By Jackson Adams -
Governor Pat Quinn today announced his support for legislation that stops Illinois pet shops from selling dogs and cats they have acquired from commercial breeders.
“This proposal will help end inhumane puppy mills, protect pet owners and help shelter animals find loving homes,” Governor Quinn said in a statement. “Cook County will soon offer this humane protection and together we can build on that momentum for families across Illinois.”
Pet store owners say the law targets them.
“This law is going to put me out of business,” said Dan Hamilton, owner of Pet Land in Crystal Lake, Ill. “The majority of my business is selling puppies. There won’t be a business… and people won’t have the choice of where to get their pups.”
Supporters of the legislation said that the law would encourage potential pet owners to take shelter animals.
“This legislation would help end the euthanasia of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats every year in the state, and will drive the market toward responsible breeders and adoptions of homeless animals from shelters and rescues instead of puppies produced in puppy mills,” said Kristen Strawbridge, Illinois State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.
Hamilton, who has owned Pet Land for nine years, said that he only got his puppies from federally regulated breeders. He said the “puppy mills” used by pet stores were already regulated by the federal government and that if they cannot pass an inspection, they cannot sell puppies.
“The breeders that we deal with are all USDA (approved), they have no direct violations. We’ve been dealing with these breeders for years. We’ve got a nice history with them and we know what we’re getting.”
Peter Weber, executive director of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, said Illinois did not require more pet legislation.
“Illinois has the strongest animal welfare laws in the country,” he said. “What happened to the puppy lemon law, wasn’t that supposed to fix this?”
In fact, the new legislation would make last year’s puppy lemon law obsolete, according to Mike Bober, vice president of government affairs at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, PIJAC.
“Illinois is one of 21 states in the country that has a warrantee law that protects the rights of individuals who purchase through pet stores,” he said. “The problem is it only applies to people who buy at pet stores. This legislation would essentially put all of the effort that went into crafting and refining and passing that bill last year right out the window, because it would cease to apply to anyone. Nobody would be able to buy from pet stores and if they couldn’t buy from pet stores they would no longer be eligible for the warrantee.”
Weber said that the state is hard pressed to enforce current laws as it is.
“As far as health and pets are concerned, veterinarians provide healthcare and protect the welfare of animals and humans, we support anything that provides for healthy and well taken care of animals,” Weber added. “But they have cut back so far on the inspection of animal laws in the department that are responsible for inspecting existing laws that there aren’t enough inspectors to do the job… why are we passing additional laws when we should be focusing on how we are going to pay to enforce the laws that we have?”
Jackson Adams writes for Illinois News Network.