Buyer Beware: Little Paw Animal “Rescue”

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©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 

In recent years, advocates across the country have been pushing for stronger regulation regarding puppy mill sales in their cities and states. These humane ordinances are being worked on in nearly every state across the country and they explicitly prevent pet stores from partnering with puppy mills or puppy mill brokers for puppy and kitten sales. 

The most recent state to pass legislation like this was Illinois. The bill passed in May 2021 and was signed into law in August 2021. The stores have 180 days to transition to a humane pet store model and partner with legitimate shelters or rescues for pet adoptions or they will be forced to close their doors. As you can imagine, the 20 or so pet stores in Illinois were not happy. They spent exorbitant amounts of money on lobbyists and advertising to get this bill defeated and later vetoed but in the end, the public support for this won out. The bill was signed into law. 

At present, several pet stores have already opened locations in the state of Indiana and others are looking to relocate to Wisconsin. One pet store owner, who has been at the center of controversy for years, has a different plan.

Lane Boron of Pocket Puppies (Chicago and Arlington Heights) is looking to be the next ‘rescue’ in the nationwide puppy laundering scheme that has already been exposed and litigated in numerous states. Boron has been a key player in the sham rescue world since its inception. 

When Chicago passed a humane ordinance in 2014, Boron first sued the city, lost the suit, and then partnered with his longtime puppy supplier, JAKS Puppies in Iowa, to start the country’s first ever shame rescue. Without going too into detail, Hobo K9 was immediately discovered as a front for JAKS and after our reporting and subsequent lawsuit in California and an expose by the Chicago Tribune. Both of the fake rescues set up by JAKS were shut down and fined by the Iowa Attorney General in 2020 and were forbidden from reopening another nonprofit rescue. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks to learn more about that story. 

Once Hobo K9 and Rescue Pets Iowa shuttered their doors, Pocket Puppies proceeded to just sell directly from puppy mills and ignore the stronger city ordinance that was passed in Chicago this year. The visits from Chicago Animal Care and Control resulted in 37 violations and thousands of dollars in fines. Each violation reportedly carries a fine from $500 to $1,000. Additional fines were filed by the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Boron finally shut his pet store doors and was looking for a new opportunity. 


Sham Rescue: Little Paw Rescue Foundation

Lane Boron had already secured his sham rescue name and license number in 2018, just in case he needed to rely on it. To our knowledge, his rescue was never actually used and it is currently ‘not in good standing’ with the State of Illinois. Fast forward to August 2021, the time has come for Lane to become a rescue fully and continue selling puppies from commercial breeders. 

Pocket Puppies has always had a second location in Arlington, Heights (1457 E. Palatine Rd.) which sold puppies from commercial breeders, like his Chicago location. Now that the state of Illinois has passed this bill, Boron has approached the Arlington Heights city council and Planning Commission in order to have his business be recognized as a rescue. Except Boron has no plans to actually help homeless animals. 

How do we know that he plans running his rescue the same way that he did his store?

From his own words, of course!

Below is the correspondence Boron sent to the commission to describe his business model. As you can see from the highlighted areas, Boron plans to source exclusively from ‘transport companies’ and will not be taking in owner surrenders. As you know, transport companies are not sources for animals. This is Lane Boron’s personal loophole to the state bill. He isn’t sourcing from commercial breeders or commercial brokers- instead he will be sourcing directly from the transport vans that deliver those commercially bred puppies from stores. This information can be independently verified through the Arlington Heights Website. 


According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture Pocket Puppies sourced their puppies from the following facilities in 2020 and 2021:

  • Alisa Breedlove, Breedlove’s Unique Kennel. Waynesville, Missouri- 119 adult breeding dogs and 56 puppies.
  • Barbara Poor, B&J Kennels. Novelty, Missouri- a puppy broker with 19 adult breeding dogs on their property. 
  • Bob Mackey, TLC Breeds. Sayre, Oklahoma- 253 adult breeding dogs and 82 puppies. 
  • Brittani and Jesse Hedgpeth, Empire Pets. Iberia, Missouri- 31 adult breeding dogs. The Hedgbeths also own a transport company, Transport Central, with Josh and Kallie Bateman. The Batemans have been named one of the worst puppy mill transport companies in the country twice due to violations. Hedgpeth is also related to Allison Hedgbeth who operates the sham rescue “Mother Dog Rescue” in Iberia, Missouri. 
  • Debra Marris. Okemah, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Dorace Burton, Grace Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 37 adult breeding dogs and 34 puppies. 
  • June Kaiser, Doggies Down Under Kennel. Brumley, Missouri- 69 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Kim Gray. Lebanon, Missouri- 5 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Larry Harris- Keota, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Marcee Bryant and John Bryant, Puppy Junction. Seneca, Missouri- 93 adult breeding dogs and 30 puppies. This facility skipped their 2021 USDA inspection. 
  • Pam Owen. Lebanon, Missouri- 57 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Pauline Thomas, Nature’s Best Pet Shop. Lebanon, Missouri- 13 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Rhonda Pope, Pope Kennel. Freeburg, Missouri- 109 adult breeding dogs and 55 puppies. 
  • Sherri Gillum, Lakeview Kennels. Unionville, Missouri- 42 adult breeding dogs and 27 puppies. 
  • Susie Reid, Cedar Woods Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 56 adult breeding dogs and 28 puppies. 

Clearly, several of the facilities currently supplying Pocket Puppies appear to be large commercial breeders and not rescues. It is also very concerning that one of the facilities (Empire Pets) also owns a transport company and has ties to a fake rescue. 

What can you do? 

Right now we need advocates to contact the Arlington Heights City Council as well as the Arlington Heights Planning and Community Development Committee and politely urge them to not allow this sham operation to begin business in clear defiance of the state bill. 

Planning and Community Development Director: 

Charles Perkins:, 847.368.5200

Arlington Heights Village Board:

Fill out this online form.  

You can also file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and share this information with them. 

As always, we will continue monitoring this situation and will be working behind the scenes to make sure this pet store is not allowed to operate a sham rescue in the state of Illinois. 

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 


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