Illinois bill aimed at ending ‘puppy mills’ could shutter pet stores

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A new Illinois bill could ban pet stores from selling animals obtained from a breeder in an effort to put an end to puppy mills.

The American Humane Society says “puppy mills” are operations that practice fast breeding under poor conditions.

House Bill 3646 amends the Animal Welfare Act and “Provides that a pet shop operator may offer for sale a dog or cat only if the dog or cat is obtained from an animal control facility or animal shelter.”

If passed, the bill could mean the closure of Furry Babies, a pet store located inside CherryVale Mall.

“There are puppy mills out there that exist in the United States but those are not where our dogs come from,” said Ana Soskic, president of Furry Babies.

The bill would require pet stores sell rescue animals only.

“We actually oppose this bill,” said Ana Soskic, president of Furry Babies. “It will do nothing to address the welfare of dogs. We would have to close, and that means there’s going to be an opportunity for the black market to thrive more than it already is, with rescues purchasing from bad breeders [who] we’ve never worked with.

Freeport State Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-89th) proposed the bill.

“This would eliminate the entire practice and, hopefully, puppy mills that are generally out-of-state, their business will be impacted. It’ll force them to close, which would be my great hope, and we’ll encourage their business to do a different practice,” Chesney said.

Stephanie Lauer, executive director at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, 111 N 1st St, says she agrees with most of the proposed legislation, but says it’s a Band-Aid to an even bigger problem.

“It doesn’t hit at the focal point, which is the breeder. Population doesn’t come as an end result. It has to start at the beginning,” Lauer said. “So, if they are trying to do that for population control, they have to go backwards and take a few steps back and get to the breeder.”

Soskic agrees, saying that implementing stricter breeding standards would be more effective than closing down pet stores.

“We believe every person should have their own choice on where they get their dog from, and should not be limited,” she said.

Chesney said if the bill passes the General Assembly, it won’t impact individual breeders. But, it would force businesses like Furry Babies and Petland to make changes.

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