For now, it appears that public opinion has won out over lobbying groups in the battle to keep puppy mill dogs out of Cook County’s pet stores. As of this evening, Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman has pulled the discussion of the Cook County pet store amendment of the new ordinance that was slated for next Tuesday.
Gorman had recently introduced the Cook County pet store amendment that would have allowed the pet stores covered by Cook County’s new pet store ordinance to continue to sell puppy mill dogs. The caveat was that the dogs had to come from “good puppy mills” – those that had not had violations in the past two years.
In March, the Chicago’s City Council passed the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act – a measure that prohibits the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in Chicago Pet stores. The county commissioners followed suit with a similar measure a month later.
The ordinances were aimed at shutting down the puppy mill and kitten mill pipeline to Chicago and Cook County pet stores, cutting down on the animal cruelty and consumer fraud that went hand in hand in pet store pet sales.
The ink was barely dry on the county amendment when Commissioner Gorman took some meetings behind closed doors with The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association. All three had pushed for the watered down bill – one that would have allowed the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats to continue as long as they came from mills that had not had direct violations within the past two years. Commissioner John Fritchey and The Puppy Mill Project - the two forces behind the bill - were not included in those discussions.
PIJAC is a lobbying group that has two powerful players in the puppy mill industry as directors – a representative of the Hunte Corporation (the largest broker of puppy mill dogs) and Petland (the largest pet store selling puppy mill dogs in the United States).
In the past two weeks, The Puppy Mill Project, the group that spearheaded the ordinances with City Clerk Susana Mendoza and County Commissioner John Fritchey, and rescue groups rallied citizens to call county commissioners to show their support. Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project, met with Gorman today to share information with hopes of making a difference.
“This is good news, but it won’t be a total victory until the measure is killed for good from Cook County,” says Meyers. “What people need to understand is that there are no good puppy mills and measures like this are impossible to enforce. We hope that the county will now give the original measure the opportunity to do what was intended - put an end to puppy mill sales in Chicago.”
The battle isn’t over in Cook County. Orland Park, a home rule community, is considering whether to adopt the county measure, approve a watered down ordinance or not act at all. Happiness is Pets is in that community.
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