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Animal activist decries puppy sale from pickup truck

People are seen gathering around the back of a pickup truck in Elburn, where labrador puppies were being sold.
People are seen gathering around the back of a pickup truck in Elburn, where labrador puppies were being sold.

ELBURN – A man who was selling labrador puppies from the back of a pickup truck in Elburn stirred the ire of a local animal rights activist, who urged people not to patronize such an endeavor, calling it cruel and “grossly irresponsible.”

“It is grossly irresponsible to put a bunch of puppies in the back of pickup a truck and sell them to anyone walking by,” said Steve Hindi, president of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness – SHARK – and an Elburn resident. 

He said the cruelty aspect goes beyond puppies rolling around in the back of a truck, but that buyers were not properly screened before being sold a puppy, and he said the man selling them offered no information about the animals, such as their breeding or shots.

The incident occurred Aug. 10 on Route 47 on the parkway in Elburn. Hindi said his video of the puppy sales was being released now because the animal rights group just returned from out of town after filming it.

According to Elburn police reports, Hindi filmed the sales while his daughter called police because the truck did not have a front license plate as required by law. 

The dog seller was identified in police reports as Donald L. Tiffin, 51, and his companion and owner of the truck, Crystal P. Gronskis, 67, both of the 5N100 block of Hanson Road in Campton Township near Lily Lake.

Police issued Gronskis a written warning for not having a front license plate. On a subsequent weekend of selling puppies Aug. 17, the truck had a temporary license listing the Hanson Road property as its registration, according to photos Hindi took.

The Hanson Road property was vacant, and neither Tiffin nor Gronskis have listed phone numbers. They could not be reached for comment. 

While selling puppies is not illegal, Hindi said buying one – even for the $400 in cash Tiffin was charging – is an impulse buy that often results in an unwanted pet that becomes the responsibility of shelters and rescues to find them homes.

“The problem is, everybody loves puppies,” Hindi said. “These dogs certainly should not be an impulse buy. You have to plan for a puppy. They need to be trained, get shots, see the vet, cared for, walked – these are all the reasons you don’t impulse-buy an animal.”

Hindi’s video shows a company name on the side of the truck, Sugar Bear Lab Retrievers with a phone number. The phone number is disconnected, and the company is not listed with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Hindi’s video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7slIqdIb58.

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