Suburban pet store involved in class-action lawsuit, brought on by dissatisfied pet owners

Lombard, IL

The Big Number: 5 - That’s the number of branches of the Chicagoland pet store, Happiness is Pets, involved in a class-action lawsuit brought upon by dissatisfied pet owners

The plan
On Feb. 14, a joint action lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, by several pet owners who purchased their dogs from Happiness is Pets stores throughout the Chicago suburbs.

The suit names 5 Happiness is Pets branches, along with the store’s owner Ronald Berning.

Plaintiffs allege they purchased puppies from Happiness is Pets under the impression that the dogs received proper veterinary attention, were free of disease and illness and had been bred by private, reputable breeders throughout the Midwest.

However, the lawsuit alleges the puppies purchased were actually bred in puppy mills and suffered from a variety of medical conditions, including kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, distemper and genetic disorders.

The suit claims the plaintiffs suffered “substantial financial and emotional damages.”

The impact
Jane Clifford, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, purchased her puppy in April 2010, after being told by employees at the Happiness is Pets store the dog, Missy, was healthy and came from a private and reputable breeder.

Shortly after purchasing the puppy, Missy became ill and needed emergency room and veterinary care. Clifford later learned Missy’s breeder, according to the records at Happiness is Pets, is not a private breeder, but actually a puppy mill, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states plaintiffs in the class action suit are seeking refunds from the Happiness is Pets for the purchase of their pets, full reimbursements for veterinary and other medical expenses and for putative damages.

Anyone who purchased a puppy with health problems from this business and is interested in becoming involved in the class action lawsuit can contact Ida McCarthy, Chicago campaign coordinator for the Companion Animal Protection Society, at (630) 479-4673 or idamccarthy@yahoo.com. Complaint forms also can be completed at caps-web.org.