Legislation aiming to ban puppy mill breeders from selling pets through retail pet stores passed the House and Senate in May and has been signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.
The legislation, HB1711, would only allow Illinois pet shops to sell cats and dogs if they are obtained from animal control facilities or shelters that comply with regulations set out in the bill.
Kankakee County Humane Foundation Director Jordan Chapman said it typically surprises people to learn how many large puppy mills there are in operation — as well as the horrible conditions in which the bred animals live. She said there are more than 2 million puppies bred in mills every year.
Puppy mills are defined as locations where a dog’s sole purpose is to breed, often in inhumane conditions. Commonly, mills breed popular “designer” dogs that are then sold through some pet stores.
Some say the bill may force the closures of standalone pet stores that sell animals. However, it could lead to benefits for those stores.
“I think the bill is more geared toward high-kill shelters and, in my interpretation, that’s where it’s going to make the bigger difference if the pet stores actually step up and go with where they’re being pushed to go,” Chapman said.
She added that, in her experience, most animal control shelters will only partner with people who have the best of intentions. This bill would help weed out pet stores that may not have an animal’s best interests in mind.
“I hope that a lot of pet stores just embrace that it’s the way that their business has to run and they start deciding to go to animal control or shelters and making that partnership,” Chapman said.
“Then they will be held to a different standard because the Department of Agriculture will oversee that, and they’ll be required to provide veterinary care and vaccines.”
A major issue with puppy mills is that the dogs that are bred often have health issues that don’t reveal themselves until later in life. This leaves owners who paid a large sum for the dog the decision to relinquish to a shelter or pay heavy veterinary fees.
Chapman said that the bill could change the statistics for euthanasia in pets, as animals in kill shelters or with animal control, who would be otherwise euthanized, may instead be brought to a pet store for sale.
“I’m hopeful that it makes a bigger difference in the overall welfare of all of the animals in general,” Chapman said.