January 18, 2009
New Illinois Law Cracks Down on Puppy Mills, Pet Stores
Chloe's Bill Named After Puppy Mill Survivor
Two legislators joined forces Sunday to introduce legislation aimed at regulating large scale commercial dog breeders as well as pet stores. Chloe's Bill, named after an Illinois puppy mill survivor, would ensure that large-scale, commercial puppy breeders and pet stores treat their dogs humanely and provide consumers with basic information about dogs for sale. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John A. Fritchey, D-Chicago, and Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Mt. Prospect, and is supported by The Humane Society of the United States and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Puppy mills are factory style breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care. The puppies that survive these conditions are taken from their mothers for sale at approximately 8 weeks of age, when they are highly susceptible to contagious diseases and very sensitive to behavioral stress.
"People have long considered dogs to be man's best friend," stated Rep. Fritchey. "But they would be appalled if they saw the conditions in which so many puppies are bred and raised. Chloe's Bill is aimed at protecting dogs and making individuals who are motivated by profit over the humane treatment of dogs accountable for their actions. At the same time, I am confident that this legislation will not hinder the operation of reputable and responsible breeders."
Current Illinois law is ineffective in providing humane care for dogs and fails to provide information for consumers who purchase puppies from pet stores and breeding facilities. Chloe, the namesake of the new legislation, was rescued from a puppy mill in central Illinois. She was found covered in fleas, her toes caked with urine and feces. She was later diagnosed with coccidia and conjunctivitis, dual ear infections and roundworms and whipworms.
"Puppy mills are abusive operations where dogs live in constant confinement without exercise, socialization or human interaction," said Jordan Matyas, HSUS' Illinois state director. "Under Chloe's Bill, these facilities will be licensed and inspected to ensure compliance with humane laws. The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Representative Fritchey and Senator Kotowski for their dedication to pass this important animal welfare and consumer protection legislation. Man's best friend should be treated like a part of the family, not like a cash crop."
"I have heard from my constituents who have bought dogs at pet stores only to find the animals are unhealthy, and I have heard about the horrible conditions that are found in many puppy mills. These stories have inspired me to introduce this legislation to ensure all breeders provide humane living conditions. I will work with all Senators to pass a bill that will end the inhumane treatment of breeding animals and ensure Illinois families that their pets are healthy and humanely bred," said Sen. Kotowski.
The legislation will create the "Dog Breeder License Act," which would prevent breeders from maintaining more than 20 unaltered dogs over the age of one year and require a veterinary examination before pregnancy. The Act also prohibits dog breeders from obtaining a license if they have been convicted of a felony under the Humane Care for Animals Act or the dog fighting or bestiality statues. The Act further requires that breeding facilities be consistently cleaned and constructed to protect dogs from disease and injury, be free of wire flooring and have sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation.
"Illinois has a unique opportunity to adopt one of the strongest commercial breeding laws in the country," said Cori Menkin, ASPCA's senior director of legislative initiatives. "As commercial breeding increases throughout the United States, particularly in the Midwest, it is reassuring that Illinois is recognizing the need for stronger laws before the prevalence of puppy mills becomes a blight on the State's reputation."
Chloe's Bill will require pet stores and breeders to provide information to consumers about the dogs available for sale, including the breed, age and sex of the dog and information on the animal's full medical history. The bill also requires pet stores and breeders to provide information on the cost and responsibilities of owning a dog and the benefits of spaying and neutering. The bill numbers are House Bill 198 and Senate Bill 53.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501[c] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series "Animal Precinct" on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit aspca.org.