Did the HSUS sell out the Illinois pet store bill to puppy mills?

Did the HSUS sell out the Illinois pet store bill to puppy mills?
A dog that was part of an Illinois puppy mill rescue.

Where does the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stand on puppy mills? Up until last week, I would have guessed that they were firmly against puppy mills and the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats – puppy mill and kitten mills pets – in pet stores.

I was wrong.

Last week, the HSUS came this close “ “ to selling out the hard work of those fighting against puppy mills by working a backroom deal that would have allowed pet stores in the state to continue to do business as usual. The HSUS had worked on a compromise bill for the proposed statewide ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs in Illinois pet stores. In one fell swoop, the revised Illinois pet store bill would have undone all the hard work done by pet lovers in the state of Illinois.

Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project, testifies before a Chicago City Council Committee in February.

Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project, testifies before a Chicago City Council Committee in February.

Let me backtrack a bit. Earlier this year, Chicago became the first Midwestern city and Cook County the first American county to outlaw the sale of puppy mill dogs, kitten mill cats and bunny mill rabbits in pet stores. The Chicago ordinance culminated two years of hard work by City Clerk Susana Mendoza and The Puppy Mill Project. The County ordinance came one month later with the help of Commissioner John Fritchey.

Behind the scenes, the groundwork was being laid for Illinois to become the first state to also outlaw the sale of puppy mill puppies. The Puppy Mill Project had been doing research and providing information on the proposed Illinois pet store bill. When a bill was introduced, it was the HSUS that had stepped in at the last minute to take charge of the legislation even though they had not been working with any of the advocates who passed legislation in Chicago and had been working on the state measure.

The bill needed some work, but at that point the Illinois pet store bill was a step in the right direction. But, in the past few weeks, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) had gone into full battle mode fighting the bill. PIJAC is a lobbying organization that claims to stand up for pet businesses – especially small ones – around the country.

But that isn’t really what they do. I prefer to call PIJAC PMIJAC – Puppy Mill Industry Joint Advisory Council. That’s because two of the organization's most powerful directors have roots firmly in the puppy mill industry and the group lobbies hard to protect the rights of puppy mills and the pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs.

An emaciated dog at Naperville Petland last July.

An emaciated dog at Naperville Petland last July.

Petland – America’s largest pet store chain that still sells puppy mill dogs – and the Hunte Corporation – dog brokers that buy and sell dogs from puppy mills – both have directors in the organization. The fine folks a PMIJAC fight legislation aimed at curbing the sales of puppy mill dogs in pet store by running campaigns filled with lies and smokescreens. (See previous post.)

As PMIJAC started to campaign for the “right for consumers to choose,” the current started to change in Springfield. PMIJAC continues to say that the USDA offers protection to consumers because pet stores sell dogs with the USDA stamp of approval.

But, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know that is bullshit. The USDA can write up puppy mill operators for violations of the animal welfare act but the USDA can't shut them down. Mills like Debra Pratt’s deplorable Iowa puppy mill continued to operate for years with stacks of bad violations and only shut down after someone else becomes involved. (There is still a question as to whether or not she is totally shutdown, but that is a topic for another day.)

Last week, the sell-out almost happened. On Wednesday, the HSUS dropped the pet store ban in a total cave in to the puppy mill industry. The new Illinois pet store bill included the following –

From Capital Fax.com.

From Capital Fax.com.

Here's the deal. This revised measure would have allowed stores to continue to get dogs from the same large scale breeding operations they currently purchase pets from. While it says that the breeders could not have violations in the past two years, like everything else in the land of puppy mills, there would have been no oversight. This would have meant business as usual for pet stores and the large commercial breeding operations - puppy mills.

Then there is the section on reputable breeders.  The good breeders (reputable breeders) find their own buyers and keep control of the puppies they breed and sell.  They do not sell to pet stores and are prohibited from doing so by their breed organizations. So, the changes would have done nothing to reduce the likelihood of pet stores obtaining puppies from puppy mills. The HSUS' politically hungry lobbyist created a compromise measure that did nothing to address the puppy mill issue and did a lot to help out the pet stores guilty of misrepresenting their product everyday.

The good news is that the word of the HSUS sell out barely hit the streets and The Puppy Mill Project and other groups mobilized behind the scenes. By Friday afternoon, the HSUS compromise bill was dead in the water. Hopefully new legislation will be crafted without the help of the HSUS and the next version of the Illinois pet store bill will actually have some teeth. (Note, the Chicago Tribune story that was printed Saturday was posted after that version of the bill had been scuttled.)

Dog rescued from puppy millPassing a bill that stops the pipeline of puppy mill dogs to Illinois’ pet stores isn’t going to be easy. PMIJAC and the puppy miller minions the fuel their coffers will pull out all the stops to prevent Illinois from being the first state to pass a ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

I for one, would rather fight for a bill that actually does something and lose than to sell out puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats by letting a compromise Illinois pet store bill pass. The revised bill that saw the light of day for about two days last week not only sold out puppy mill dogs and backed the puppy millers, it would have undone all the hard work done behind the scenes in Illinois for over 2 1/2 years.

I for one, can't back compromises like that. I can't stomach anymore of that animal abuse and any bill that mirrors last week's HSUS debacle just continues to perpetuate animal abuse in its worse form.

Do you really want to shop and and support pet stores that make their living off animal cruelty? I don't. Most stores don't sell pets and there are good breeders out there that will sell you a pet...you just have do do your own legwork and homework to find them and be willing to work on their terms.

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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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