Cook County pet store ban faces new opposition

Cook County pet store ban faces new opposition

You can call it the ultimate betrayal. Less than two months after voting unanimously to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats in Cook County pet stores, three Cook County Commissioners have introduced an amendment to the Cook County pet store ban. The revised measure will reopen the pipeline from puppy mills to Cook County’s pet stores if the measure is approved.

The three commissioners have done the abrupt about face without notifying Commissioner John Fritchy, who sponsored the bill, or other commissioners. All three have pet stores in their district and have latched on to the wording of a bill from Connecticut. If passed, the new measure will greatly water down the Cook County pet store ban.

The amendment

Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, Gregg Goslin and Joan Patricia Murphy introduced the new legislation today. It opens the doors for pet stores to purchase dogs from USDA millers as long as they have not had any direct violations in the past two years. It will put puppy mill dogs back in pet stores.

Dog rescued from an Illinois puppy mill last year.

Dog rescued from an Illinois puppy mill last year.

“What people need to keep in mind is that USDA breeders are puppy mills – it’s that simple,” says Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project. “Only puppy millers hold USDA licenses and sell to pet stores. Private breeders, those that take care in what they do and who they sell to, are not licensed by the USDA. If this passes, it will continue the cycle of abuse that we’ve worked so hard to stop.”

Orland Park

The move to amend the Cook County pet store ban sparked outrage in the animal advocacy community in Chicago and beyond. It comes just two days after Orland Park, a Cook County community that has home rule powers, started to consider allowing pet stores to sell dogs and cats as long as they come from USDA licensed millers with no violations in the past two years.  Two of the three city trustees - the two women commissioners -  considering the ban did an abrupt reversal.

Dogs rescued from a puppy mill.

Dogs rescued from a puppy mill.

“How interesting that the two trustees that were very much in favor of keeping the Cook County ordinance have now reversed themselves,” says Meyers of Monday’s trustee meeting. “It is an outrage that two people so vehemently opposed to puppy mills just weeks ago are now OK with puppy mills as long as they don’t have violations. Come on, they are still puppy mills.”

Happiness is Pets is located in Orland Park. The store’s owner Ron Berning was present at the meeting but didn't testify. Another person from Orland Park is Elizabeth Gorman, one of the three sponsors of the amendment in Cook County.

The Cook County Amendment

“This really is the ultimate betrayal to the people of Cook County – their constituents – who called and wrote their commissioners asking that they support this measure,” adds Meyers. “They’ve just spit in the face of those constituents by latching on to the Connecticut bill and working to reverse this measure.”

Matted dog“Before the ink has even dried on Cook County’s nationally praised law aimed at protecting both consumers and animal welfare by preventing the sale of dogs and cats raised in inhumane conditions, the pet industry and its allies have crafted an amendment that is designed to completely undo the good that was done when the Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the animal rights legislation last month,” stated Commissioner John Fritchey, sponsor of the Cook County measure.

“To go back on your vote and side with the puppy mill industry is a disservice, not only to the people of Cook County, but also to the animals who cannot stand up for themselves,” added City Clerk Susan Mendoza, who spearheaded the city measure. “The public will judge these commissioners by the company that they keep, and I, along with an army of animal advocates, will do everything we can to stop this legislation from moving forward.”

The battle heats up

“When you water down the legislation to allow for some USDA puppy millers, you’re still allowing puppy mill sales and it has to stop,” says Meyers. “It’s extremely important that supporters of the ban of pets in pet stores call all the Cook County Commissioners to voice their opinion."

A protest staged by The Puppy Mill Project near an Illinois Pet store.

A protest staged by The Puppy Mill Project near an Illinois Pet store.

“What they have done is light a fire under us and we are mobilizing stronger than ever and will fight this to the end," continued Meyers. " We will be staging a protest at the county building. We will campaign harder than ever to keep the ordinance as is in Cook County and to get Orland Park on Board.”

Please call or email Cook County’s 17 Commissioners to prevent the ordinance from being amended.

  • District #1 - Commissioner Earlean Collins - Earlean.Collins@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.4566
  • District #2 - Commissioner Robert B. Steele - Robert.Steele@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.3019
  • District #3 - Commissioner Jerry Butler - Jerry.Butler@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6391
  • District #4 - Commissioner Stanley Moore - Stanley.moore2@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.2065
  • District #5 - Commissioner Deborah Sims - Deborah.Sims@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6381
  • District #6 (Proposing Ordinance Amendment) - Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy - Joan.Murphy@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.4216
  • District #7 - Commissioner Jesus G. Garcia - Jesus.Garcia@cookcountyil.gov -  312.603.5443
  • District #8 - Commissioner Edwin Reyes -Edwin.Reyes@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6386
  • District #9 - Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri - cookcty9@aol.com -  312.603.4393
  • District #10 - Commissioner Bridget Gainer - Bridget@bridgetgainer.com - 312.603.4210
  • District #11 - Commissioner John P. Daley - John.daley@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.4400
  • District #12 - Commissioner John A. Fritchey - commish@fritchey.com - 312.603.6380
  • District #13 - Commissioner Larry Suffredin - larry.suffredin@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6383
  • District #14 (Proposing Ordinance Amendment) - Commissioner Gregg Goslin Commissioner.Goslin@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.4932
  • District #15 - Commissioner Timothy 0. Schneider - Tim.Schneider@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6388
  • District #16 - Commissioner Jeffrey R. Tobolsk - Jeffrey.Tobolski@cookcountyil.gov - 312.603.6384
  • District #17 (Proposing Ordinance Amendment) - Commissioner Elizabeth "Liz" Doody Gorman - liz@lizgorman.com - 312.603.4215

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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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