Pet Advocates, Store Owners Clash Over Puppy Mill Ordinance
(CBS) — It’s a battle over what kind of puppy you can buy and where you can buy it.
Starting in March, a new ordinance in Chicago will only allow pet stores to sell rescue or shelter dogs.
Opponents say it takes away our right to choose the kind of dog we want to buy. But as Marissa Bailey reports, supporters say it’s to stop inhumane puppy mills.
Every single pup at the Naperville Petland came from a breeder and the owner, Adam Stachowiak, says he personally visits each of them.
“We look at their facilities and you know they’re held up to very high standards,” said Stachowiak.
But a new ordinance in Chicago will make buying bred dogs from a pet store illegal.
Cari Meyers says that is because “they’re from puppy mills. That’s it. Blanket statement. They’re from puppy mills.”
Meyers is with the group, Puppy Mill Project, that helped pass the Chicago ordinance. She describes a typical puppy mill as a place like this where large numbers of dogs are bred in inhumane conditions.
“Private breeders, responsible breeders, never sell to pet stores,” said Meyers.
Stachowiak counters, “We use breeders that you know we’ve trusted for years and years.”
We decided to check out the backgrounds of four Petland dogs.
USDA inspection reports showed one Morkies’ breeder passed inspection last year but had 249 dogs on the property — 75 of them puppies.
In the previous two years, inspectors noted dogs with skin and coat problems as well as enclosures in poor repair.
One Goldendoodle’s breeder passed the last two inspections. But in 2012, inspectors noted that facilities were dirty and in poor repair. The breeder was also told to consult a vet about the condition of three dogs.
One English bulldog came from a breeder with 30 dogs and no violations going back three years. And a Shelty’s breeder had just two inspections since 2011 — but no problems.
The new Chicago ordinance says that pet stores will only be able to sell shelter and rescue dogs.
Rescue dogs like Ollie and Laney can come with their own set of problems.
Elizabeth Estes and her partner say they’re glad they got shelter dogs, but they’ve spent close to $10,000 on medical bills and training. They would rescue the pups all over again.
“They are a lot better than they were, but they’re still not as socialized as they need to be,” says Estes.
Pet store owners say selling only shelter dogs would hurt their business and take away some consumer protections.
“Now the consumer is going online to buy from an unregulated online retailer or they’re going direct to a breeder who doesn’t have to offer a warrantee,” said Stachowiak.
But Meyers says the battle is just beginning.
“This is happening everywhere. You will not in the near future see pet stores selling animals. I guarantee that it’s not gonna happen,” said Meyers.
Meyers predicts that ordinances to ban the sale of bred dogs in pet shops will become common around the nation.
Petland in Naperville said that all problems at the two breeders we mentioned were in the past and have been corrected. Both of them currently have clean inspection records, which is critical to the store owner in deciding which breeders to use. The two breeders themselves did not return our calls.