Consumers in Illinois may soon have stronger recourse if they purchase sick or genetically defective puppies. On Wednesday, Illinois’ Senate Labor and Commerce Committee will hear the first reading of the so called “puppy lemon law” in Springfield. If passed, the puppy lemon law would provide consumers more protection when purchasing pets from pet stores.
The proposed bill would allow consumers to seek a refund, replacement and/or reimbursement of necessary veterinary costs if they purchased an animal with an undisclosed disease or illness while allowing sellers to contest the remedy. The puppy lemon law would also require pet shops to notify customers and the state veterinarian of any significant outbreak of contagious diseases.
Consumer support is strongly needed to keep the puppy lemon law moving forward because powerful lobbying groups such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and PIJAC are weighing in on this bill.
Illinois, pet stores are required to disclose certain information about a pet’s health history to customers. Although pet sellers must disclose information, consumers really don’t have much recourse under current law if they purchase sick animals unknowingly from pet stores or online.
There are currently 17 states that have pet lemon laws. This new law would add Illinois to that list. About 99 percent of the dogs sold in pet stores come from large-scale commercial breeding operations known as puppy mills. Some of the documented problems include overbreeding, inbreeding, minimum veterinary care and the lack of monitoring of other health issues.
“Because of these poor breeding situations, pets sold in pet stores are often sick and have other long-term health issues,” according to The Puppy Mill Project, an advocacy group that educates consumer about puppy mills and their connection to dogs sold in pet stores and online. Consumers often don’t find out about serious problems until after they’re facing large veterinary bills to correct the problem or worse.
Just last year, an outbreak of canine distemper was traced directly to the Chicago-area pet chain Happiness is Pets. The stores continued to sell puppies to the public during the outbreak without warning buyers that their puppies may have been exposed to the disease.
Over a two month period, ten confirmed cases of canine distemper were discovered in puppies purchased from the Happiness is Pets chain of stores. While distemper is not contagious to humans, it is highly contagious among dogs and most of the infected puppies died. Prior to this outbreak, canine distemper had nearly been eradicated in most parts of Illinois.
To show your support, contact one of the committee members on the list below. All you need to say is "I am an Illinois resident and I am calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB1639, the Puppy Lemon Law.”
- Gary Forby - 59th District - 217-782-5509
- Linda Holmes - 42nd District - 217-782-0422
- Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant - 49th District - 217-782-0052
- Thomas Cullerton - 23rd District - 217-782-9463
- Bill Cunningham - 18th District - 217-782-5145
- Napoleon Harris III - 15th District - 217-782-8066
- Toi Hutchinson - 40th District - 217-782-7419
- Steven Landek - 12th District - 217-782-0054
- Iris Martinez - 20th District - 217-782-8191
- Kwame Raoul - 13th District - 217-782-5338
- Patricia Van Pelt - 5th District - 217-782-6252
- Jim Oberweis - 25th District - 217-782-0471
- Pamela Althoff - 32nd District - 217-782-8000
- Michael Connelly - 21st District - 217-782-8192
- Kyle McCarter - 54th District - 217-782-5755
Time is of the essence because the committee convenes at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
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