Judge Orders Hold on Limiting Pet Store Sales


It’s a shame the pets in a pet store don’t have a say. Certainly a Federal judge is not taking their welfare into consideration.  A Federal judge issued an order today (September 11) to delay Cook County’s implementing of the so-called “puppy mill ban” in response to a Federal lawsuit filed this week.

According to the Chicago Tribune, David Fish, a lawyer representing the pet store owners who sued the county said,  “I think people can rest assured that people can get their Christmas puppies and their Easter bunnies in April next year.”

You read that right. Incredible that Mr. Fish defined the problem, and at least one reason why the law to prohibit sales of dogs, cats and rabbits at pet stores must be enacted. By purchasing animals impulsively, they land in shelters, or worse. What’s more, of course, is consideration of supporting where these animals are procured from. No responsible breeder ever, ever sells to a pet store.

On Monday, the owners of Petland of Hoffman Estates, Petland of Chicago Ridge and the five Happiness is Pets stores across the suburbs sued to block the Cook County ordinance that targets large-scale breeders (and we’re mostly talking puppy mills here) that have been accused of providing poor conditions and producing unhealthy pets. The Missouri Pet Breeder’s Association, which claims its state is home to more breeders than any other state, is also named a plaintiff.

Home to more breeders? That’s laughable. Everyone in the animal welfare world knows they are home to the most puppy mills, or at least more than their share.

Interesting how breeders is being defined. How can the American Kennel Club tolerate this? Their hobby breeders, who do right by dogs, are being all put in the same litter basket as the commercial facilities and puppy mills. What’s up with you AKC?

The lawsuit claimed the law to prohibit sales  is unconstitutional because it is overly vague, violates the Commerce Clause by interfering with interstate commerce, provides unequal protection, impairs business contracts and would put the pet shop owners out of business causing them “financial ruin.”

Well, of course, countless pet stores don’t sell dogs, cats or rabbits and do just fine. Some pet stores have not only avoided financial ruin, but thrived using an alternative approach, adopting shelter or rescue animals.

As far as interstate commerce, all I know – that’s the point and the problem, they’re bringing animals from commercial facilities and puppy mills from outside Illinois, such as the Missouri puppy mills.  It SHOULD BE stopped! Are the courts really going to allow this?

The ordinance, which allows home-rule municipalities to opt out, was approved in April and set to take effect October 1. Cook County’s new law would limit the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits to those that come from rescue groups, humane societies, government-run shelters or federally licensed breeders who use no more than five reproducing females.

Today’s court order now postpones that law until a judge rules on the complaint,  expected to be heard next on October 22.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has not commented. It is representing the defendants including the county board of commissioners, board President Toni Preckwinkle and Dr. Donna Alexander, the animal and rabies control director.

As for other “legal stuff,” I’m no lawyer…. All I wonder about is who is the judge for the animals? The way I see it, they’re the losers here, while people make money off – in some cases – suffering animals. Legal? I’m not sure. Ethical? I am sure.

Cook County’s law to limit pet store sales of dogs, cats and rabbits came following the Chicago city ordinance (Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act) to do the same (which will go into affect in March, 2015).  Cook County would have been the first county to enact what over 50 cities have now achieved across America and Canada, including Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and most recently North Miami Beach.

The movement – which is sweeping America -to limit pet store sales began with the grassroots non-profit called the Puppy Mill Project, which ironically just celebrated their fifth anniversary.

For a detailed history about the Puppy Mill Project, and for more about why really we need these bans and how the Project has succeeded, read my ChicagoNow colleague Kathy Mordini’s excellent coverage in her blog Raining Cats and Dogs.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day March on Michigan Avenue, Sunday September 21 now becomes even more significant – all family members (including those with four legs) are welcome at noon. Meet at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River (East side). Starts promptly at 12:00 pm. We will march down Michigan Avenue to the Hancock Center, cross the street, and end at Plaza of the America’s, 448 N. Michigan Avenue (West side). Many public officials who support the efforts to limit pet store sales will be there; I will be the emcee. Cari Meyers, founder of the Puppy Mill Project will lead the rally.
Please RSVP to provide a count for the city.

Cari Meyers will also be on my WGN Radio Show, Steve Dale’s Pet World, this Sunday – September 14, 6:35 CDT on WGN Radio, 720 AM or listen HERE.

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