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Illinois Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Consumers from Buying Sick Pets

The Illinois House and Senate passed legislation known as the “puppy lemon law” to protect pets and consumers who purchase dogs or cats from pet stores. The bill passed the House with a 67 – 49 vote and the Senate with a 44 – 13 vote.

If signed into law the measure will allow consumers to receive reimbursement for veterinary costs up to 21 days after purchasing a pet if the animal was sick at the time of the sale. If the dog or cat has a genetic condition, the consumer has up to a year to receive reimbursement for veterinary costs. Sen. Dan Kotowski, D–Park Ridge, sponsored the legislation.

“Bringing a new pet into your home and finding out the animal is sick can be heart-breaking and costly for many families,” said Kristen Strawbridge, Illinois state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We thank Senator Kotowski for his leadership in passing this important measure to protect consumers and pets.”

The legislation also requires pet stores to report outbreaks of animal diseases to the Department of Agriculture, and requires that they notify consumers who bought a cat or dog from the store in the last two weeks if outbreaks occur.

Concerns about a 2012 outbreak of distemper at a Chicagoland pet store chain prompted the introduction of S.B. 1639. The HSUS received reports from pet buyers indicating  that at least 10 puppies sold at five different locations of Happiness is Pets were sickened or killed by the canine distemper virus.

Following this incident, The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of Chicago-area pet stores, and found that these pet stores are purchasing puppies from puppy mills, where hundreds of dogs are confined in cramped wire cages. During the six month investigation, commercial breeders shipped more than 2,000 puppies to Chicagoland pet stores, most of them from notorious puppy mill states such as Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio and Indiana.

Illinois is taking steps towards joining a growing list of states that are cracking down on pet stores that sell sick pets to the public. If signed into law, Illinois would become the 21st state to have a pet lemon law.


  • The HSUS recommends never purchasing a puppy from a pet store because many of them come from puppy mills, where sanitation problems and disease outbreaks are common.
  • The HSUS urges people who want to get a puppy to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue group. If deciding to buy from a breeder, potential buyers should always visit the breeder in person to ensure that the puppies and their parents are living in humane conditions. For more information about purchasing from a responsible dog breeder read our “How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder” guide.
  • 2,000 pet stores nationwide and more than 80 in Illinois have signed an HSUS pledge not to sell puppies, demonstrating that it is possible to have a successful pet-related business without supporting puppy mills. 

Media Contact: Niki Ianni, 610-999-6932, nianni@humanesociety.org

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