Reversing or Amending Ban on Pet Store Sales in Cook County

Reversing or Amending Ban on Pet Store Sales in Cook County

Puppy mill dogs are often sold at pet stores. So, why would  Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy and two other Cook County Commissioners Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman, Gregg Goslin reverse or amend the law to ban dogs, cats and rabbits sold at pet stores? With host Bill Moller, I  spoke with Murphy  exclusively on WGN Radio, LISTEN HERE.

Earlier in the year, Chicago Aldermen voted overwhelmingly to ban sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in Chicago, called  The Companion Animal and Consumer Protection ordinance. Cook County quickly followed with a similar law championed by Commissioner John Fritchey, and forwarded and promoted by the non-profit Puppy Mill Project.

LISTEN as Murphy, who has a long history of supporting animal welfare, explains her position.

Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy

Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy

1. Murphy maintains proper procedure wasn't complied to when the ordinance appeared. I don't know about that but Murphy and her colleagues did vote for the ban on dogs, cats and rabbits sold at pet stores, and didn't complain about a lack of procedure at the time.

2. Murphy says she doesn't want pet stores put out of business. Well, when you do something ethically wrong, maybe you should be out of business. No matter, only a small percent of all pet stores sell dogs, cats or rabbits, so we're talking about only a few businesses being affected. Most pet stores don't sell the animals because either they feel it is ethically wrong, or not economically worth all the trouble and costs involved.

Indeed, most pet stores thrive these days without selling dogs, cats or rabbits. Some of those stores adopt shelter or rescue animals instead. Not only are lives saved, but they still sell lots of accessories and food for those  adopted animals, and develop customer loyalty along the way. Of course, Petland, the nation’s largest pet store group, reportedly still deals in puppy mill dogs, strongly opposes such bans. Petland is hardly the small business that Murphy says she's concerned about. Petland, a very big business with big dollars, is reportedly  greatly the dollars behind the push against the county ban to sell dogs, cats and rabbits sold at pet stores.

3. One alternative law being forwarded by Murphy might allow dogs to be sold in pet stores that are  from facilities which haven't been fined in the past two years. Unfortunately,  that means nothing since the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't visit most facilities that often. Not being fined doesn't mean the place has passed a test, it might mean they haven't been inspected. Also, what if a puppy mill does pass the test - it does happen because the standards the Department of Ag uses to inspect are so minimal. Is there then a suggestion that there  good puppy mills?

Murphy says perhaps veterinary students could be hired part-time to inspect. While the idea is creative, it's not realistic since there is no budget for this. Also, who would train these students? Murphy says she wants to regulate what the facilities look like that sell dogs to stores. However, brokers often sell dogs - from places out of state. How would anyone know what these places look like?

On WGN Radio

On WGN Radio

Listener Jim maintains he's purchased at a pet store, then visited the breeder where the puppies were raised. I simply don't believe him.

All I know is that veterinarians, groomers and dog trainers - as well as the general public - are OVERWHELMINGLY in favor of the ban. Should what people think matter? Shouldn't public officials consider what the public wants? And also what experts who deal with animals daily are saying....

An argument made by some is that there are ways around the law - such as using the Internet, going online where unscrupulous folks sell animals. Of course, animals can be sold online, but's not quite as easy to do as it once was, and the government is looking at ways to further control this. Either way, good laws should be passed because they are good laws and do the right thing. Good laws are not avoided because someone might find a way around them....We have speed laws, though people can buy devices to determine if there are police nearby.

Here are some more undeniable facts....

Puppy mills are not a good thing. FACT.

Many dogs sold at pet stores are from puppy mills, others are from commercial facilities that mass produce dogs. FACT

Purchases made at pet stores are impulsive, and unlike a private breeder or animal shelter or rescue, - which wants to insure you are the right family for that pet - pet stores only ask "will that be cash or credit?" FACT

Most pet stores don't even sell dogs, cats or rabbits because they have ethical concerns, or feel it's "not worth" the effort for the dollars gained FACT


For en excellent summary, check out my colleague Raining Cats and Dogs blog, from Kathy Mordini.


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    Something is rotten in Chicago politics when politicians start changing their minds and you can see a trail of money behind it like Petland. Petland is scared stiff that once Illinois bans puppy mill pets other states will follow.

  • In reply to Sandra Townsend:


  • This is ABSOLUTELY how corruption works in Chicago. Deep pockets paying off politicians who are desperate and in need of money. The commissioners reversing their votes cannot make a plausible argument for their decisions, because corruption knows no logic. Jesus, paying off a Cook County politician is easy to do. Just show them some money! This is exactly what Petland has done so that they keep the dirty puppy mill deathtraps alive! Maybe in an ideal world, all would be ethical and transparent. Not in Chicago! All you gotta do is flash some green around and Cook County politicians will swarm all over you like flies on shit.

  • Animal rights activists are aggressively promoting pet store bans in several communities across the country. The majority of these efforts are led by a small band of local activists. While these efforts are well funded and designed by multi-million dollar national animal rights groups, the resulting legislation fails produce the results they advertise.
    The premise of their attack is based on the belief that pet stores are responsible for (1) local pet overpopulation, (2) increased population at shelters, (3) the high shelter euthanasia rates and (4) the sale of sick dogs from “puppy mills” to unsuspected consumers. Their claim is that these issues are a direct threat to local citizens and pets. Their emotion campaign preys upon the heartstrings of local leaders and the media. Facts are not relevant in promoting their anti-pet agenda.
    In reality, none of these claims are true. There is no scientific study to support any of these claims. The animal rights groups have used the power of emotion to influence unsuspecting lawmakers and the media. Such reckless efforts have placed several municipalities in jeopardy of costly legal action for the tax payers to pay. The city of Phoenix is currently in federal court defending their passage of such an ordinance and in April a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction order in favor of the pet store.
    Myth #1: Pet stores are responsible for U.S. pet overpopulation, shelter overpopulation, and high shelter euthanasia rates:
    Fact: Not a single scientifically based study has been found that supports this myth.
    Fact: “There is no central data reporting system for U.S. animal shelters and rescues.” (Source: HSUS)
    Fact: “While many shelters know the value of keeping statistics, no national reporting structure exists to make compiling national statistics on these figures possible.” (Source: American Humane Association)
    Fact: Pet store sell as few as 2% of all dogs in the United States. (Source: ASPCA)
    Fact: The shelter and rescue systems in the United States are importing dogs to fill the public demand. “The NAIA site has a story from the Puerto Rico Daily Sun about 107 puppies that died of distemper on their way from the island to the New York area.” (Source: NAIA)
    Fact: “As many as 300,000 puppies a year are being imported, based on early estimates, according to G. Gale Galland, Veterinarian in the CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.” (Source: ABC News 2006)
    Fact: In the State of Connecticut, the Department of Agriculture tracks pet store and shelter dogs imported into the state. In 2013, pet stores imported 7,000 puppies into the state while shelters imported 14,000 dogs during the same year. (Source: Committee Testimony)
    Fact: In response to rescues and shelters importation of dogs into the United States, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) on April 21, 2014 released a policy statement recognizing the threat to humans and animal health posed by the unregulated importation of animals — rabies, in particular. (Source: NAIA)
    Fact: The most recent credible study on shelter in-takes was conducted in 1998 and found:
    33.7% came from friends/acquaintance
    27.2% came from a breeder or stranger
    22.5% came from a shelter
    9.3% came in as a stray
    3.9% came from pet stores
    This study examined 3,772 relinquished pets from 12-shelters in a six state area. (Source: Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1998)
    Myth Busted: No evidence exist that pet stores contribute to pet overpopulation, shelter overpopulation or high euthanasia rates in shelters.
    Myth #2: Pet stores sell sick dogs from “puppy mills”.
    Fact: Puppy breeders who sell to pet stores are regulated by the federal government. The U.S. Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act and assigned the USDA responsibility to inspect breeders. Only USDA licensed and inspected breeders are permitted to sell to pet stores. (Source: Animal Welfare Act).
    Fact: There is an estimated 10,000 dog breeders in the United States. (Source: HSUS)
    Fact: Just over 2,000 dog breeders are USDA licensed and inspected. (Source: USDA)
    Fact: The estimated 8,000 non-licensed and unregulated breeders sell directly to consumers over the Internet, flea markets and parking lots while evading federal regulatory oversight. (Source HSUS)
    Fact: Nearly 52% of dogs and cats adopted from shelters had reported health problems 1-week after adoption and 10% had reported health problems within the first month after adoption. Yet the prevalence of serious disease among puppies did not differ between pet stores and other sources. (Source: The Journal of American Veterinarian Medical Association)
    Fact: Breed specific rescues and shelters purchase puppies from commercial breeders as well as import puppies from countries such as Mexico, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. (Source NAIA & ABC News)
    Fact: AVMA is aware of 21 states that have lemon laws that provide legal recourse to people who purchase animals from pet dealers, later found to have a disease or defect. (Source: American Veterinarian Medical Association)
    Fact: Pet store puppies receive more veterinary care and oversight during the first 12 weeks of age than other puppies, and therefore had fewer health issues. (Source: Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council)
    Fact: Pet store puppies had fewer health claims thus prompting pet health insurance carrier DVM/VPI Insurance Group to reduce its premiums for pet store puppies and kittens by as much as 22%. (Source: DVM/VPI Insurance Group)
    Myth Buster: The public’s demand for choice in the dog they bring into their homes is growing and supply will meet that demand. Pet stores remain the highest regulated channel for puppy sales and provides customers and the general public with the best protection. While rescues and shelters view pet stores as competition, today only responsible federally licensed and inspected breeders can sell to pet stores.

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    In reply to etbmfa:

    Anyone who lives near a pet store with the animals who are there and has watched them grow bigger while not being adopted, knowing that once they reach adulthood they are no longer marketable merchandise and will have to be gotten rid of, knows that it is WRONG to stock puppies and sell them this way as if they are not alive, as if they do not have any feelings, and without interviewing and/or holding the purchaser accountable for good treatment in any way. It is just plain wrong.

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    Petland is a franchise, so individual owners do their own thing. To lump them all together is wrong and misguided. I doubt independent pet stores have money to bribe politicians. Does is occur to you that perhaps there are good reasons politicians are changing their minds now that they had time to fact find about the ordinance, rather than having it rammed through in 6 days?

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