If you're looking to add a new four legged friend to your family, you'll have to decide on a breed, it's name. and where you will get him or her from. A group of protesters in Rockford hope you'll consider adopting from a shelter.
'Adopt, don't shop' was the chant of choice for the nearly 50 ralliers who spent the afternoon picketing in front of CherryVale Mall. They called for a boycott of area pet stores, claiming their animals come from puppy mills.
"I don't go in the mall anymore. Ever since they allowed Furry Babies to open up, I have refused to enter CherryVale Mall," says Kathy Mehalko, a protester. Mehalko and her nonprofit Angels for Animals helped organize the rally. She says its goal is to bring awareness to the community about the alternatives to shopping at a pet store.
"You can get a good dog at the shelter or at other rescue organizations. you don't have to support puppy mills to get a good dog," Mehalko says.
Take Sophie for example. The 10 year old beagle mix was surrendered after her elderly owner moved into a nursing home. Her foster parent, Kathi Poff brought the dog with her to the rally as an ambassador for shelter adoptions.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's not the dog's fault it's in the pound, it's just human circumstance," says Poff. "Sometimes people move out of state and can't take their pet with them."
Another protester, Lori Piper adds, "Unfortunately I don't think people realize that pet stores buy from puppy mills where they're churning out thousands and thousands and thousands of puppies every year. And that's one side of it, the other side is while we're breeding more and more and more dogs and cats, the shelters and rescues are just full."
To spread the word, the protesters waved signs and encouraged passing cars to honk in support.
"It's been gratifying to have so many people support us and honk and wave," says Piper.
The protesters also say they hope to one day see pet stores sell rescued dogs to their customers. We contacted both Petland and Furry Babies to see if they would want to comment on today's protest, but they declined.
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