An animal-welfare activist is making an issue of an instance in which a man was videotaped selling puppies out of the bed of his pickup truck this summer in downtown Elburn.
The puppy sale occurred in the parking lot of a restaurant, according to Elburn-area resident Steve Hindi, founder of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, which draws attention to incidents in which it believes animals are being abused.
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Hindi and several other SHARK members videotaped the sale and posted a video on SHARK's YouTube channel Oct. 25.
The video shows a man selling what appears to be Labrador retriever puppies from the back of a pickup truck in a restaurant's parking lot on the 200 block of South Main Street. The man, when asked his name, replies, "Don." The video was taken Aug. 10 and 17.
Hindi, who has contacted state officials about the matter, complains, too, that Elburn police handled the matter casually.
But Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said this week there was not much his department could have done about the puppy sale.
That's because the truck was parked on private property, and the man selling the puppies had the restaurant owner's permission to do so, according to an Aug. 10 police report.
That isn't the end of the matter, however.
On private property?
The owner of the restaurant called police Aug. 10 to complain about the videotaping, contending Hindi was on her property, but Hindi says he was in the public right of way.
Hindi pointed out that the pickup truck did not have a front license plate, which is required in Illinois, but the officer said he couldn't do anything because the truck was on private property, not on a public road. The driver of the truck, 67-year-old Crystal Gronskis of the 5N100 block of Hanson Road in St. Charles, received a warning ticket later that day for improper registration, when driving away from the restaurant.
Gronskis does not have a listed telephone number.
Hindi also photographed a temporary vehicle registration paper on the truck, which named Donald Tiffin, of the same address, as the truck's owner. He said there was a sign on the truck for "Sugar Bear Labs," with a non-working telephone number.
Hindi said he gave the name and number to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. They reported to him that the property appeared to be abandoned, he said.
Jeff Squibb, spokesman for the department, confirmed it is investigating Hindi's complaint and visited the address, but an investigator has been unable to reach Tiffin, who could not be reached for comment.
The video shows a man selling puppies for $400 apiece. The puppies are seen playing in the bed of the pickup truck on a piece of a cardboard, on which they had apparently urinated, according to the video.
Hindi said such pet sales attract impulse buyers who may be unprepared to provide proper care to the animals, or not know what the pet requires. Those pets may end up being abandoned or taken to animal shelters.
Hindi also claims buyers at the parking lot sale were not being provided with information about the puppies, such as records of vaccinations or other health matters. If a problem is later discovered with the dogs, there's no recourse for owners, who paid cash and have no paperwork proving who sold them the dog.
Squibb said Illinois requires people who have six or more breedable female dogs and who sell or give away puppies to be licensed. The licensee list on its website does not show any licensed dog dealers in St. Charles.
Elburn requires traveling merchants to obtain a $5 one-day license, or $50 30-day license. "That's the closest thing we have to something that may apply," Police Chief Smith said, but he is not sure it applies to vendors set up on private property.
"That is a gray area for us," he said. Smith said he has asked the village's attorney to research the matter.
Hindi said police had a "passe attitude" about the sale and wonders if the officer knew Tiffin. "He was very buddy-buddy with the police," Hindi said. The officer is seen shaking hands with the man.
Smith said he didn't know if the officer knew the man but said the handshake was part of the officer introducing himself, and that he encourages his officers to be "evenhanded" in dealing with the public.
Hindi said a reputable breeder would want to know what kind of home their puppy is going to. State law requires dog dealers to provide medical records to the dog's new owners and outlines recourse if the animal has problems.
"But some clown selling out of the back of a pickup truck," Hindi said, "this is not responsible."