Cook County’s ban on the sale of puppy mill dogs, kitten mill cats and rabbits is now law thanks to a federal judge that has tossed out a lawsuit aimed at stopping that law from going into effect. Judge Matthew F. Kennelly dismissed the lawsuit today, which put the new law passed last April in Cook County into effect.
The Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act was spearheaded by Commission John Fritchey last spring with the help of The Puppy Mill Project. It outlaws the sale of commercially puppies, kittens and rabbits in non-home rule communities in Cook County outside of Chicago’s city limits (The ordinance was passed a month after Chicago passed its own law in March of last year).
“We have been waiting for this day for a long time in Cook County and it is a reason to celebrate,” says Cari Meyers, Founder and President of The Puppy Mill Project. “However, it’s just the start of our battle in Cook County and suburban Chicago. We are continuing to work to get other communities on board with similar ordinances so that we can start to end the suffering of the dogs left behind in puppy mills.”
The ruling is good news for those fighting to educate about puppy mills and to stop the barbaric practices in those facilities. However, some of the most lucrative pet stores in Cook County are getting a pass for the time being. Communities that have home rule powers may opt out of the ordinance and some of them have…meaning that the sale of dogs bred in puppy mills will continue.
Arlington Heights and Orland Park are both home to Happiness Is Pets (or Puppies) stores and Chicago Ridge has a Petland. Owners of those three stores with the backing of pro-puppy mill lobbyists at PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council) heavily campaigned in these communities to keep the sale of puppies legal, which will keep the puppy mill pipeline open to our area. All three communities have opted out of the legislation.
While animal advocates keep a close eye on stores that now need to comply…consumers could do their part as well in the other communities. Take the time to research where the puppies are coming from and then reach out to the council members in those communities and let them know that the sale of puppy mill dogs in your back yard isn’t OK.
Last year, the debate also hit Naperville (which isn’t in Cook County) – home to both a Petland and Happiness is Pets. The council their took a wait and see attitude to see how the lawsuit in Cook County and Chicago played out. Now that a judge has backed the legislation in Cook County, I doubt that Naperville will do the right thing. After all, their new mayor wants the owner of Petland on his finance committee…campaign contributions do wonders.
In the meantime, another judge is considering Chicago’s version of the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act. That law was passed in March of last year and was put on hold shortly before it was to become law this spring when two pet stores sued to stop the ordinance from going into effect as well.
Chicago and Cook County are two of nearly 60 communities that have outlawed the sale of puppy mill dogs and kitten mill cats in pet stores to open the door for humane models that support rescue. An estimated four to six million dogs and cats are euthanized in America each year because of overcrowding in animal controls.
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