Local Editorials

Another View: ‘Puppy mill’ ban is a start, but the issue isn’t over

https://www.dailyherald.com/discuss/20220301/editorial-puppy-mill-ban-is-a-start-but-the-issue-isnt-over — A new state law that took effect last week bans Illinois pet stores from selling dogs and cats from commercial breeders. It was the culmination of a lengthy effort by animal welfare advocates. They say the new law closes a “puppy mill pipeline” that had supplied Illinois pet stores with dogs from large-scale, out-of-state breeders whose conditions aren’t always humane. And it does, although excluding breeders from pet stores poses some risks of its own that suggest regulators still have some work to do.

Under the new law, pet stores must source dogs and cats from animal control facilities or shelters.

“Shelters and rescues and animal controls can partner with a pet store and offer dogs and cats for adoption,” said Marc Ayers, the Illinois state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Puppy mills are often criticized for inhumane and unsanitary conditions. Many facilities produce hundreds of puppies without taking proper care of the parent dogs. Anything the state could do to improve the lives of those animals is a positive step.

Support for the new law is widespread. Nineteen municipalities and three counties in Illinois have adopted similar humane pet store ordinances since 2012.

The local laws helped pave the way for the statewide ban, which Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in August. Pet store owners had 180 days to comply.

Pet store owners argue the new law will force many businesses and breeders to shut down, eliminate jobs and take away consumer choices.

“This is putting a target on pet stores, who are the most regulated entity in the state to purchase a dog from,” said Ana Soskic, president of Furry Babies pet store.

Soskic acknowledges that puppy mills are a problem but argues the new law is an imperfect solution.

A bill supported by Furry Babies would allow pet shop operators to sell dogs from “verified” breeders in-state or out-of-state.

“The only way to make a difference and to actually close puppy mills is to implement breeder standards that raise the standards of care,” Soskic said.

But Ayers says that proposed legislation would put forth unenforceable requirements. He noted the Illinois Department of Agriculture has no jurisdiction to enforce standards for out-of-state breeders.

As for the new law, it does not force pet stores to close. They only need to change the source of the puppies and kittens in their stores.

Soskic says Furry Babies will attempt to change its business model and provide rescue dogs to families. We hope it and other pet stores successfully make the transition.

But we also hope regulators don’t consider this the end of the issue. More approaches need to be studied and implemented to help improve the welfare of the animals sold to the public and address consumer demand.

Because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing – loving homes for dogs, cats and other pets.

The Daily Herald