On Monday evening, an Orland Park committee convened with a hot topic on the docket – namely, the sale of pets by pet stores within the town boundaries. After a few months of listening to experts explain the details of the symbiotic relationship between pet stores and the puppy mills they source their pets from, as well as defensive remarks by pet store owners, the committee gave the subject a thorough review and created an ordinance proposal.
Earlier this year, Cook County passed a ban on the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from large-scale commercial breeders, also known as puppy mills. Home-rule towns within the county are exempt from this kind of law, however, and as such each of these municipalities must decide on their own whether to adopt the Cook County ban, ignore it, or pass some form of legislation of their own.
Orland Park is one of these towns, and is home to one of the Happiness Is Pets stores. Having considered their options and listened to experts weigh in on the facts surrounding the symbiotic relationship between pet stores and puppy mills, as well as defensive arguments by the pet store owners, the committee presented an ordinance proposal at their monthly meeting last night.
The proposed ordinance does not ban the sale of these pets, but it does impose quite a few new restrictions on the businesses that choose to sell pets. Available for public view (within the store and on the business website), written documentation about the pet itself and it’s breeder would be accompanied by the details of any medical procedures performed on the pet as well as in-depth specifics regarding the breeding operation each pet came from.
For example, in addition to the name and address of the breeder, it would also be mandatory to include details about the breeding facility that previously would have been kept from public knowledge (such as the average animal population and average number of breeding females at the breeding facility). Additionally, written documentation of these details would accompany any sale, with a copy given to the consumer at the time of purchase.
Fines for violating the ordinance would be $1000 for first offense, $1500 for subsequent, along with a possible six-month imprisonment.
This proposal comes as quite a pleasant surprise; previously, municipalities have had knee-jerk reactions resulting in all-or-none considerations. Subsequently, they’ve back-pedaled in some cases, adding exceptions or exclusions, seriously weakening the original intent of their legislation.
As Ida McCarthy, Illinois Director of Companion Animals Protection Society (CAPS) describes it, “Orland Park got very creative and we so appreciate that. They did the right thing for the animals and the consumer. I hope the city council passes the ordinance.” Additionally, she noted, “A big shout out to the Orland Park council members, especially Pat Gira, for reading and researching the mound of paperwork we gave her.”
This carefully constructed ordinance would still allow the sale of pets which encourage the mills, but it does add some constraints to the pet shop operator while providing a measure of transparency for the consumer.
What do you think of it?
Note: If you have a sick or dying dog you purchased from Happiness Is Pets, please go to www.caps-web.org and fill out a complaint form.