Cook County bans puppy mill dogs in pet stores

Cook County bans puppy mill dogs in pet stores
Trooper was rescued from an Illinois puppy mill last spring.

The ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits will extend beyond Chicago’s city limits throughout Cook County. The County Commissioners voted today to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores throughout the county just over a month after Chicago enacted a similar ordinance. Commissioner John Fritchey was the sponsor of the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act.

The ban that goes into effect in October will prohibit stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits sourced from breeders with more than five breeding female dogs. Stores that break the law will face fine of $500 per transaction. Communities with home rule may opt to enact their own legislation, meaning Chicago’s law that kicks in March of 2015 won’t be effected. The law will impact 13 stores in Cook County.

Dogs in mills live in filthy conditions without proper food, vet care or grooming.

Dogs in mills live in filthy conditions without proper food, vet care or grooming.

“I’m thrilled, just thrilled,” says Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project. Her group worked closely with Commissioner Fritchey in Cook County. “This will not only save the lives of thousands of pets facing euthanasia, it will stops stores from supporting the systemic, large-scale cruelty that is the basis of puppy mills.”

The hearing that lasted over two hours prior to the vote ruffled a few feathers because it didn’t go to committee first. In the end, the 15 commissioners present voted unanimously to support the measure. Meyers testified about the pet store and puppy mill connection, as did Molly Marino, founder of the Chicago English Bulldog Rescue.

Her group rescued many puppy mill dogs and dealt with the health issues that accompany the dogs that have been part of a mass breeding operation. Issues range from internal injuries on female dogs from botched C-sections to other sever health issues to allergies and eye conditions. (Read about one of those rescues here.)

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council – PIJAC – was present to voice their opposition of the measure. PIJAC, who was conspicuously absent from the Chicago hearings on their measure, argues that prohibiting the sale of pets in pet stores limits consumer choice. The group had campaigned prior to Chicago’s vote that pet stores in our community use only high quality breeders although USDA records dispute that (see story).

5-59-MagnumPetland, the nation’s largest pet store that still deals in puppy mill dogs, also was present with a wall of supporters fighting the ordinance. Petland has locations in Cook County outside Chicago city limits. Along with continuing to sell dogs from breeders with five or fewer breeding females, pet stores may deal in dogs, cats and rabbits from animal controls, rescues and humane societies.

“We are thrilled that Cook County Commissioners saw the connection between the puppies bred in puppy mills and the pet stores that sell them,” adds Meyers. “Dogs are kept in small cages without adequate food and water and bred over and over again. The dogs are overbred and puppies often have congenital problems and many other health issues. Consumers often learn the truth after they purchase a puppy and bring them home.”

That was the case for County Commissioner Deborah Sims, a Southwest side Democrat who has a Maltese that was purchased from a pet store. After listening to testimony, she told her own heartbreaking story.

Rescued

These dogs were rescued from a Southern Illinois puppy mill last spring.

“The more I hear this, the angrier I get. Because all of the symptoms you guys are talking about, my dog is starting to display,” says Sims. “This will put them on notice. If you are buying puppies from puppy mills you need to stop. “Nobody wants to put these (stores) out of business. But, if these businesses are doing the right thing, that shouldn’t even be their concern.”

The Puppy Mill Project worked with Chicago City Clerk Susanna Mendoza to pass Chicago's ordinance last month. Work had been going on behind the scenes for two years before it was approved. For a look at the county and city ordinance and other stories related to pets sold in pet stores, read the articles below.

For my fellow blogger Steve Dale's version of this story, please read here.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats & Dogs.

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