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Chicago moves toward banning pet sales in pet stores

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Chicago City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza and a coalition of aldermen have introduced the Companion Animal & Consumer Protection Ordinance which limits the retail sale of dogs and cats from pet shops in the City of Chicago to those sourced from shelters and other humane adoption centers.

The proposal promotes the welfare of animals, protects consumers, and will save City tax dollars by increasing animal adoptions and decreasing costs associated with euthanizations. If the ordinance passes, pet stores will have six months to move from a sale to adoption model or face fines of $1,000 per day.

“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.

Mendoza said many consumers unwittingly support an industry that has a well-documented track record of mistreating animals. An estimated 99 percent of dogs sold in retail stores are from puppy mills.

“Puppy mills are places where industrial scale breeding takes place to maximize profit. As man’s best friend, dogs have served as companion animals for ages. They serve as first responders with our police and firefighters. There’s no acceptable level of neglect of these animals,” Mendoza said. “This ordinance is a humane compromise that would encourage adoption and still allow consumers to find a breed-specific pet from an approved animal rescue or a non-commercial, responsible breeder, which are permitted under this legislation.”

The legislation is overdue in Chicago as already 44 cities in the United States and Canada have passed similar legislation, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Texas and Toronto, Ontario, according to Cari Meyers of the Puppy Mill Project - Chicago.

“This legislation is essential for the City of Chicago to protect our consumers who, for years, have not been told the truth about the origin or quality of the puppies sold in pet stores. I have to believe that if consumers really knew the conditions that these animals are coming from, they would not support such systemic, large-scale cruelty. Beyond that, why are we bringing thousands of new animals into this city each year when tens of thousands of dogs and cats are in our shelters and rescues at the city’s expense? This would be a win-win for the City of Chicago, our consumers, and the dogs suffering in puppy mills,” Meyers said.

Meyers and The Puppy Mill Project have been working toward this ordinance for two years. The organization has offered to work with the 16 pet stores in Chicago that sell pets from commercial breeders to help them go humane.