LISLE – A group of protesters forced what they say to be both a pet store and puppy mill in the center of Lisle to shut its doors.
Puppy Parlor, 4707 Main St., closed in late February because of pressure from national nonprofit the Companion Animal Protection Society.
The business, owned by Tammy Conglianese, opened in 2009.
On her website, Conglianese says she is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which oversees pet store operations.
Chicago campaign coordinator for CAPS Ida McCarthy said the organization became alarmed about the nature of Conglianese’s business after viewing a photo, released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, of the store’s back room. In the picture, dogs are stored in small cages stacked four high.
A list compiled by the Humane Society of the United States includes Puppy Parlor among the top 100 “problem puppy mills” in the U.S.
Posted on the Puppy Parlor site are several inspection reports from the Department of Agriculture from May through September, 2013. The inspections appear to have been made in response to complaints describing “inhumane” and “filthy” conditions in addition to other concerns.
A puppy mill is defined by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as a “large-scale commercial dog-breeding operation that places profits over the wellbeing of its dogs.”
A statement noting the store’s closure on the Puppy Parlor website says the “descriptions of these photos have been taken completely out of context. What is missing is actual evidence. There are no specifics.”
The department’s inspection reports list no violations on the part of Puppy Parlor. Notes from a visit Sept. 10 2013 state “there were no signs of mistreatment or neglect on the puppies by (Conglianese).”
The report goes on to state Puppy Parlor is not in the business of breeding but rather obtains the animals from Iowa-based breeders Oleo Acres and Conrad Kennels.
Inspection notes from a report dated July 2 2013, state “When I went into the back room with the most cages, I did see that it was about eight columns of cages. The columns consisted of two total cages stacked on top of one ... the puppies appeared healthy with ample space to move around and do their business.”
None of the reports available on the Puppy Parlor website indicate how many dogs and puppies were kept in the store’s back room.
According to CAPS and McCarthy, the pet store had about 50 adult dogs and 50 puppies in what McCarthy says was a total of 1,800 square feet of space.
Efforts to reach Conglianese for comment were unsuccessful.
McCarthy said her organization contacted both the village and the Department of Agriculture.
She said the department couldn’t do anything because the dogs, though stored in a cramped space, were kept within state guidelines.
CAPS affiliated protesters began gathering on a daily basis outside the store in July 2013, McCarthy said, urging Conglianese to change her business.
“Since the beginning of 2009, our police department has taken 81 calls regarding the Puppy Parlor business,” said Lisle Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Administration Ron Wilke in an email. “Of those calls, 38 came from the owner Tammy Conglianese.”
“Many of the calls we received were complaints regarding the business,” he said.
Wilke said the Illinois Department of Agriculture “was contacted several times by our department and conducted their own investigations.”
Since Puppy Parlor closed, McCarthy said Elk Grove-based nonprofit animal rescue Almost Home Foundation has taken 35 of the dogs recovered from the shuttered pet store.
An online fundraising campaign with a goal of $5,000 has been established to help fund the costs of medical care for the animals, including spaying and neutering. As of March 10, $1,850 had been raised.
“We are just glad to get those dogs out of that backroom,” McCarthy said. “That’s all we ever wanted.”