Sale of dogs from Puppy mills banned in Chicago


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As  of Nov. 5 retailers in Chicago are not allowed to sell dogs from large-scale breeding operations.  

By metro reporter

Retailers in Chicago are banned from selling dogs from large-scale breeding operations, also known as puppy mills, as of Nov. 5.

A lawsuit filed February 2015 by a Missouri dog breeder that supplies dogs to two pet stores in Chicago, attempted to block legislation that would end the sale of dogs from puppy mills. It was dismissed Nov. 5 in federal court.

Jim Sparks Jr., co-owner of the  Park Pet Shop, 10429 S. Kedzie Ave.,  is working to appeal the ruling because the ordinance is hurting his business, he said. He added that it is slanderous to say all pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills. Sparks said all of the dogs  at his shop are vaccinated, licensed and inspected with veterinary oversight.

“It’s not because we’re for puppy mills,” Sparks said. “In fact just the opposite— we are actually against puppy mills.” 

A Nov. 5 press release said the law banning dog sales from mills went into effect immediately, but the city has not yet determined when enforcement will begin.

Cari Meyers, founder and president of The Puppy Mill Project who worked on the ordinance with City Clerk  Susana Mendoza, said she wanted to put an end to puppy mill operations after investigating their conditions and seeing what dogs experience living in them.

“As a consumer, [mill owners] are trying to get you to visualize a bunch of puppies in a basket in front of a fireplace, being cozy and taken care of, and it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Meyers said.

Robyn Barbiers, a veterinary physician and president of the Chicago branch of The Anti-Cruelty Society, stated in a Nov. 11 email that the negative impacts of mills include “the medical, behavioral and psychological damage to the animals that live in puppy mills.”

Barbiers said puppy mills provide “substandard” and “often deplorable” living conditions.

“Animals are kept in cages, have little—if any—proper socialization or environmental enrichment, have poor muscle tone due to lack of exercise, and many do not receive adequate medical care,” Barbiers said.

Meyers said because mills produce more than 2 million dogs a year, the puppies not sold are usually put down.

“People think [puppy mills] just kill the adult dogs, [but] they’re killing puppies too,” Meyers said.

Sparks said the idea of sourcing dogs from shelters or humane societies sounds fantastic on the surface, but most of those dogs have come from puppy mills.

“Some of the best dogs on the planet might come from a shelter, but a shelter dog is not for everyone,” Sparks said.

Because dogs from mills are frequently inbred, Meyers said this leads to many of them ending up in shelters when owners are unable or unwilling to pay the medical bills.

“[Our] ultimate goal is to close down the mills,” Meyers said. “It’s large-scale animal cruelty, and it’s got to stop.”

Sparks said he is against puppy mills but argues shutting puppy mills will not come from shutting down pet stores. He said there has to be a middle ground where he can operate his business, and puppy mills can still be closed down. 

Barbiers said she recommends that people interested in purchasing a dog look for one that will fit their lifestyle and be cautious when buying from breeders.

“If the breeder has been inspected by the Department of Agriculture, ask for a copy of the inspection report, visit the breeder and look at the conditions the dam (mother) and sire (father) are kept in,” Barbiers stated in the email. “If the breeder discourages you from visiting, that is a definite red flag. Be extremely careful about Internet sales—no reputable breeder will sell over the Internet without references.”

Barbiers also warned that “free puppies” can become very expensive if they have not been vaccinated or examined by a licensed  veterinarian.