Leading protests for the love of the dogs

Lombard, IL

Two Saturdays each month, rain or shine, Ida McCarthy can be found with a group of people protesting outside a Lombard pet store.

They’re upset, she said, because the store, and eight others throughout DuPage County, sell puppies that were bred under inhumane conditions in puppy mills.

More than three years ago, McCarthy joined a group called the Companion Animal Protection Society, which campaigns for humane protection of companion animals in pet stores and puppy mills.

McCarthy is the organization’s Chicago campaign coordinator. The reason she became so involved is waiting for her at home, an 8-year-old dog named Lucy.

“I got passionate about it because I bought a dog from a young couple who had bought it from (a puppy store,)” McCarthy said. “I took her knowing she was going to have problems because she came from a pet store.”

McCarthy said her dog suffers from a variety of medical problems and has difficulty walking.

For now, she’s set her sights on the pet store in Lombard because it’s part of the same chain where her dog was purchased and because she lives in town.

Thanks to the Internet, she said, word is spreading about the living conditions animals in pet stores and puppy mills can face.

And from a legal standpoint, the movement seems to be growing. Earlier this year, she said representatives from the Companion Animal Protection Society traveled to Springfield to support the Pet Store Disclosure Law, House Bill 5772.

Under the law, pet stores are required to tell patrons the name of the breeder that supplied dogs in the shop. Stores must also provide a record of all veterinary conditions and treatments and any known information about congenital or hereditary defects of the animal’s parents.

McCarthy said she’s excited about the law because with breeder information, people interested in purchasing from a pet store can research online first and investigate where a dog or cat came from.

Looking into the future, McCarthy said those at the organization hope DuPage County will pass a law banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores. Similar laws have already been passed in other areas, she said.

“There are nine pet stores in DuPage County that sell dogs,” she said. “It’s not really that many.”

So, as she protests twice a month, people who see McCarthy and the group sometimes pick up signs and join the group, she said. And sometimes, they’re supported in other ways. On hot days, people occasionally bring the protesters bottled water, and there have been times when workers from local restaurants have dropped off sandwiches.

“The reception is marvelous,” she said. “It’s a waiting game now and we’re not going to give up. We do it in the cold, we do it in the heat, because we can go home and these dogs can’t.”