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Alsip Nursery Linked to Puppy Mill in Humane Society Report

Frankfort's Alsip Home and Nursery President Kris Shepard denies using Heritage Puppies, a known puppy mill, as a breeder and says Alsip only uses the company for its broker services.

A dozen Chicago-area pet stores—including Alsip Home and Nursery in Frankfort —have been listed in a puppy mill investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society said Tuesday that undercover investigators visited 12 stores over a three-day period in October, and found many are linked to inhumane commercial breeders known as puppy mills. During the visits, employees at the stores denied selling animals from puppy mills, but documents showed otherwise, according to the Humane Society.

Investigators also discovered that eight of the 12 stores were in violation of Illinois' pet shop disclosure law, which requires stores to post visible information about the animals and their breeders, the Humane Society said. The other four stores had information in binders that were not posted "in a conspicuous place on or near the cage of any dog or cat available for sale," according to the report.

The Humane Society also reviewed hundreds of Certificates of Veterinary Inspection documents, which show the origin of puppies shipped to Chicago-area pet stores. United States Department of Agriculture inspection reports for the puppy breeders were then examined for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, along with Illinois Department of Agriculture files on the pet stores themselves, which include public complaints and inspection reports.

Investigators who visited Alsip found that the store did not conspicuously post breeder information, the report states. Instead, the information was available in a binder near the puppy play area, which the State inspector felt was "acceptable to satisfy disclosure requirements," according to the report.

The Humane Society also said that two dogs at Alsip were being treated for upper respiratory infections at the time of the inspection, and that state inspection reports reveal that the store received a complaint in 2011 about a puppy that was purchased and then found to be infected with giardia.

The report says that many dogs in the store were bought from Heritage Puppies, a huge puppy breeder-broker in Iowa. According to the Humane Society, staff told the investigator that the store only buys puppies from breeders with small numbers of dogs.

However, "on a recent USDA inspection report for Heritage Puppies, the federal inspector noted 458 adult breeding dogs and 220 puppies on the property," the report says.

Alsip President Kris Shepard told Patch that the store takes every possible precaution to ensure that it does not buy from puppy mills. Shepard said Alsip purchases from Heritage Puppies only when Heritage is serving as the broker. Puppy brokers assist breeders in marketing their animals.

Shepard said that Alsip has a specific list of breeders that it will not buy from and that the store does research in advance when it decides to purchase puppies from a new breeder. 

The Chicago-area investigation was the latest of three conducted in large U.S. cities to show pet stores' reliance on puppy mills, according to the Humane Society.

Click here to read the full report from the Puppy Mill Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States.

This article was written by Patch editors Anna Schier and Amanda Luevano.

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Rich January 31, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Kathy, thank you. I have personally responded to roughly a dozen emails from the puppyrescue@alsipnursery.com inbox. Some have gone to junk mail. Some have not. I will check for yours. I am quite busy at all times as I am CEO of the company and back to my "roots" as I am also personally managing the greenhouses at our St. John store as I'm down a manager there. We appreciate you helping spread the word. We are updating our facebook and website regularly and will continue to do so. please "share" on facebook when you see them. We have met with South Suburban Humane Society, Humane Society Calumet area, ABRA (All breeds rescue), "I Wanna Go Home", smaller rescue affiliates through Dr. Coyne and even have a connection similar to the one that Dog patch in Naperville does with someone who drives south to rescue puppies and dogs from kill shelters in the south. I am personally going to Humane Society Calumet Area on Monday morning with the pet department managers of our two stores to help pick up several rescue pups as they are overloaded as many shelters are and need help. Please feel free to come in and speak with our staff or myself at any time. I am mainly at our Indiana store but I am in Frankfort every Wednesday. We had one rescue event as a test run at our Indiana store last year that went great. Beginning in February we will have a rescue event at each store once a month. Because we are open to the public and have kids in our stores all the time, we do have to take several precautions as we don't want anyone getting bitten or hurt. In conclusion, the main thing you can do to help is to spread the good word and we thank you in advance for that!!!!!
Ty Conderoga February 01, 2014 at 07:12 PM
Rich- How long have you worked at Alsip? I find it difficult to believe that you were unaware of the shady practices Alsip is guilty of. I understand after all the bad press and damage to the bottom-line that the move to rescue-only animals was only done to mitigate damage to your store's reputation. I guess if I'm a serial-killer, I can go out and volunteer at the church, all is forgiven, right? People, if you want a rescue dog from a place that will actively vet prospective pet owners, try a bonafide shelter, Like PAWS 8301 West 191st Street , Tinley Park, IL 60477. Phone: (815) 464-7298
Rich February 01, 2014 at 07:33 PM
Ty, you can refer to the link in my earlier comment. I have been working us towards this since before I took over. My own dog is a rescue that was originally from Lake County Animal Shelter and then brought into Alsip in 2012 long before this article came out. I don't just talk the talk. I walk the walk. Your comment c
Rich February 01, 2014 at 07:34 PM
Is appreciated and well received. Come in any time and we will be happy to answer any questions you have. -Rich.

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