Pet store owner awarded for saving animals

When Greg Gordon made the decision to adopt out rescued animals from his pet store, Dog Patch Pet and Feed, he never could have imagined the impact his change would make on the homeless animals in his community – or how his business would improve in the process.

Dog Patch Pet and Feed, the oldest pet store in Naperville, Ill., sold its last puppy in January 2012. Since then, Dog Patch only houses and adopts out rescued dogs and cats.

Before Gordon made the switch from selling dogs to adopting them out, The Puppy Mill Project was often found protesting outside of Gordon’s store. But now, the organization is honoring Gordon for his positive efforts.

The Puppy Mill Project, a group dedicated to spreading the word about the poor conditions dogs endure at commercial breeding facilities, has announced that they will present Gordon with the Kindness to Animals Award.

“We have been working with pet stores for them to go humane – to stop selling dogs and opting to adopt out instead,” says the organization’s founder, Cari Meyers. “Greg is a great example of how stores can make a successful transition.”

After making the switch to rescue animals, Gordon has partnered with Annie’s Little Angels Small Breed Dog and Cat Rescue, or ALA. Brandy Gergescz, who runs the organization, pulls dogs and cats that are at risk from high-kill Chicagoland shelters and brings them to Gordon’s store.

The partnership has proved fruitful; since ALA and Dog Patch teamed up, ALA has more than doubled the amount of animals they are able to pull from local shelters.

“It’s important to network, let folks know what you are up to, to let go of any past battles and engage and focus on what they can do,” Gordon advises.

“This is probably the best decision I could have made,” Gordon says of his store’s transition. The business at Dog Patch is booming, and he is excited to find homes for rescued animals. “We are thrilled to see our own progress as we figure this out. We have saved many lives.”

Gordon will receive the Kindness to Animals award at the second annual “Mothers in the Mills” event, a benefit and night of remembrance for the mother dogs often left behind to suffer at puppy mills. This year’s benefit will take place on May 12, the night before Mother’s Day, at the LaSalle Power Company in Chicago. Tickets are still available.

Gordon feels honored to have been chosen for this year’s award, but credits Gergescz and his staff, trainer, and veterinarian for their roles. “I’m thrilled, but feel sheepish about it,” Gordon says. “I hope that the award will create awareness of what we are up to and we can save more lives.”