ORLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — There were no arrests at a demonstration outside an Orland Park pet shop Sunday, but police came close.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the protest was held outside the Happiness Is Pets store, at 15647 S. 94th Ave. in Orland Park. Members of the Companion Animal Protection Society was demonstrating against the sale of puppy mill pets, which the group accuses the store of doing.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
The group says two dogs purchased at other stores in the Happiness Is Pets chain have died of distemper, a disease contagious to other dogs.
“They have not been to his breeders. (Owner) Ron Berning knows he sells puppy mill puppies, and he doesn’t care about the problem,” protester Dianne Arp said.
At the demonstration, words were exchanged between Arp and another woman, Michelle Winslow. It escalated to the point where Arp decided to call police.
When police arrived and were talking with Arp, the other woman’s husband, Robert Winslow, approached and tried to talk with police.
After Winslow refused to leave the scene, police had him place his hands up against a vehicle and took his driver’s license.
After police talked to him, Winslow’s license was returned to him and no charges were filed. Emotions ran deep on both sides, so a police officer and a trainee lingered in a car in the parking lot.
During the demonstration, protesters stood on the sidewalk along 94th Avenue, holding signs and chanting slogans against the chain. They urged motorists to sound their horns if they supported their cause. Several did.
Nancy Malinowski, of Orland Park, braved the chilly weather because she opposes puppy mills, places that breed puppies to put them up for sale.
“I have adopted two puppy mill parents. They’ve spent their lives in cages for five years. Just to see the emotional damage it has done to them … they don’t know what grass is or how to walk up stairs, just learning how to be a normal dog. They’re really skittish and don’t know how to play,” Malinowski said. “You have to kind of be like a mother hen and teach them how to be dogs.”
Employees at the Orland Park Happiness Is Pets shop declined comment and said Berning was not available for comment.
Companion Animal Protection Society spokeswoman Kristen Kaminski, of Manteno, said “the owner refuses to talk about or take responsibility.”
The puppies “are not vaccinated properly, are not taken care of, are fed horribly and are bred over and over until they die, basically,” Kaminski said.
Winslow tells a different story.
A puppy he bought on Jan. 2 from the Downers Grove store became ill in the first week, Winslow said. He took the greater Swiss mountain pup to a vet.
“The vets told us there was distemper in the Downers Grove and Naperville stores. We took the dog in a few days later. The vet got us paranoid, but the puppy only had one symptom, a discharge from the nose. We were concerned about it. We talked to the owner, and he took care of us,” Winslow said.
Berning’s son, Jonathan, agreed to pay about $500 in veterinary bills, refunded the $1,700 it cost to buy the puppy and gave Winslow a $1,000 gift certificate, Winslow said.
“He didn’t try to hide what happened. They even paid for a test to rule out distemper. I feel he’s a stand-up guy,” Winslow said.
The SouthtownStar contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.