Saturday, 21 January 2012 02:00

Sold puppies infected with distemper

Update: CAPS was recently notified about yet another sick puppy purchased at the Happiness is Pets Lombard store. We' will add more information as soon as we get the details.

Protests this weekend: • Happiness is Pets in Naperville 1592 W. Ogden Avenue SATURDAY, January 28 at 2:00 pm and • Happiness is Pets in Orland Park 15647 S. 94th Avenue SUNDAY, January 29 at 1:00 pm

Publication/Event date: 2012-01-19
Publication name: Abc 7 News
URL for more info:
Two Chicago area pet stores recently sold puppies infected with distemper.

The dogs were bought from the Happiness is Pets shops in Naperville and Downers Grove.

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Related articles:

Naperville Sun: Dog distemper traced to local pet shop chain

Downers Grove Patch: Puppies Infected with Distemper Sold at DG Store
Published in Happiness is Pets
Publication/Event date: 2012-01-26

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URL for more info:

Summary: Protests for the Puppies – The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) will hold an informational protest in front of Happiness is Pets at 15647 S 94th Ave, Orland Park between 1 and 3 p.m. Signs will be provided.

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Happiness is NOT Pets Facebook Event Page

Happiness is Pets Naperville Protest Facebook Event Page

Click here for more information about Happiness is Pets
Published in Happiness is Pets

Jonathan Berning, son of Ron Berning, owner of HIP in Naperville, arrested and in squad car's back seat directly in front of HIP store.

CAPS member and protester Diane Arp was assaulted by Jonathan Berning during one of our protests at Happiness is Pets, a Chicago area-based chain owned by Ron Berning, the father of Jonathan. Police arrested Berning and Arp has pressed charges.

Publication/Event date: 2012-01-29

Publication name: Southtown Star

URL for more info:

Summary: Despite the frigid weather Sunday, things got a little heated during a protest outside an Orland Park pet shop.

While members of the Companion Animal Protection Society were protesting puppy sales outside Happiness Is Pets, 15647 S. 94th Ave., a woman got into an argument with a protester.

Related articles: Southtown Star: Owner’s son faces assault charge after pet shop protest in Orland Park CBS Chicago: Quarrel Nearly Leads To Arrests At Anti-Puppy Mill Protest

Southtown Star: Pet store protest heats up in Orland Park (Picture Gallery)
Published in Happiness is Pets
CAPS received a complaint this morning (02/01/12) from a Happiness is Pets customer whose dog, purchased for $1200 just over two weeks ago, had a runny nose and sneezing, which progressed to lack of appetite, bad diarrhea and extreme lethargy. The small Pomeranian's eye's are now so crusted open she can't open them. This morning she was barely moving. The HIP vet tested the dog for parvo and said there was nothing seriously wrong with the dog. CAPS President Deborah Howard called and emailed the customer and told her to take her dog to a decent vet immediately, which is where she is now. This sounds like another case of distemper.
Publication/Event date: 2012-01-30
Publication name:
Cindy Lu's Muse
URL for more info:
Happiness is Pets, a pet store chain in the Chicago suburbs, has long been known by many to sell puppies that often end up with health issues. This, of course, is not news - we know that puppies sold by pet stores can only come from one type of breeder, the horrid puppy mills. Making the news now, though, is a distemper outbreak that has been traced to this chain.

Related articles:

Published in Happiness is Pets

CAPS member and protester Dianne Arp was assaulted by Jonathan Berning during one of our protests at Happiness is Pets, a Chicago area-based chain owned by Ron Berning, the father of Jonathan. Police arrested Berning and Arp has pressed charges.

Happiness is Pets, a suburban Chicago pet shop chain is under fire after several puppies sold over the three months were diagnosed with distemper. The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) has been protesting the chain because of evidence that links them to puppy mills – commercial breeding facilities, mostly in the Midwest, that mass-produce dogs for resale. This highly preventable but contagious and usually deadly viral disease can show up in puppies from large-scale breeding facilities because of improper veterinary practices by puppy mill breeders and brokers.

“Quite often, puppy mill puppies are taken from the mother (instant weaning) and sold to a broker before they are vaccinated. Since any vaccine takes days to weeks to develop strong immunity, these pet store puppies are extremely vulnerable. The broker can’t be sure that the mother of the puppies has been properly vaccinated, and the broker only has the puppy in his or her possession for a few days before they are shipped out to stores. The true vaccination and de-worming history of a pet store puppy is, therefore, always in question,” said Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM and CAPS board member.

Two of the puppies purchased by consumers have died and one is still fighting for its life because of the deadly virus. The pups were traced to the Arlington Heights, Naperville, and Downers Grove pet store locations and were purchased in November, December and January. In one of the cases, the local vet – suggested by the pet store – was unconcerned by the dog's apparent discomfort but, after the owners decided to get a second opinion, the pup was diagnosed with distemper.

According to an article published in The Beacon News, the owner of the Happiness is Pets chain, Ronald Berning, said that they couldn't confirm the origin of the outbreak. He went on to say that “the likely source was a potential customer's own dog.” However, because the virus is preventable and most vets offer the vaccine at a relatively low cost, the theory is unlikely. A more reasonable explanation would be that the virus came from the puppy mills used by the chain.

“We've traced his (Ronald Berning's) puppies to {puppy mills.] So right then and there, he's not honest with his customers. There is a list a mile long now, and it's starting to grow, of people who have gotten sick puppies from anyone of his Happiness pet stores,” said Dianne Arp, CAPS member to the NBC affiliate in Chicago.

There are reports of dogs being picked up from puppy mills in Missouri, Iowa and Indiana by the pet shop's van. Since so many different puppy mills are used, there is no way to pin point where the infectious disease began. This means there are hundreds of dogs that could have been infected, transferred from store to store. All of the five locations are at risk of selling dogs with distemper.

“With ready availability and low cost of a simple 'distemper shot' vaccine, it is inexcusable for anyone breeding dogs to allow this disease to occur. It is the most basic preventive care given to a pet, and the deadliness of the disease makes vaccination an absolute must. Since it is highly contagious, puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated are highly susceptible. Raccoons can also carry the disease.If someone is breeding dogs to sell puppies, and has not vaccinated the mother on a regular basis, her puppies will be born with no 'passive immunity' against this disease. We begin vaccinating puppies at six to eight weeks of age, because this is when the mother’s temporary immunity begins to wear off,” said Dr. Allen.

Canine distemper is one of the most contagious viral diseases amongst dogs. The virus targets various organ systems simultaneously, adding to its severity. It is caused by a paramyxovirus, a type of virus that causes measles in humans and rinderpest in hoofed-animals such as cattle. Canine distemper affects dogs at any age.

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Distemper
Common symptoms are either gastrointestinal (such as vomiting, decrease in appetite, and diarrhea) or respiratory in nature (difficulty in breathing). Transient fever or dramatic and sporadic increases in body temperature is a telltale sign of the infection. Behavioral changes include lethargy, weakness, and depression. Neurological signs include muscle twitching, especially near the mouth and legs. Seizures and paralysis may occur in severe cases. Although rare, some dogs, mostly elderly, suffer from hardening of footpads and nose. Sudden death is not uncommon.

For the public in the Chicago area:

For more information and articles, visit CAPS' Happiness is Pets page

Happiness is NOT Pets Protest Facebook Event Page

Related Articles:

City Stir, Arlington Heights: Happiness is Pets = Some Unhappy Dog Owners

My Fox Chicago: Dog Owners Accuse 'Happiness is Pets' of Selling Puppy Mill Dogs

South Town Star: Pet store protest heats up in Orland Park

South Town Star: Owner’s son faces assault charge after pet shop protest in Orland Park

The Beacon News: Distemper traced to area pet shops Justice for Dakota – puppy with distemper fights for recovery

NBC Chicago: Distemper Cases Linked to Suburban Pet Stores Cindy Lu’s Muse: Happiness Is Pets Source of Distemper Outbreak

Cindy Lu’s Muse: Happiness is Pets – NOT

View February, 4 2012 Happiness is NOT Pets DEMO Album

What You Can Do:

CAPS needs your support to investigate the puppy mills that supply Happiness is Pets and to fund our protest efforts. We plan to continue our extremely important work -- but we simply cannot do this work without your help. With just over 7,000 members, we are very dependent on foundation funding, which is limited. It is difficult for us to compete with large nonprofits that can afford to mail as often as every month. Unlike the large organizations, we have no investments to fall back on.

Please help ensure that CAPS is there for companion animals – particularly those dogs suffering in pet shops and puppy mills – by giving as generous a donation as possible. Your help is vital. On behalf of all companion animals, CAPS thanks you for your compassion.

Published in Happiness is Pets
Monday, 06 February 2012 02:00

Happiness Is Pets - Violent Turn of Events

Publication/Event date: 2012-01-31
Publication name: Cindy Lu's Muse
URL for more info:
The Happiness Is Pets chain of stores in suburban Chicago continue to be under fire for having sold puppies with distemper. On Sunday, CAPS volunteers staged their usual demonstration in front of the Orland Park location. A series of unexpected events ensued

Happiness is Pets Sold Puppies with Canine Distemper
Happiness is Pets Information

For the public in the Chicago area:

Published in Happiness is Pets
Saturday, 11 February 2012 02:00

Demonstration at Happiness is Pets

WHO: CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society)
Demonstration at HIP store
WHERE: Happiness is Pets 15647 S. 94th Avenue Orland Park, IL 60462 (708) 403-3223
Saturday, February 11th ~ 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Bringing public awareness to the Distemper / Pet Store / Puppy Mill Connection
Talking with public and potential purchasers of puppies. Passing out informational packets to inform shoppers that they have a better option: adoption from a local shelter, a rescue or Organizers are hoping this demonstration will be less chaotic than the January 29th demonstration which ended in the store owner’s son, Jonathan Berning, being arrested for assaulting a woman.

For more information:
Contact Kristen Kaminski (CAPS Chicago Volunteer Coordinator) at 1-815-690-4996 Thank you for your time and consideration in attending and/or reporting on this important event.

Intimidation methods used to scare off demonstrators:

January 29, 2012: Jonathan Berning was arrested for assault (seen here in back seat of Orland Park police car) at the demonstration held last Sunday, January 29, 2012.

November 19, 2006: Jonathan Berning was seen here, attending the first demonstration held at the Warrenville HIP store (now closed). He walked directly up to demonstrators, filming with his camera in an attempt to intimidate.

July 1, 2008: After nearly 2 years of peaceful demonstrations held at the Warrenville HIP store, it CLOSED on July 1, 2008. The owner of the store, Ron Berning, had filed suit against three citizens of the town, shortly before Christmas in 2006, claiming libel, but later dropped the suit. The defendants and their lawyers believed it to be merely a scare tactic to discourage the demonstrators.


Related articles:
Published in Happiness is Pets

Customers take legal action with the help of CAPS, which continues to protest HIP stores and collect consumer complaints

CHICAGO, Ill. – A class action lawsuit was filed against Chicago area-based Happiness is Pets (HIP) on Valentine's Day. The story is unfolding quickly as more customers have come forward with complaints of sick puppies since the first cases of distemper were reported last month. With the help of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), six unsatisfied customers, so far, have decided to seek legal action against HIP's and store owner Ron Berning's deceptive and fraudulent practices.

The puppies sold at all five of the Happiness is Pets stores come from Midwest puppy mills - commercial breeding establishments that mass-produce puppies for resale to pet shops. CAPS has investigated some of these substandard USDA-licensed facilities before and the majority engaged in inhumane practices that violated Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations.

These puppies receive inadequate or sometimes no veterinary care, and typically live in filthy crowded cages with often dirty or insufficient water. Mothers are bred at every heat cycle. These puppies can carry a host of health problems that range from genetic ailments ­ due to inbreeding and poor screening of parents ­ to more severe and easily preventable viral diseases, like canine distemper.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Jane Clifford, claims the puppy she purchased from the HIP store in Arlington Heights showed signs of illness right away. Just one month after her purchase, the sick puppy required emergency room medical care. The dog was diagnosed with kennel cough, urinary tract infection, ear infection, breathing problems and general malaise. HIP typically buys directly from breeders (USDA “A” license) or brokers (USDA “B” license) who also breed and then transports them in their own truck to the stores. In this instance, HIP bought directly from a facility in Iowa that just brokers puppies.

Clifford’s paperwork had the breeder’s name but only the USDA license number and a post office box address for the broker. She was confused by this information and erroneously thought the broker had bred her puppy. CAPS examined her paperwork and explained the information. The October 2011 USDA inspection report for the Iowa breeder, who had 81 adults and 47 puppies, had three pages of violations. The inspection report cited a Pug with green crusty material around the eyes and Dog #163 with a mass the size of a baseball in the area of the right mammary gland.

The puppy belonging to plaintiff Stephanie Castillo was diagnosed with microvascular dysplasia, a disease passed on from one or both parents. According to the paperwork given to her by the HIP in Oak Lawn (now closed), the Iowa breeder, who had 90 adult dogs and 124 puppies at her USDA inspection in May 2011, was the same breeder linked to at least one of the distemper cases.

Bryan Phillips - who initially took his story to the media and was featured in several local news segments - bought his puppy at the Naperville store and has repeatedly spent thousands of dollars in veterinary care. Berning claimed that it was "an extremely isolated incident" and in turn blamed the outbreak on "a potential customer's own dog. Puppies get distemper because they don’t have passive immunity from their mothers. They are not safe from viral diseases, such as distemper until they receive the entire series of vaccinations. This means that the breeders supplying puppies to HIP are not properly vaccinating the mother dogs. Phillip’s dog came from the same breeder in Iowa that supplied Castillo’s puppy.

The stores purposely provide little information about the breeders and brokers, even to paying customers like Jessica Kernan - another plaintiff in the lawsuit. HIP in Arlington Heights refused to give Jessica any additional facts, even though she demanded more information about the breeder several times after her puppy was diagnosed with kennel cough and loss of appetite. The Iowa breeder for Kernan’s puppy had 110 adults and 24 puppies at the USDA inspection in October 2011. The June 2010 inspection report for this breeder stated that the feed pans had wet rain soaked feed with standing water in the receptacles.

Lissett Dzieglio and Mark Jillich purchased their puppy at the Naperville store. Within days, the puppy started showing pneumonia symptoms and was subsequently diagnosed with distemper. The June 2011 USDA inspection report for their puppy’s Missouri breeder, who had 93 adults and 30 puppies, had four pages of violations, including a Rottweiler with a swollen ear flap that was the size of a ping pong ball that that the licensee was unaware of and for which he had not consulted a veterinarian.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Clinton Law Firm in Chicago and seek a jury trial. It is important that any other person or persons in a similar situation come forward with their story. "We seek relief for all persons who were misled by Happiness is Pets as to the true health and breeding history of its puppies. This is the essence of the lawsuit," said attorney Stephanie A. Capps. We encourage anyone who has purchased a sick puppy from Happiness is Pets to first fill out the CAPS online complaint form at and to then call The Clinton Law Firm at 312-357-1515 or email attorney Stephanie Capps at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Founded by President Deborah Howard in 1992, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills. CAPS actively addresses the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance and pet industry employee relations.

Published in Happiness is Pets
Saturday, 25 February 2012 02:00

Illinois Dog Owners Sue Pet Store Chain

Publication/Event date: 2012-02-24
Publication name: ABC News
URL for more info:
Summary: Six pet owners have sued Happiness is Pets, a Chicago-based pet store accused of selling sick dogs purchased from puppy mills or breeding companies known to place profit before animal welfare. The pet owners "purchased puppies sold by Happiness which falsely represented that its puppies were healthy and came from private and reputable breeders," according to the complaint filed last week.

Related Articles
Courthouse News Service: Dog-Lovers Howl Over Alleged Puppy Mills
Naperville Sun:
Naperville attorney says Happiness Is Pets lawsuit has ‘no merit'
Chicago Tribune:
Lawsuit accuses Chicago-area chain of selling dogs from puppy mills Lawsuit accuses Happiness is Pets with consumer fraud
Dakota's story: Life continues in quarantine for distemper puppy
Cindy Lu's Muse:
Happiness is Pets Sued for Selling Sick Puppies

Published in Happiness is Pets
Sunday, 20 May 2012 03:00

Happiness is NOT Pets Demonstration

Who: Companion Animal Protection Society What: Peaceful demonstration When:

Orland Park, IL: Saturday, March 25, 2012 from 1:00 until 3:00pm. Naperville, IL: Sunday, March 26, 2012 from 12:00 until 2:00pm.

Where: Happiness is Pets, Orland Park, IL and Naperville, IL Why: Protect companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills. Prevent unknowing costumers from buying sick or dying puppy mill dogs. Educate the public about the horrors that take place in commercial breeding facilities. Directions Orland Park Facebook Event Page Naperville Facebook Event Page
Published in Happiness is Pets
Page 5 of 6

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Class Action Lawsuits

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If you purchased a sick or dying puppy from Barkworks or Happiness is Pets, you may be able to join consumer class action lawsuits. The first step is to fill out the CAPS complaint form.

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