Can Alderman Ray Lopez Hold Up A Humane Ordinance?
Stop already. In 2015 Chicago passed an ordinance to ban sales of dogs, cat and rabbits at pet stores. From day one three pet retail stores ignored the new law. They maintained they are now selling rescued animals. According to a Chicago Tribune investigative report, the Puppy Mill Project and others, following a trail (without any assistance from the pet stores of course – because they don’t want people to know), it turned out that the dogs originated from identical out-of-state puppy mill sources as they always had. Those “breeders” merely had filled out paperwork indicating they are now a 5013C rescue, which is apparently easy enough to do.
Would seem to me that selling dogs that you maintain are rescues but are not is fraud. Not to mention that the pet stores were evading the intent of the ordinance to ban sales of dogs, cats and rabbit as pet stores. Finally, Chicago Animal Care and Control had enough and issued many citations against Pocket Puppies.
In a hearing yesterday (April 12) of the Health and Human Relations Committee, I heard with my own ears someone say the citations never happened. Well, here they are.
The Committee did ultimately vote to support the proposed ordinance from Alderman Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, merely a fix in wording so the pet stores can hopefully no longer circumvent the intent of the law. However, Alderman Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, again opposed and spoke at length about how he wanted his alternative approach to be addressed. Yesterday, the committee voted against that view (which would allow sales of dogs/cats at pet stores), but Lopez is likely not finished.
Next Step Full City Council: But Wait
The Hopkins proposed fix is scheduled to come up at full City Council on Wednesday April 21. Typically, when it is so clear the VAST majority of Chicagoans support an ordinance that really only closes a loophole in a previously passed ordinance and the Committee is in support – there would be no question and the new and improved ordinance would sail through. However, I doubt that it will.
There is a rarely used parliamentary move called defer and publish which would easily prevent the Hopkins’ proposal for no dogs, cats, rabbits sold at pet stores from even being heard. All Lopez needs is one other alderman to second a motion, and the ordinance is delayed a month just like that – giving Lopez, the pet store industry and veterinary associations additional time to lobby aldermen behind-the-scenes.
Lopez, who has many times called himself “the animal alderman” is anything but that.
When we asked for names of shelters/rescues in support to include on the letterhead to indicate support of the pet store sale limits we had to stop, as we could not fit them all on one sheet of paper.
Apparently, Lopez knows more than people who work in the shelter industry and more than veterinarians and veterinary technicians (who support Veterinary Professionals Against Puppy Mills and disagree with their associations’ position). Once in a meeting a few years back Lopez said, “Veterinarians don’t really know these issues like I do” honest it’s what he actually said referring to welfare and pet store issues. I suggest veterinarians do know A LOT more.
The Almighty Dollar
In my view since pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills or large-scale commercial facilities, if you insist on seeing those sales persist you are simply in favor of puppy mills. End of story.
Lopez complained to the committee about how dogs are bred in backyards and sometimes sold from cars in Target parking lots. I agree, people should not breed recklessly.
Alderman Lopez, how can you be so concerned about these reckless breeders and at the same time support the pet stores selling puppy mill dogs?
I might have the answer:
According to stories in the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Line and my own blog, Alderman Ray Lopez has been paid by Pocket Puppies and who knows who else. Lopez would likely say it’s a campaign contribution that doesn’t affect his views. Do you buy that? As for those Aldermen with Lopez, I can’t explain how they can be, how anyone can be in support of puppy mills?
Of course, selling dogs out of car trunks shouldn’t be. This should be addressed. But Lopez is (purposefully) confusing the issues. That is wrong but not what this ordinance is about.
Continuing in his attempt to confuse the issue, Ald. Lopez sent this note to his aldermanic colleagues just before yesterday’s committee meeting.
“I am not going to debate the specifics here in email; however, I believe that what is important to note is that all of the points presented in the Coleman/Lopez ordinance have been publicly supported by the Human Society of the United States (the same HSUS that is in support of the Hopkins ordinance). They have provide written testimony before the FDA and Congress on this subject supporting the same measures they are advocating against in Chicago.
The question for each of you to consider is why the Humane Society of the United States publicly supports at the federal level, the level that has actual oversight over animal breeding, everything in the Coleman/Lopez ordinance yet finds fault with it in Chicago. Simply put: this is not about saving puppies. This is hypocritical vendetta policy making.”
Once again Ald. Lopez is confusing the issue and hoping to put a question mark in the minds of his aldermanic colleagues, after all, Ald. Lopez is the presumed “animal expert” and so many believe that is actually the case that somehow, he knows more than veterinarians (as he has said) and animal welfare professionals. About the HSUS, all I know is they very much in support of the Chicago ordinance to ban on pet store sales of dogs, cats and rabbits both locally, statewide (which may happen for Illinois) and nationally. None of that matters, though.
For the record the ordinance wasn’t drafted by the HSUS, who only offer their support. This is about the welfare of animals sold at pet stores, and not about the HSUS.
Lopez has hardly been particularly helpful on the animal welfare scene in Chicago and has only caused divisiveness. He even strangely picketed for the dismissal of Susan Russell as executive director Chicago Animal Care and Control. Lopez’s constant public haranguing eventually is acknowledged to have led Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s unfortunate firing of Russell, who many in animal welfare agreed was the best Director Chicago has seen. Also, Lopez wanted to mandate Chicago become a no-kill City via a mandated proclamation, rather than to work together with many partners to achieve the goal.
If you live in Chicago, please contact your Alderman. Express your support for ordinance 2827 to once and for all properly stop sales of dogs, cats and rabbits at Chicago pet stores. That won’t be enough – I mean overwhelmingly Chicagoans NEED to make their voices heard, so have your neighbors, friends and relatives do the same.