Vernon Hills officials give pet store plan chilly reception

  • Petland got a cool reception from Vernon Hills trustees for a proposal to open a store at 445 Townline Road, replacing a mattress store.

      Petland got a cool reception from Vernon Hills trustees for a proposal to open a store at 445 Townline Road, replacing a mattress store. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Posted9/24/2018 5:30 AM

A proposal to open a Petland store which specializes in selling puppies has received a cool reception from Vernon Hills trustees.

The village board last week heard a proposal for the store in the soon-to-be-vacant Mattress Firm space at 445 Townline Road (Route 60). The 5,000-square-foot storefront is in an outlot of the Townline Commons shopping center and adjacent to the Corner Bakery Cafe and AT&T store.


Trustees questioned several aspects of the operation, including the proposed location near two restaurants. After a 30-minute discussion at the informal committee-of-the-whole meeting, the request was continued until Oct. 17.

"There was more information trustees were interested in seeing," Assistant Village Manager Joe Carey said.

A special-use permit is required to allow a pet store at the location and company representatives were making an initial pitch to village leaders.

Whether the village wants that type of business remains to be seen.

"We've got to get over the hurdle, though, of 'Do we want a true pet store in town?'" said Mayor Roger Byrne.

According to information provided to the village, the store would have 24 puppy kennels and one cat kennel. Each kennel would hold three small-breed or two large-breed puppies, and the cat kennel could hold three to five kittens.

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Parakeets, cockatiels, rabbits, dwarf hamsters, ferrets and other small animals also would be offered.

The store would be part of a franchise that has other locations in Chicago Ridge and Naperville owned by Carl Swanson, who also is president of the Illinois Pet Lovers Association, a group of pet store owners and industry partners.

He said the group backed the Safe Pets Bill, signed into law in August 2017, to ensure puppy mills are not able to do business with pet stores in Illinois.

The law requires statewide health and safety standards for the pet store industry. Swanson said Petland breeders are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state, American Kennel Club and others.

"The vast majority of breeders do not meet our standards," he said.

The average price of puppies would range from $2,200 to $2,600, depending on the breed and its popularity, added Swanson's business partner, Ryan Hamel.


"We buy the best puppies from the best breeders at the highest prices you'll ever think of," he said.

Trustee Craig Takaoka noted "some issues" the company had several years ago getting puppies from questionable sources and said he was concerned the business would be near two restaurants.

Hamel said any issues have long been cleared up. A Google search of Petland would show negative articles, he added, "because there are a lot of people who don't think what we do is right and I understand that."

Swanson said the mayors of Naperville and Chicago Ridge, as well as representatives from the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, are willing to be contacted for references.

This isn't the first time a proposed Petland has received a cool reception from Vernon Hills leaders. The village board in 2004 denied a Petland proposal by different operators in a different location. Trustees said it was undesirable and unnecessary given the proposed location adjacent to restaurants and retail businesses, Carey said.

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