Puppy mill dogs could soon be replaced by rescue dogs at pet stores in Chicago if an new ordinance introduced today becomes law. The Companion Animal Protection Ordinance is aimed at banning the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs in Chicago’s Pet Stores and moving those stores to humane models focusing on adoption.
City Clerk Susana Mendoza and several aldermen worked together to move the ordinance forward. The Puppy Mill Project has been instrumental in working with city hall to spearhead the effort. The Companion Animal Protection Ordinance is aimed at reducing fraud connected with pet store sales while reducing the number of pets euthanized in Chicago by increasing adoptions.
If passed, pet stores will no longer be able to sell commercially bred cats and dogs and must get pets from animal control, shelters, rescues or other non-profits. Fines of up to $1,000 a day could be levied on those not in compliance.
“We pay dearly for failing to curb the sale of puppy mill animals,” says Mendoza. “This legislation is going to save the lives of dogs 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.”
In 2012, over 19,000 animals came into Chicago Animal Care and Control – the city’s animal control facility – and 7,653 of those animals (39 percent) were euthanized.
“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,” says 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.”
Local shelters and rescues pull lots of puppies and kittens from various local and regional animal control facilities. If more pet stores are working with rescues to adopt out these animals, more dogs and cats of all ages will get a second chance at a family.
According to the USDA, 99 percent of pets sold in pet stores come from large commercial breeding operations or puppy mills. Breeding dogs in puppy mills are kept in squalid conditions lacking the proper food, socialization, vetting and shelter. Puppies bred in these conditions are often sick or develop health issues later due to improper breeding. The Chicago pet store ban is aimed at stopping the sale of these types of pets in stores.
Naperville’s Dog Patch Pet and Feed stopped selling dogs over two years ago, working with The Puppy Mill Project to transition to a humane model. Greg Gordon and his staff adopted out 400 dogs last year working with A Place to Bark. The store also worked with rescues to adopt out around 150 cats.
The ordinance will be discussed in committee on February 26 and if it passes committee will move to the full council for a vote on March 5. The city has set up a website with information about the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance, a fact sheet and an online petition supporting the measure.