A proposed ordinance sent to the entire Chicago City Council this week would ban pet stores from selling dogs and only allow them to charge fees for adopting pets from shelters and rescue groups in ‘animals.
The proposal seeks to fill a loophole in an ordinance passed in 2014 that attempted to prevent the sale of dogs from breeders on a large scale in Chicago pet stores.
Wording in the 2014 ordinance allowed breeders to sell pets to retail stores under the guise of nonprofit organizations, according to a 2018 Chicago Tribune investigation. The city’s human resources recommended the revised ordinance Monday for approval by the city council. The guidelines would also apply to cats and rabbits.
“If you could see the inhumane way these puppy mills operate, no Chicago pet owner I know would want their money used to support an industry like this,” Ald said. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, said Monday. “It’s heinous, it’s offensive, and the only way it can exist is in the dark.”
Pet store co-owners Stephanie and Lane Boron said the animal rescues that supply their store get dogs from commercial breeders, abandonments and other sources. The couple own Pocket Puppies, 2479 N. Clark St.
“Rescues are not required to provide supply information. We do it, ”said Stéphanie Boron. “There is no escape. There is no fraud. … We shouldn’t be put out of business for doing better with tighter control.”
David Dinger, vice president of operations for the Anti-Cruelty Society, said his rescue was not getting dogs from breeders. He said they get dogs from other rescues and humane societies to avoid overcrowding issues.
“If it is true that there are agencies that are participating in this charade, then we should bring this to light because it is unethical behavior that goes against the important work with which the true animal advocates struggle every day,” Dinger says.
Hopkins challenged pet store owners to find other ways to stay profitable without selling dogs at high prices from breeders.
“If a business is unable to stay open unless it has the opportunity to make its profits off the backs of these animals, then it deserves to close,” Hopkins said.
Stephanie Boron added that the order could prohibit rescues from holding adoption events at retail stores like Petco and PetSmart.
Aldus. Raymond Lopez, 15th, said the order does nothing to end puppy mills, while Hopkins said preventing retailers from buying dogs from breeders could shut down puppy mills.
“We’ve heard a lot of heated rhetoric today about it, but it has nothing to do with it,” Lopez said. “This involves three businesses in the city of Chicago.”
Pocket Puppies is one of these three stores. The other two were notified of the hearing, but did not testify.
Cari Meyers, president of the Puppy Mill Project, a nonprofit that aims to educate the public about what she sees as inhumane breeders, said no responsible breeder would ever sell to pet stores. She said responsible breeders will want to meet with potential owners, sometimes multiple times, to make sure they’re a good fit for a dog.
“They’ve committed fraud against consumers, as well as the city of Chicago, saying they’re rescue dogs, which they’re not,” Meyers said. “They come from the factories – they are the exact same dogs that were in the stores before – and they charge thousands of dollars for these dogs.”
City Council is due to vote on the ordinance on July 22.