Chicago is very close to making a bold move that will slam the door on the mass delivery of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats throughout the city. A proposed Companion Animal Protection Ordinance will ban the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores. But, will this new ordinance open the door for bad, out-of-state breeders? Will it take away a pet lover’s chance to choose the pure breed of their choice?
Of course not, on both counts.
As we move closer to a hearing by the city council committee considering the ban on Wednesday, February 26, the opposition is winding up and starting their campaign in hopes of derailing the ordinance…and their campaign is filled with a lot of scare tactics and misinformation.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council or PIJAC is an organization that lobbies and does battle on behalf of certain factions of the pet industry. Right now in Chicago, their goal is to support the right of the 16 pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to continue to do that. They’d love nothing more than to defeat the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance and protect the huge profits being made by a few pet stores that support animal cruelty by selling puppy mill dogs.
Here’s a look at what they’d like you to believe and reality.
Nothing is further from the truth. If you don’t want to go the rescue route, you can still get your Shih Tzu or Persian through a respectable breeder just like you can now. You’ll just have to be more diligent and do your own extensive research. You just won’t be able to run to the pet store for an impulse purchase of a pet.
Actually, as of September of last year, breeders that sell on the Internet face the same scrutiny as all other breeders licensed under the USDA thanks to a change in the Animal Welfare Act (see story).
Chicago pet stores are trying to avoid bad, out-of-state breeders? Really?
That isn’t what USDA records show.
In Chicago, those records reveal something interesting. Yes, the stores are regulated and they are only to sell puppies and kittens from USDA-regulated commercial breeders...even that doesn't happen all the time.
Here’s the deal, the breeders supplying Chicago Pet Stores are all from out of state and most of those breeders have spotty records at best. Some are even harder to track since many stores use brokers like J.A.K'S Puppies, Inc. and Oleo Acres – you won’t see breeder violations there since they are just delivering the product to the stores from the actual puppy mills.
Let’s take a look at where Chicago’s pet store puppies come from –
Pocket Puppies – 2479 N. Clark – According to USDA records and an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, all their puppies come from puppy mills in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. And, all of those breeders have a long list of violations for poor care and treatment of dogs on repeated USDA checks of the operations.
Hug-A-Pup – 4950 W. Irving Park Rd – The origins of the puppies in this store are very questionable. According to the same HSUS report, Certificates of Veterinary Inspection found at this store show that the store appears to be purchasing dogs from unlicensed breeders in Indiana. None of the breeders listed appeared in USDA data bases and most of the breeders appeared to be Amish breeders.
Top Dog’s Puppy Store – 6919 W. Grand Avenue – Documentation shows the dogs all come from a USDA licensed breeder in Indiana.
Puppies R Us – 3404 N. Ashland Avenue – According to USDA records, dogs come from Indiana breeders with a long history of violating the Animal Welfare Act.
Pet Luv Center – 8057 S. Cicero Avenue – According to the HSUS report, this store claims to only work with reputable breeders, but works instead with some of Iowa’s largest puppy brokers. One of them is J.A.K. Puppies that brings in dogs from Wanda Kretzman/Clearwater Kennel in Minnesota, a kennel rife with violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Collar & Leash – The oldest pet store in Chicago, partnering with The Puppy Mill Project, was the first Chicago pet store to go humane. Several months after the transition, Collar & Leash decided to concentrate solely on their boarding and grooming facility on Columbus Avenue due to the owner's poor health and closed their store.
Many of the stores claim that they use small, reputable breeders. In reality, good breeders don’t sell through pet stores because they value their business and want control over who purchases their dogs.
The ordinance will force stores that want to deal in dogs and cats to move to an adoption model with shelters, rescues or animal controls – a move done successfully by Dog Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville and Wilmette Pet. In fact, most Chicago pet stores don’t sell dogs and cats and work instead with rescues.
But won’t that put pet stores out of business?
Stores that sell dogs and cats do make a lot of money on the sale of pets. However, it’s only a small piece of the pie nationally. The pet industry in itself is huge business in America – the American Pet Products Association (APPA) tracked spending on our pets at $55.5 billion last year alone. As these stores and their lobbying group PIJAC battle the ban, it’s a bit more interesting to see how our spending breaks out – consumers spend $21.26 billion on pet food and treats; $13.21 on supplies and over-the-counter medications; $14.21 billion on Vet Care and just $2.31 billion on the purchase of live animals.
Stopping the sale of pets won’t put these stores out of business…they just need to adjust their business model like all small businesses do on a routine basis. To date, 47 of 50 aldermen in Chicago have signed on to support the ordinance and the committee debate is set for Wednesday, February 26. The full council votes on Tuesday, March 5. If you’d like to support the ordinance, go online to sign the petition.
My previous story about the measure is here and a story about pet stores going humane is here. You can also check out my fellow ChicagoNow blogger Steve Dale's latest post on the issue here. He also supports the ordinance and will have Alderman James Cappleman on his WGN Radio Show, Sunday February 23, 6:35 a.m. City Clerk Mendoza will join Steve Dale with Bill Moller on Sunday at 2:35 p.m. to discuss the ordinance as well.
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