Last year was a banner year in Illinois for those wanting to see the end of puppy mill pets sold in pet stores. Considerations took place in towns, counties, and even at the state level,. With great fanfare last Spring the city of Chicago passed a ban, and Cook County soon followed suit. While well-intentioned, a rush to legislate without sufficient counsel led to undesirable consequences, though.
Both bans are now in a state of limbo thanks to lawsuits filed by pet stores and the businesses backing them. The old advice about “watch what you wish for” holds true in situations like this. Yes, people wanted the stores to stop promoting puppy mill puppies. But rushing through legislation, without adequate expertise on how best to proceed – well, it ends up like where we’re at today.
It hit the news last week that some pet stores are going to challenge the Chicago ban, which had been scheduled to go into effect March 5. It figures. Behind the pet stores are the puppy mills, the agricultural industry, and all the big money they’ve got ready to throw at this.
It was reported that Chicago City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel are going to fight the puppy mill industry on this latest lawsuit. Just like with the Cook County ban, that’s all well and good for our reps to stand behind laws they’ve passed.
But if those laws had been written properly in the first place, we wouldn’t have this issue. Our city and county representatives could be concentrating on other issues that have yet to be resolved. In the rush for passing legislation, some mistakes were made, loopholes left in place, an open invitation to plug up the progress by simply filing suit in court. Good laws preempt that.
I talked with Dianne Arp, Chicago Coordinator for Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), about this latest snag. CAPS has been investigating puppy mills and pet shops for the past 25 years. Deborah Howard, President of CAPS, is passionate about ending puppy mill misery. She has worked with the likes of NBC (see Dateline – A Dog’s Life) and other media avenues to raise awareness.
Deborah and CAPS representatives regularly attend board hearings to offer insight and assistance. CAPS campaigns tirelessly for pet stores to go humane and for local governments to enact laws banning such sales. The CAPS legal team represents customers who’ve experienced what many warn about pet store puppies — illness, genetic conditions, high vet bills, even death of their beloved dog.
Here is what Dianne had to say:
Chicago IL passed a law banning the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores last year. Cook County IL hoped to do the same, but succumbed to pressure from pet stores and puppy mill supporting lobbyist groups.
As a result, Cook County ended up with poorly written legislation – which wouldn’t have happened if CAPS had been involved in the process. This left Cook County open to a lawsuit, which is exactly what happened last year. A group of pet stores and a puppy mill lobbyist filed suit against Cook County challenging this poorly written legislation.
The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) legal team has been busy assisting Cook County IL with the lawsuit filed against them. An Amicus Brief will be filed by CAPS on Cook County’s behalf. CAPS is also looking into filing the same on behalf of the City of Chicago.
This Brief will allow CAPS to get involved and function as a subject matter expert, per se, to educate the court on points of law which are in doubt. Sadly, until CAPS got involved, there was no organization filling this role.
CAPS has extensive knowledge in puppy mills and their link to pet stores since it’s something we’ve been doing for over 22 years. CAPS is the ONLY non profit organization SOLELY dedicated to investigating puppy mills and pet stores selling puppy mill puppies. CAPS’ undercover investigation on Dateline literally blew the lid off the pet store-puppy mill connection.
We are experienced in writing concrete legislation capable of withstanding a legal challenge. This was recently demonstrated when pet stores sued the City of San Diego CA and CAPS. San Diego has a puppy mill sales ban and CAPS was included in that lawsuit because we wrote that legislation. A Federal Court judge ruled in favor of the good guys (San Diego and CAPS) and against the pet stores.
Kudos to the CAPS legal team for assisting Cook County, and the City of Chicago.
Experience, knowledge, action, and results – that’s what the Companion Animal Protection Society has to offer. For more information on what we do, visit our website at www.caps-web.org
It’s great to hear CAPS is getting involved in the process, their knowledge and expertise in this subject will surely help. We all want to see legislation enacted and unimpeded, all the way through past the effective date and beyond. Let’s just hope that common sense and informed decision-making rule the process now, and the special monied interests are kept at bay.
The dogs want their day.