The Cook County puppy mill bill, which would ban pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs, cats, and rabbits and is scheduled to go into effect October 1 is facing another big hurdle. Three pet stores have filed a federal suit against the law, claiming that it is unconstitutional. The owners of Petland Hoffman Estates, Petland Chicago Ridge, and Happiness is Pets in Arlington Heights joined forces with the Missouri Pet Breeder’s Association to argue that the ban violates the Commerce Clause by interfering with interstate commerce, and that it provides unequal protection, impairs business contracts, and would essentially just serve to put pet stores out of business.
This is not the first time the bill has faced major opposition. In June, three county Commissioners sought to amend the bill to include a loophole that would allow pet stores to continue getting animals from puppy mills as long as the mill hadn’t had a USDA violation in the past two years (neglecting to account for the fact that the Department of Agriculture does not strictly regulated the operations). Much opposition has also come from Naperville pet stores.
The owners of the pet stores who brought the suit fear that the ordinance will keep them from being able to support profitable businesses, interfere with the rights of responsible breeders, and force those who want specific breeds of dogs to reach out to irresponsible breeders. What they fail to take into account for, however, is the immense cruelty that exists in the USDA mills. Puppy mill animals suffer immensely in small cages, breeding year round without adequate veterinary care or activity. They’re also neglecting to look at precedent––Dog Patch Pet & Feed, a Naperville pet store, successfully switched to an adoption-only model three years ago and continues to both support animals and their bottom line.
At the end of the day, the suit is about the rights of animals to live healthy and happy lives versus the rights of pet stores to sell thousand dollar pure bred dogs. Whose side are you on?