problem is that the USDA doesn't do a good enough job on their end of actually investigating and making sure that puppy operations are actually following the law.

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