Over 200 animal welfare advocates marched on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Sunday afternoon to help build awareness about the horrific conditions in puppy mills. The Puppy Mill Project scheduled the event to coincide with national Puppy Mill Awareness Day. The march was lead by Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza and Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project.
“The turnout today is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you all for coming,” Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project, told the crowd when they arrived at the Hancock Building. “This is just the beginning, we need to say no more pets sold in pet stores – not in Chicago, not in the state of Illinois! We don’t want them, no more commercial breeders here. You have to stand up and talk to your legislators and go to your alderman and say we’re done. We cannot support animal cruelty in the state of Illinois.”
Chanting “one, two, three, four, we don’t want your pet store” representatives of shelters and rescues from throughout the Chicago-area also took the message about the importance of animal adoption to the streets. There were also many animal advocates from out-of-state that traveled to Chicago to be part of the rally.
They passed out postcards and answered questions about puppy mills while marching from the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the John Hancock Building and back. Several dogs that had been rescued from puppy mills also were on hand to march with their adopter and rescues.
“This is a protest for something we shouldn’t even have to protest – cruelty to animals,” added Mendoza. “Dogs are not pets, they are members of the family and to treat them in anyway other than we expect to be treated ourselves is frankly cruel and shouldn’t be happening – not in the state of Illinois or city of Chicago. We should not under any circumstances be supporting any industry that feeds into the puppy mills.”
When Mendoza was a member of the state legislature, she worked with The Puppy Mill Project to co-sponsor the Illinois Pet Store Disclosure Act. The bill requires that pet stores provide information about the dogs breeder on or near the cage in pet stores. Mendoza said at the rally that even though the bill was “so common sense” she had a difficult time getting it passed. The law went into effect January 1, 2011.
Along with educating the public about puppy mills, The Puppy Mill Project is working to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The organization is working with independent pet stores to help them move to a humane model that focuses on adopting out cats and dogs instead of selling them.
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