An effort to improve pet health and reduce the number of innocent animals being killed every year could make Chicago next on the list of cities that have stopped peddling puppy mill puppies.
The Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Ordinance was introduced by Chicago City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza and a coalition of aldermen and is intended to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats in the city unless they come from public or private rescues and shelters.
“We pay dearly for failing to curb the sale of puppy mill animals. This legislation is going to save the lives of dogs and cats and spare pet owners the heartache and cost of bringing a sick animal into their home. Also, I’m happy to say that this addresses a big challenge the City faces in terms of finding resources to care for strays and abandoned animals,” Mendoza said in a statement.
A retail pet store that continues to sell dogs sourced from puppy mills could be fined $100 to $1,000 for each offense.
The move has garnered strong support from the public and a coalition of businesses and organizations, but it might be too full of common sense for some. The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) released a statement opposing it and wants to see more public education to address the problem. One of the CVMA’s arguments is that people want purebreds and they won’t look to shelters or rescues to find them.
However, the Illinois-based Puppy Mill Project offered a different take that highlights the need to take immediate action to stop treating puppies like products and to stop allowing animals to be killed while pet stores continue to support the mass breeding of dogs.
“About 25 percent of the animals that come into CACC are pure breeds and there is such a wide range in age and breeds that come in the door,” said Cari Meyers, founder of The Puppy Mill Project. “This is a win-win situation because it opens the door for many more animals to be rescued. It also stops providing an outlet in Chicago for the sale of puppy mill dogs.”
According to the group, over 19,000 animals came into Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) – the city’s animal control facility – in 2012, while 7,653 of those animals (39 percent) were euthanized. According to the ordinance, that cost the city an estimated $199,124 –$251,384.
Even with the state’s Pet Disclosure Act, which requires pet stores to post breeding information, people still don’t know where these animals are really coming from. Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Puppy Mill Campaign for the HSUS, told the Columbia Chronicle that, “If [storeowners] told consumers the truth about where they buy their dogs, the consumers would not buy dogs.”
An undercover investigation of Chicago-area pet stores conducted by the HSUS in 2012 exposed a number of problems, including pet store employees lying to consumers about not having obtained dogs from puppy mills and many doing business with breeders that had multiple and significant animal welfare violations.
Collar and Leash, Chicago’s oldest pet store, already made the switch to a humane business model last March and started working with rescues, including those who focus on specific breeds, to help find animals forever homes through the store. Sonja Raymond, the store’s owner, said “this is not just about not selling puppies anymore, but about community wellness and awareness as well.”
There will be a hearing on February 26 to determine whether or not this ordinance will become a law in Chicago.
Please sign and share the petition supporting the effort in Chicago to crack down on puppy mills.
Photo credit: Thinkstock