Illinois poised to ban retail pet stores from selling dogs and cats from breeders

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Illinois is one step away from a law that would ban the sale of dogs and cats from breeders at retail pet stores.

A bill, House Bill 1711, sponsored by state Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, cleared the Senate on the final day of the spring session and now heads for the Governor’s desk for action.

“They were able to get it across the finish line and get it done,” Chesney said. “This was a unique opportunity where Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, can come together. On this issue, I think it was pretty much common sense.”

Retail pet stores still would be allowed to offer dogs and cats obtained from an animal control facility or an animal shelter.

“I think there is a role in extreme cases where government needs to step in and do the right thing to protect those that can protect themselves,” Chesney said. “In this case it’s animals. This bill will achieve most of that.”

He said there are only about 20 pet stores in the state that would be affected by the new law and virtually none exist south of Interstate 80.

“Ninety-nine percent of all the animals that are purchased in Illinois are not purchased from these pet shops,” Chesney said. “It’s a niche market, primarily in the suburbs. Most people haven’t seen them or even heard of them or don’t even think that this is how they would purchase an animal.”

Chesney says both the House and Senate approved the bill with bipartisan, veto-proof majorities despite some vocal opposition.

“What the pet group was trying to do is distort the bill and say that this is going to limit choice and put people out of business,” Chesney said. “In many cases, they source out-of-state because we can’t regulate out-of-state breeding facilities. And they source from identified puppy mills. What we’re simply saying is stop buying from breeders that hurt animals.”

Chesney says the final form of this bill was unchanged from what he initially filed.

“I was told I was going to have no shot of getting this through the House,” Chesney said. “I worked my tail off and I got people on my side onboard, though not everybody agreed with me. And then I got the Democrats on board, though not all of them agreed with me.”

Dozens of municipalities in Illinois already have a similar law on the books, including the city of Chicago and Cook County. Five other states have enacted similar laws.

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