February 26, 2009
Illinois' 'Chloe's Bill' Supported by Shelters and Rescue Groups
Thus far, 53 animal shelters and rescue groups in Illinois have joined together to support new state legislation named "Chloe's Bill." Chloe's Bill (HB 198/SB 53) is named after an Illinois puppy mill survivor and would ensure that pet stores and mass breeding facilities, known as puppy mills treat their dogs humanely and provide consumers with basic information about the 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 ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Puppy mills are mass dog breeding facilities that keep animals in cages or kennels, often in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction. Dogs from puppy mills are usually sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health or genetic history.
"Animal shelters and rescue groups are dedicated to caring for and finding homes for stray and unwanted animals, and irresponsible mass breeders and pet stores are adding to the problem," said Jordan Matyas, Illinois state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "Puppy mill dogs can require extensive veterinary and socialization care, creating additional financial burdens for these not-for profit groups. Illinois must decrease the inhumane dog breeding practices that are so prevalent."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects some dog breeders under the federal Animal Welfare Act. However, many puppy mills are not regulated at all. The inspections that do take place don't deter cruelty and abuse, due to lax enforcement of meager animal welfare standards and only occasional minor fines as penalties, and dogs continue to be treated like a cash crop.
"Shelters and rescue groups are supportive of Chloe's Bill because they are the ones that bear the burden of caring for puppy mill dogs after they are rescued, as well as puppies surrendered to shelters because of health or behavioral issues resulting from poor breeding practices," said Cori Menkin, senior director of legislative initiatives for The ASPCA. "For every puppy mill dog that is purchased from a puppy mill or a pet store, there's another dog sitting in a shelter waiting to be adopted, or even worse, waiting to be euthanized. I'm thrilled to see the outpouring of support for Chloe's Bill from the shelter community."
The new legislation would prevent breeders from maintaining more than 30 unaltered dogs over the age of one year and requires a veterinary examination before pregnancy. It also requires breeding facilities to be consistently cleaned and constructed to protect dogs from disease and injury, be free of wire flooring, and have sufficient heating, cooling and ventilation.
Chloe's Bill will also require pet stores and breeders to provide information to consumers about the dogs available for sale, including the breed, age and gender of the dog and information on the animal's full medical history. Additionally, pet stores and breeders would need to provide information on the cost and responsibilities of owning a dog and the benefits of spaying and neutering.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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 www.aspca.org.