Animal welfare bill aimed at pet shops advances in Illinois


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(The Center Square) – Illinois could be moving closer to a ban on the sale of dogs and cats that have been sourced from breeders at retail pet stores.

House members have approved a measure that would prohibit a pet shop operator from offering for sale a dog or cat that has been obtained through a breeder or a person reselling animals from a breeder. Retail pet stores still would be allowed to offer dogs and cats obtained from an animal control facility or an animal shelter.

State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, says the stores don’t have an incentive to make sure families can take on the financial burdens of these pets, which often end up with serious health problems.

“These pet stores want to buy really, really cheap animals, really, really, really young,” Chesney said. “They want to pull the heartstrings of an uninformed buyer. They want to sell it at a very expensive cost. And any time they get a buyer that’s unhappy, they’re going to just pay them a bunch of money to go away because they have so much profit built into these animals.”

Opponents say the proposed bill could stifle consumer choice in the state.

Advocates say it would affect only a small number of outlets.

“There are about 20 or so stores in the state that are intentionally buying from inhumane sources,” Chesney said. “They’re generally in malls and storefronts. These retail shops are just intentionally set up to take advantage of middle-class people and working families.”

Chesney says dozens of municipalities in Illinois already have a similar law on the books, including the city of Chicago and Cook County.

“They know they’re not doing the right thing,” Chesney said. “When they get caught, they buy from humane sources for a little while, until the water’s calm. Then they start buying from the inhumane out-of-state breeders.”

The list of co-sponsors on the bill includes Chesney and a cross-section of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. He said he is optimistic about its chances of becoming law.

“No legislator wants to put a red on the board that they don’t want to protect animals,” Chesney said. “A ‘no’ vote just says that you want to allow this inhumane and puppy mill practice to continue to permeate throughout the state. I just don’t think the average person wants that.”


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