There’s a proposal to prevent communities in Illinois from limiting pet store sales of dogs and cats in the future and to roll back ordinances that have already been passed to limited pet store sales previously passed in Chicago, Waukegan, Warrenville, and Cook County.
Specifically: The Senate and House are to amend the state’s Animal Welfare Act: SB1882 and HB2824.
Who could possibly support pet stores sourcing animals from puppy mills?
The group behind this bill is a coalition that interestingly calls itself the Illinois Pet Lover’s Association (IPLA). This includes the American Kennel Club (AKC), Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs & Owners (IFDCO), and, I have reason to believe, other players who benefit from pet stores that sell dogs and cats.
I contacted the AKC and promised I’d publish their un-edited response to explain their support. The response—published here in italics—came came from Sheila Goffe, VP of Public Relations. My responses are published below in bold.
AKC is pleased to support new health and welfare requirements for retail pet stores and the consumer protection measures in Illinois’s Best Practices and Uniform Standards to Ensure Consumer Protection and Safe Pets Bill.
As written, this bill establishes health and welfare standards for retail pet stores and requires that pet stores only obtain pets from breeders that do not have health or welfare violations of federal Animal Welfare Act standards.*
Note: *We are also concerned about the recent removal of USDA-regulated pet dealer listings online. Removing easy access to documentation will make it more difficult for positive and transparent pet welfare and retail oversight initiatives like this to be fully enforced. We support the need to protect privacy, and we understand that the issues causing removal of the documents are in the process of being resolved so that appropriately redacted records can be made available again in the near future.
Wow. You concede right here because of new changes (which you apparently disagree with, and so do it, but they are real) from the United States Department of Agriculture that don’t allow for anyone to go online to verify if “breeders” have had past violations. For whatever the reason, the USDA has (at least for now) shut down this public information and transparency. You can’t determine if there were previous health or animal welfare violations. This FACT alone should void the proposed bill.
Also, I note the use of your word “breeder.” That’s an insult to the breeders you support. With whom are you putting them into a bucket? No responsible breeder ever sells to a pet store.
The bill requires pet stores to disclose health information and background information about available pets, giving consumers important information about the background and health of the pet they are adopting. We encourage all pet adoption groups to provide the same level of care and transparency as required in this bill.
Great! Except that in the past, pet stores have not been completely truthful with the information provided to the public. Having a watchdog to “police” this information is a good idea, though not practical. So, who is to determine that info provided by pet stores is the truth?
So, now the AKC is suggesting adoption groups mislead the public by not being transparent? Are you kidding? Or perhaps I am misunderstanding? Of course, by law, municipal facilitates around the country must accept any animal who goes through their doors. And, by policy, thousands of open admission shelters do the same. They don’t ask about the history of that animal, and, often if they do ask, they’re not going to hear the truth. Though, of course, knowing all they can about the animal coming in is a good thing. Their mission is to save lives. Is this life-saving mission now a problem for the AKC? Also, do you represent others in the coalition with your views?
The bill is also progressive in that it supports choice for all pet owners and future pet owners, and restricts recent attempts by some communities to limit which pets people can get. An important part of ensuring the success of a pet with a new owner is making sure it’s an appropriate fit for the owner’s lifestyle. We believe valued pets come from a variety of sources, including breeders, pet stores, rescues, and local shelters—and these choices should be available to everyone. In fact, when people can’t get a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, those pets are more likely to end up in the shelter system.
Progressive? That depends on your definition, but setting back laws that have been passed by communities is, in my view (and by definition), regressive. Pet issues aside, shouldn’t communities be able to determine what is sold (or not) at local retail stores? For example, Chicago banned sales of spray paint to decrease graffiti. In some communities. alcohol cannot be sold on Sundays. Aren’t these decisions up to local government?
Specific to pets, yes: People should have a choice to purchase where they desire. But pets are living, breathing, emotional beings, not washing machines. Who speaks up in their interest and against mass breeding? Apparently not the AKC.
And you are correct in saying that people can’t get a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, those pets are more likely to land in the shelter system. That is exactly another issue with pet stores. My hope is that shelters and rescues are somewhat discerning about who can adopt, and that shelter and rescue employees and volunteers are well-trained. I hope the same for breeders. Responsible breeders know their stuff, and they have views on exactly who should or should not have their dog or cat breed.
In my experience at pet stores, employees have limited pet knowledge (at best) and will only ask one question before an animal is purchased: “Will that be cash or credit.”
I do thank Sheila Goffe of the AKC for answering. And as I already have previously indicated, she can join my on-air live (or on tape) anytime.