|Barked: Mon Feb 3, '14 2:12pm PST |
From the desk of Rich Christakes;
I have been with Alsip Home & Nursery for some time now. I am a certified Horticulturist (plant geek) and I have been based out of our Saint John, IN store since 2002 and was always heavily involved with the greenhouse part of the business and didn’t know much about Pets.
In July of 2011, I was promoted to Store Manager of the Saint John location. It was at that time that I had to familiarize myself with all of the offerings in our stores and that included puppies. People started to bring to my attention information about puppy mills. I was intrigued and was all ears. As a business leader, integrity always comes first. Without that, business means nothing. Sandy Richwalski, (our Pet department manager at the Saint John store) and I engaged in many conversations about the origins of puppies. We decided that we would try our hand at puppy rescues through our Saint John store. We successfully paired our first rescue with a family in late 2011. In 2012, we got the word out and aggressively pursued finding dogs that needed to be rescued and found homes for them. We didn’t stop there with the good will and community outreach. Since that time, we have sponsored 6 canine unit police dogs including a bomb squad dog. We provide all of these dogs food and provide free grooming service for them. We also began sponsoring CCI dogs. CCI is Canine Companions for Independents. These are dogs that help people with special needs. They are specially trained and we are very honored to sponsor these dogs. I was already working us toward a goal, one that was completely humane. No brokers. No private breeders. No buying dogs.
Just before the year end of 2012, I was named CEO of the company and became a co-owner. At this point, I already had a goal in mind for where we needed to be, ethically and morally. My first order of business was to get a rescue program going at the Frankfort store as well. That has been slow to take off because groups out there were not as willing to work with us unless we didn’t buy anymore dogs period which we weren’t ready to do until more recently, lining up sources of puppy rescues and working with Dr. Coyne to open a veterinary clinic inside of our Frankfort store. .Since that first rescue in late 2011, we have successfully rescued over 100 dogs through our Saint John store including my own dog, Gus. He was originally rescued from Lake County Animal Shelter and then his original adoptive family could not take care of him. They heard that Alsip Nursery in Saint John had a rescue program and he was dropped off there. My wife, kids and I, instantly fell in love with him. As the saying goes, he rescued us. At this point my passion for this cause grew even stronger.
We in the past were buying puppies from local hobby breeders and buying puppies through brokers. When asked about puppy mills, our response was, that we were only using brokerage services which was true, but to me, this was not good enough. There is no guarantee that those brokers are not getting puppies from a mill. I believed that over time we could evolve our business into rescue only and find good homes for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens that needed one.
Since late 2013, the Frankfort store has now done over a dozen rescues and we are building larger dog runs to accommodate for adult rescue dogs, amongst others. In 2013, Alsip Home & Nursery held our first rescue event teaming up with rescue organizations including “I Wanna Go Home”. I was met with gratitude and felt a sense of satisfaction that is hard to compare to. We are primarily a garden center. That is the core of our business. I believe that we can be very successful in business without buying dogs from anyone or any place and can do something great and meaningful. I am very pleased to announce that we are going full rescue and will NOT be buying dogs at all at any Alsip Nursery location, even from local hobby breeders. We are going to 100% rescue. During all of this time in the last 3 years that I have had much more say and now complete leadership of our company, we partnered with a well known veterinarian from the area, Dr. John Coyne. Dr. Coyne, Sandy and I have worked towards getting Alsip Nursery to a place where we can shift our business model to be rescue only. All dogs and cats that we bring in to find adoptive homes will be spayed or neutered by Dr. Coyne’s team of veterinarians and will also be micro chipped. We have reached out to the Humane Society of the United States amongst others and have received their blessing and endorsement. Not only that, they are going to help us locate rescues. We have been in contact with several rescue organizations that are already helping us locate rescue animals and so that we can help them use our resources to find homes for these animals that need it most. We will be holding rescue events monthly going forward.
This change is very exciting. We have tapped into the massive rescue network that is out there and we have gone in head first. The outpouring of public support and praise is continuing to grow and we are excited to be able to positively affect and lower the number of animals being euthanized and give even more dogs and cats a shot at finding a great home where they will be loved. We also hope that stores that continue to buy dogs and cats instead of rescue will follow our lead.
Okay, great and all, but I've read through several bits, and nowhere do they say where they're getting these pups. They keep saying rescue, but they're known for playing with words to not admit any wrongdoing. Anybody know anymore details?
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