Report by Donna Joyce, photos courtesy Mrs. John Bass
In the quiet evening of December 23, 2014, a Marine Corps veteran named John Bass and his family were preparing for a happy Christmas celebration at their Waukegan, Illinois home. The children were looking forward to opening their presents, and the refrigerator held delicious holiday foods. Their female Olde English Bulldogge Lola was sleeping peacefully, surrounded by 8 of the 10 healthy puppies she had birthed 6 weeks ago.
This was the Bass’s only litter of 2014. Earlier that afternoon, they had taken all ten puppies to the vet for their certifications of health and first shots. The vet had pronounced them all very healthy, and even stated that two could go to their new homes that day. Shortly after the New Year, the remaining puppies would be leaving. One little girl had yet to find her new family.
Possibly, that might change soon, Mr. Bass thought. He was downstairs waiting for a prospective buyer named Alyssa Finkel. She was very eager to buy the remaining pup and had insisted on coming over that evening. He picked up the sale contract he required puppy buyers to sign and placed it next to copies of the puppy’s veterinary health certificate and proof of vaccination. All buyers were expected to submit to a thorough verification process and a home visit, to ensure that they would be worthy homes. He waited, idly petting Lola and her pups.
The doorbell rang upstairs. Mrs. Bass opened the door. Two women entered.
Two hours later Mr. Bass was at the Lake County Jail. Lola, left alone at home, bewildered by the presence of so many loud strangers in her home, was fretting nervously about the sudden disappearance of her 8 puppies. She was not confiscated along with her puppies only because “there was no legal way to impound the adult dog,” according to Waukegan Police Sgt. Cory Kelly, who engineered the raid.
While the Bass family agonized at the jail, the puppies were on a 70 mile journey three counties south, where a year-old Joliet-based rescue group called Wags 2 Wishes (W2W) quickly offered them for sale at $400 on their website and Facebook page as “saved from a breeder.” The W2W rescue group also asked for donations for veterinary care for the pups. They were either unaware of, or ignoring the fact that the pups had been pronounced very healthy by the Bass’s vet earlier that same day. Dozens of prospective buyers quickly responded. The price was allegedly increased to $600.