Puppy Mill Bill Drama Continues in Cook County


Banning sales of dogs, cats and rabbits was unanimously passed by Cook County Commissioners in April.  However, a month later, Commissioners Joan Patricia Murphy and Liz Gorman said they were unhappy with that ordinance (which they both voted for) and suggested an amendment.

As reported by my ChicagoNow colleague Kathy Mordini, the Murphy/Gorman amendment, and call for hearings this coming week have suddenly been “pulled.”

Seems like, finally, the drama is over. But it’s not.

Commissioner Murphy told me so. She suggested that she and Gorman will call in outside opinions to tweak their current amendment, and call for hearings yet again in October. (Interesting choice of dates, since the County ordinance is scheduled to go into affect October 1).

So, is it over? On the possibility of simply reverting to her original vote – to be in favor Commissioner John Fritchey’s original ordinance that no dogs, cats or rabbits could be sold at pet stores – she replied, “No, we don’t like it the way it is.”

Both the original Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Act in Chicago, and the similar Cook County ordinance were moved forward by the non-profit Puppy Mill Project. The organization’s founder Cari Meyers says, “I think they’re re-grouping Clearly their current tactics aren’t working, and the public isn’t buying it.”

Fritchey, who has a long political career, says referring to Gorman, “I don’t recall ever seeing a public official pushing so hard for something that so many constituents are opposed.”

Fritchey says the explanation no doubt can be traced directly to pressure from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, the lobbying organization representing pet stores. After all, while many cities, from Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix and dozens of smaller towns have enacted pet store restrictions (to keep puppy mill dogs out of their municipalities), Cook is the first county and a very prominent county to support such an ordinance. “The industry is very worried about the National precedent of it passing here,” Fritchey adds.

Meyers adds, “It’s like these national groups are a band of gypsies going state to state in the guise of protecting animals. Really? Protecting animals? They have an agenda – clearly. It’s so obvious. Our agenda is that so these animals are not sold at pet stores – that is it – that’s our agenda, animal welfare.”

Of course, the overwhelming majority of pet stores don’t sell dogs, cats or rabbits anyway. Meyers wonders how well the associations are truly representing their industry, or perhaps just a handful of wealthy players. The same for the veterinary associations (who favor Gorman and Murphy), when it seems veterinarians in private practice do want the existing ban to be in place, and animals to be protected.

Fritchey notes, “I am willing to talk to any stakeholder, and find answers that make sense – absolutely. However, I am unwilling to go backwards. This is about consumer protection; it is about animal welfare.”

Meyers adds, “This ordinance is only about one thing – animal protection, and it’s a good one. It should not be and will not be derailed by these national groups.”

Gorman’s office was contacted, but she didn’t return the call

Hear Fritchey comment on Steve Dale’s Pet World, WGN Radio –HERE

Hear Murphy comment on Steve Dale’s Pet World/ Bill Moller Show, WGN Radio – HERE