Desperate Pet Stores Last Ditch Effort to Override Bill Banning Dog and Cat Sales in Illinois


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Here’s how badly the pet store industry and pet store chains selling puppies want to repeal Illinois HB1711, which bans pet stores from selling dogs or cats. Make no mistake, no responsible breeder EVER sells to a pet store, so you know these animals are from large commercial facilities, most often puppy mills. In this last ditch effort (they only have ’till Thursday this veto session in Illinois), they are suggesting their ideas (not yet officially even numbered as a proposed bill but for now is HBXXXX) are an upgrade to HB1711. However, all they want is for pet stores to continue to sell puppies.The language sounds like all this benefits consumers and might protect puppies. Is that really the case? Check out this advance sneak peak:

Let’s take a deeper dive into what is being suggested – bullet point by bullet point:

  1. Expands transparency requirements: Transparency for pet stores has been required in various laws and ordinances in many places around the country and in the past have been ignored. In fact, currently pet stores obtain puppies through puppy mills and large scale operators who sell through brokers, so figuring out where the puppy is sourced is all but impossible. The so-called breeder passes the puppy through a broker or several brokers – who remain anonymous- before landing at the pet store. The notion that a third party auditor inspect breeders is a good one. HOWEVER, that third party needs to be transparent about where they are inspecting and what they find, whether in Illinois or out-of-state. There is no assuredness that would happen with this proposal.  I suggest the third party auditor videotape inspections and create a website where anyone can view the inspections in real time or past inspections. If the breeders have nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they do this? Besides, the guidelines which breeders are inspected in the first place also requires review to insure they are up to date with today’s standards for welfare and breeding.
  2. Reinstates strong reporting: I am all for this – but in the past pet stores have refused to comply.
  3. Provides Illinois Department of Agriculture with additional enforcement tools:  This sounds good, but who is that third party? And will that third party instantly report all they’ve seen on a public website?  As for health certificates, I am all for that but confused. I can’t fathom how puppy mills will provide real health certificates for dogs when they are breeding recklessly. If this bullet is true, then puppy mills would be out of the picture as providers to pet stores. That would be amazing – but hard for me to believe will happen. Will these certificates be truthful or falsified? Currently, consumers can’t even guarantee that they are buying what they think they’re buying. For example, if that Lhasapoo has any Lhasa or any “poo.” Currently at least some pet stores (or many pet stores) may be selling dogs that aren’t what they say they are, and that is consumer fraud.
  4. Creates sourcing and inspection compliance fund: A $25 tax on puppy purchases. Clearly, if you’re buying a $2,000 plus puppy, you can afford another $25. That’s the thought but in reality here’s what happens. People are drawn by that puppy in the window, a lack of knowledge of where the puppies are sourced and not knowing about what health questions to ask (and the answers aren’t exactly known by the uneducated staff who merely seek to make a sale) and the consumer writes a check or pulls out a credit card for an impulsive purchase. But their credit cards can’t handle the thousands and/or they simply can’t afford it so they sign an agreement to pay over time at outrageous egregious interest rates. Fair market interest is one thing, but many pet stores go WAY beyond that.
  5. Establishes uniform accountability for breeders, animal shelters and not for profit organizations:  The suggestion is that some shelters and/or rescues are also purchasing from puppy bills or backyard breeders. Of course, that is not appropriate and I agree with this final stipulation.

IF and that is a BIG IF the pet store industry is serious about cleaning up their act, I’m elated. And a proposal like this could be a start. However, that can’t be accomplished in the three days remaining in the Illinois Veto Session.  If those who created this plan are earnest, bring in an unbiased group of experts, and animal welfare supporters together with their combined expertise to draft a plan that makes sense. For years, I’ve suggested such a task force with various perspectives and expertise at the table.  The plan above has several positive points, but ultimately protects whatever pet stores want to do and with no clear transparency.