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Ban ‘puppy mill’ dogs from pet stores, city clerk urges

City Clerk SusanMendoztalks Ald. PDowell (3rd) Wednesday's City Council meeting. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

City Clerk Susana Mendoza talks to Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) at Wednesday's City Council meeting. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

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Updated: February 5, 2014 4:43PM



The pipeline of puppies purchased in Chicago would come from shelters and humane adoption centers — not from for-profit breeders derisively described as “puppy mills” — under an anti-cruelty crackdown proposed Wednesday.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza and a growing list of dog-loving aldermen want Chicago to join 45 other cities in the U.S. and Canada determined to shut down puppy mills — or at least cut off their access to city pet stores.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mendoza introduced an ordinance that would limit the retail sale of dogs and cats at Chicago pet stores to those animals that come from shelters and humane adoption centers.

The ordinance is aimed at improving what the clerk calls deplorable living conditions for dogs sold to Chicagoans. An ancillary benefit would be easing the burden on taxpayers by increasing adoption and reducing the need to euthanize strays.

“The animal care and control center is inundated with dogs that are surrendered. We have to feed these animals. We have to give medical attention to these animals at taxpayer expense. And we actually kill these animals at taxpayer expense,” the clerk said.

“Oftentimes, they’re inbred. A lot of these puppies end up having medical conditions that become very expensive for the owners to handle over the life of the puppy. That’s another reason why so many of these dogs are surrendered to animal rescues or shelters.”

Mendoza argued that many Chicagoans purchase cuddly puppies from pet stores, unaware that “99 percent” of them come from puppy mills that subjected their new best friends to tortuous conditions.

“I’m going to be brutally honest. Those dogs are raped day-in, and day-out until they have puppies that we can then purchase because they look so cute in pet stores,” she said.

“They’re kept in very confined, tight quarters where they can’t even move around. They are in their own excrement. They’re not cleaned. They get no exercise. ... It’s completely inhumane. It’s a travesty.”

Paula Fasseas, founder of PAWS Chicago, the area’s largest no-kill shelter, said animals are treated as a “commodity — not like living beings” by commercial breeders.

“Birthing moms and dads just stay in the facility and don’t get any kind of socialization and care. We end up with some of those parents and it takes years and years to rehabilitate them. They’re so petrified of people,” Fasseas said.

Los Angeles, San Diego and Toronto are just a few of the cities that have already sought to shut off the puppy mill pipeline, according to Cari Meyers of the Puppy Mill Project-Chicago.

“I have to believe that, if consumers really knew the conditions that these animals are coming from, they would not support such systemic, large-scale cruelty,” Meyers was quoted as saying in a press release.

“Why are we bringing thousands of new animals into this city each year when tens of thousands of dogs and cats are in our shelters and rescues at the city’s expense?”

Email: fspielman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @fspielman



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