In a triumph for animals and animal welfare advocates, the Chicago City Council voted 49-1 to approve an ordinance banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from large breeding operations known as “puppy mills” in pet stores within the Chicago city limits.
Beginning in March of 2015, prospective pet adopters will be required to obtain their companion animals from shelters, rescue organizations and humane societies. Pet stores will have to change their business models to work with shelters and adopt out only rescued and shelter pets or they will have to forgo selling animals completely.
The large-scale breeders known as puppy mills have long been criticized by animal welfare activists for inhumane, crowded and overall deplorable conditions. With shelters already overflowing with Chicago’s abandoned, unwanted and neglected pets, The Companion Animal Protection Ordinance will hopefully promote and support finding homes for those shelter animals instead of contributing to the problem of over-population, as puppy and kitten mills do.
City Clerk Susana Mendoza, a supporter of the ordinance said, “Chicago will now be a national leader in humane laws for pets. It cuts off a pipeline of the animals coming from the horrendous puppy mill industry and instead moves us towards a retail pet sales model that focuses on adopting out the many, many homeless animals in need of loving homes in this city."
According to Mendoza, in 2012 Chicago Animal Care and Control took in over 20,000 pets and 39 percent were euthanized. She mentioned that the taxpayers foot the bill to feed, house, and euthanize all those animals.
The ordinance does not entirely change the way people can find pets in Chicago, because it won't affect online sales or purchases from smaller-scale breeders that don’t sell through pet stores, but most advocates of the ordinance believe it is the first step in the right direction.
Those opposing the ordinance believe it may just push the puppy mill problem to the suburbs. State legislation would be needed to control suburban puppy mill animal sales.
Chicago is in good company and will join 45 other North American cities that have banned the selling of puppy and kitten mill animals in pet stores.