MOUNT GREENWOOD — Park Pet Shop is still selling puppies, but for how long depends on its ability to maintain a legal battle with the city.
The three-course meal that includes wine pairings will help to pay for the legal services provided by the Loop-based Gurney Patrick LLP. Attorney Sean P. Patrick did not return a phone call requesting further details of the suit.
But an online description of the fundraiser says the firm "filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago on February 16, 2015."
That lawsuit was filed just a couple of weeks before a ban on the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits went into effect throughout the city on March 5. Violators of the ordinance that was approved last year were subject to daily fines of $1,000.
The impetus for the "Puppy Mill Ban" was to discourage the sale of dogs who are bred in large quantities and under inhumane conditions. Aldermen, including Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th), also hoped the ban would lead to an increase in the adoption of animals from shelters.
But Jim Sparks Sr. and his son Jim Jr. of Park Pet Shop believe they have been unfairly vilified by the ordinance. They say their pet store exclusively resells animals from reputable breeders.
In the Sparks' eyes, the new law merely pushes customers to the suburbs or online where there's typically no regulation at all, while Park Pet Shop and other city pet stores must adhere to existing licensing and inspection requirements.
The lawsuit allowed Park Pet Shop to resume selling puppies after a monthlong layoff, Jim Sparks Sr. said. It took another month to rebuild the inventory, and bad publicity from the fallout with the city has also hurt the bottom line, he said.
"We are plugging along. Business has not been the best," said Jim Sparks Sr., who opened the store on the far Southwest Side in 1959.
A call to Pocket Puppies in Lincoln Park was referred to the owner, Lane Boron. He did not respond to an email or a message left with a clerk at the store.
Prior to the ban, Jim Sparks Jr. said the sale of puppies accounted for roughly 60 percent of business at Park Pet Shop. Then, he was selling about 12 dogs per month for upward of $1,500 each.
The Mount Greenwood pet store owners are convinced they have a valid argument to overturn the ordinance. Now it's just a matter of being able to afford to present their case to a judge.
"We'd love to have our day in court," Jim Sparks Sr. said.
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