The measure sponsored by City Clerk Susana Mendoza, if passed, will make Chicago the first city in the Midwest to ban the sale of puppies (cats and rabbits, too!) in retail pet stores. It is widely known that an overwhelming majority of puppies sold through retail stores are born and bred in puppy mills.
During a hearing on Tuesday, Cari Meyers, founder and president of the Chicago-based Puppy Mill Project, described the facilities as “puppy hell,” explaining that female breeding dogs spend their entire lives in cages, are bred as often as possible until they no longer can, and then “disposed of by the mills. This is a large-scale, systematic animal cruelty at its absolute worst.”
Simply put, these dogs are viewed as money-making “things,” not living, breathing animals with feelings. They spend their entire lives cramped into dirty cages, never feeling a loving human touch, often never setting foot on grass or knowing the joy of a warm bed or chasing a ball. And, their offspring, the puppies looking adorable and playful behind the retail store window, suffer, too. Because puppy mills do not breed with the parent dogs’ health or demeanor being considered, puppy mill puppies are often ill, susceptible to genetic health problems later in life, and often display behavioral issues.
Opponents of the ordinance insist that such a ban infringes on the rights of buyers to purchase purebred puppies. However, the Humane Society of the United States reports that nearly one quarter of all shelter and rescue dogs are pure breeds. Additionally, the ordinance would not affect buyers’ right to purchase directly from reputable breeders or the internet.
There are currently 16 puppy retailers within the city limits. These retailers will have one year to comply with the new policies or face fines of up to $1000 per day. Repeat offenses would result in misdemeanor charges.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the new ordinance affect 16 businesses across the city, including Pocket Puppies in Lincoln Park, which sells small dogs at $850 to $4,000 a pup. Store owner Lane Boron said during testimony yesterday that the ordinance would put him out of business or force him into the suburbs, but not curtail the operation of inhumane puppy mills.
Boron contends that his own store sells puppies that have been humanely sourced. Several of Boron’s customers testified to having bought sick puppies from his store, however.
Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and dozens of other cities have passed similar bans on retail puppy sales.
Do you support such a ban? Would you appreciate similar ordinance in your own city?