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CAPS group says it will keep on protesting pet store

CAPS and community  members, shown Feb. 4, have been protesting an area pet store since November. (photo submitted by CAPS)

CAPS and community members, shown Feb. 4, have been protesting an area pet store since November. (photo submitted by CAPS)

Whether it’s freezing and snowy or hot and humid, Kristen Kaminski said she is not going away.

Kaminski and her group, the Companion Animal Protection Society, has been hosting demonstrations outside the Orland Park Happiness Is Pets store on the 15600 block of South 94th Avenue periodically on weekends since November.

Group officials say that dogs from the store’s chain come from “puppy mills,” which leave many dogs with health and behavioral problems. In recent weeks, the Humane Society of the United States reported confirmation of two cases of distemper in puppies purchased from Happiness Is Pets stores in Naperville and Downers Grove.

Kaminski, of Manteno, said she bought a toy poodle, Roxy, two years ago from the Orland Park store and is worried that because of genetics, her dog could develop illness or die. Her group plans to continue the weekend picketing – including a demonstration Saturday at 1 p.m. on the sidewalk off the store’s property.

“We’ve had eight or nine demonstrations,” she said. “And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. It would be great if they went humane but from what I’ve seen, that doesn’t seem possible. So I’m not going to stop until they are gone.”

Happiness Is Pets owner Ronald Berning did not return a message left at the Orland Park store seeking comment.

CAPS members have also picketed stores in some of the chain’s other locations.
Kaminski said she has had anywhere from 10 to 25 people join her and, for the most part, the demonstrations have been peaceful.

But things got heated Jan. 29 when Jonathan Berning of Lemont, owner Ronald Berning’s son, was arrested for simple assault after he allegedly confronted one of the protesters, Diana Arp.

He is scheduled to appear at the Bridgeview Courthouse Feb. 15.

Orland Park Police Cmdr. John Keating said an officer on the scene witnessed Berning run at the 46-year-old woman, point his finger inches from her face and yell at her in a “threatening and aggressive” manner.

Keating said the CAPS members were protesting peacefully – and legally – in the public right of way at the time. He said he had “no idea why” the younger Berning confronted Arp during the Orland Park Protest. “She was just one of the protesters,” he said.

Arp said protests have played a key role in shutting down a Happiness is Pets store in Oak Lawn and reducing profits at his other stores.

Kaminski said there were no incidents at a Feb. 4 demonstration.

According to the store’s website, the Better Business Bureau gives the Happiness Is Pets chain an A+. There is also a section on the website that features close to 100 testimonials about the store.

Orland Park Public Information Director Joe LaMargo said municipal electronic business records show the Orland Park Happiness Is Pets store has been operating since 1994.

– Dennis Sullivan contributed to this report
















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