Joliet avoids another fight over dogs and cats

Thanks to state pet store bill, although the governor still has to sign it

The off-and-on Joliet controversy over pet stores may have ended without the city having to argue it out again.

The Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill that does what local animal advocates have advocated for years. It stops pet stores from selling dogs and cats obtained from breeders.

The bills still awaits the signature of Gov. JB Pritzker before it becomes law.

But local animal advocate Peggy Grandahl was pretty confident when she spoke to the Joliet City Council on Tuesday.

“No longer will pet stores be allowed to sell commercially bred puppies in our state,” Grandahl told the council as she talked about the passage of the state bill.

She also suggested that the council remove from consideration a recently proposed Joliet ordinance that would have had the same breeder ban, another indication that Grandahl is confident that “the day has finally come” for the cause she and other advocates have pursued.

The Joliet proposal was taken up in April by the council’s Land Use and Legislative Committee. As often happens, when the council takes up matters involving dogs and cats, there was some growling and scratching going on.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman, who has always been on the side of the pet advocates, suggested her colleagues rejected a similar proposal in 2017 because they had been bought off by Furry Babies, the one store in Joliet selling breeder-produced dogs and cats at the time. The store has since closed.

Counciman Terry Morris called Quillman’s remark “a cheap shot” and fumed that the proposal was a little like government telling him what caskets he must carry at his funeral home.

As awkward as Morris’s comparison may have been, he’s kind of right. This is a matter of government telling a business what it can and cannot sell.

However, since pet stores deal in the sale of living creatures, some government intrusion is unavoidable.

The state bill allows pet stores to only sell dogs and cats obtained from animal control centers and animal shelters.

Grandahl had noted at that April meeting that the PetSmart store in Joliet operates with just such a model.

Even though Joliet no longer has a pet store selling dogs and cats from breeders, Grandahl and other advocates wanted the Joliet ordinance to bar such stores from opening. She noted that more cities and villages were passing similar ordinances, and pet stores were moving to places like Joliet that had no such restriction.

It looks like the Joliet City Council can thank state legislators for taking this off their hands.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News