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Over three days (October 29-31, 2012), an HSUS investigator and a local Chicago resident visited 12 Chicagoland pet stores to find out where the cute little puppies in the windows were bred. Again and again, salespeople denied that their puppies came from puppy mills, and most did not comply with a law passed in 2010 by the State requiring pet shops to “post in a conspicuous place in writing on or near the cage of any dog or cat available for sale the information required by subsection (a) of this section.” The information required includes the price, age, health and immunization history, and the name and address of the animal’s breeder.

HSUS researchers also reviewed hundreds of Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) documents obtained through the Illinois open records law, which show the origin of puppies shipped to Chicago-area pet stores. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports for the puppy breeders were then examined for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and Illinois Department of Agriculture files on the pet stores themselves, which include complaints from the public and state inspection reports, were also reviewed.