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Chicago ‘puppy mill’ law expanded to cover all of Cook County

Ozzie Harriet arrived Naperville AreHumane Society last October after spending first four years their lives puppy mill kept cages without

Ozzie and Harriet arrived at the Naperville Area Humane Society last October after spending the first four years of their lives in a puppy mill, kept in cages without human companionship. | Photo provided

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Updated: April 9, 2014 4:33PM



A recent Chicago law targeting for-profit animal breeders who operate so-called “puppy mills” was expanded Wednesday to include all of Cook County.

The measure, approved unanimously by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, requires pet stores to sell cats, dogs, and rabbits obtained from animal shelters, rescue organizations and humane agencies.

The goal is to cut into the business of so-called puppy mills, which critics deride as breeding operations that prioritize profits over the health and well-being of animals.

It does make an exception, allowing small-operation breeders with five or fewer female dogs to sell to pet stores, said the ordinance’s sponsor, Commissioner John Fritchey. Home-rule municipalities could also pass their own rules to opt out, he added — an update he agreed to after meeting with pet-store owners.

During a packed hearing, pet-store backers and animal-rights advocates both proclaimed their love of animals while alternately lauding and trashing the ordinance, which takes effect in October.

Many who showed up to voice opposition were affiliated with the Petland chain of pet stores.

“My staff are called pet counselors – they are not associates, they are not sales people . . . We love any animal in our store,” said Jim Maciejewski, who owns a Petland store in Chicago Ridge.

“I firmly believe the ordinance, as it is proposed today, will not address any of the issues it claims to,” Maciejewski said. “All it will do is put me out of business.”

But proponents praised the measure, while describing the mistreatment, health concerns and over-breeding associated with large-scale facilities.

“The more I hear this, the angrier I get. Because all of the symptoms you guys are talking about, my dog is starting to display,” said Commissioner Deborah Sims, a Southwest Side Democrat who purchased her Maltese from a pet store.

“This will put them on notice. If you are buying puppies from puppy mills you need to stop. Do your business get your act together and this won’t affect you.”

Email: bslodysko@suntimes.com

Twitter: @BrianSlodysko



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