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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 petfinders.com 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 www.caps-web.org 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
Examiner.com: 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
Thursday, 31 December 2009 19:00

Happiness is Pets

Happiness is Pets

Happiness is Pets (HIP) is a chain with five stores in the Chicago area with more than 25 years of selling puppy mill dogs. CAPS is currently sponsoring regular protests in two of their locations and working with a Chicago law firm on a consumer class action lawsuit. CAPS has received numerous complaints through our online complaint form from customers who purchased sick and dying puppies.

Thanks to the CAPS team in Chicago, we continue to get media coverage and expose HIP as a puppy mill front (the company transports puppies from Iowa and Missouri mills and for the most part, HIP does its own brokering). The distemper outbreak linked to HIP, which received extensive media coverage, is yet another example of how businesses like these are not only inhumane but also detrimental to the community.  CAPS has investigated many of the breeders and brokers supplying puppies to HIP.

If you purchased a sick puppy from Happiness is Pets and would like to join the class action lawsuit, please fill out our pet shop complaint form.

CAPS Complaint Form


Tuesday, 03 July 2012 18:46

Happiness is NOT Pets Protest

CAPS would like to thank all the demonstrators working hard on an almost weekly basis to SHUT DOWN Happiness is Pets in the Lombard, IL and Orland Park, IL locations. 
Keep up PAWSOME work!
Published in CAPS News
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 03:00

Happiness is Not Pets Protest

Saturday, June 30, 2012 from 1:00pm until 3:00pm in CDT
Happiness Is Pets VI
616 E Roosevelt Rd, Lombard, IL 60148-4741 (map)

Facebook Event Page

Published in CAPS News
Publication/Event date: 2012-04-10
Publication name:
Naperville Sun
URL for more info:
Summary: The attorney representing Happiness Is Pets has filed a motion for dismissal of the class action suit alleging the pet store chain misled the purchasers of puppies that turned out to have serious health issues. Continue reading…

Happiness is Pets Class Action Lawsuit Facebook page
Published in CAPS News
Page 5 of 5

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Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard

Learn more about Deborah Howard, president and founder of Companion Animal Protection Society.

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Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS)
759 CJC Hwy., #332
Cohasset, MA 02025
p: 339-309-0272
501 (c)(3) Tax ID#: 58-2040413

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Class Action Lawsuits

scales of justice

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.

Read more about Happiness is Pets or Barkworks.

CAPS Complaint Form