Understand That Chicago’s Ban Against Companion Animal Retail Sales Isn’t A Complete Prohibition (Part I)

In our blog of March 31, 2014, we wrote the following:

The following announcement was recently posted on the website of the Chicago City Clerk: 

MARCH 05, 2014

From the Office of Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza:    

Thank you! Because of your passionate support for animal advocacy, today we passed a piece of landmark legislation in the City of Chicago.

Earlier today, the Chicago City Council voted 49-1 to approve the Companion Animal & Consumer Protection Ordinance. It requires retail pet stores to source dogs, cats and rabbits only from shelters and other humane not-for-profit organizations. 

The legislation cuts off a pipeline of animals from the horrendous puppy mill industry and instead moves the City to a retail pet sales model that focuses on adopting out the many, many homeless animals in need of homes in this City.

It is our hope that the overwhelming vote today will create a flood of support for similar legislation throughout the rest of the country. Again, thank you for helping make history in the City of Chicago. This truly is a change for the better and it would not have happened with you.

As ISAR’s supporters know, we have prepared our own Model Prohibition of Retail Commercial Sale of Dogs and Cats Statute.

The following are ISAR’s initial comments regarding the Chicago ordinance’s provisions, including comparisons to our Model Statute.

1. It is great progress that one of America’s largest cities has recognized the infamous existence of companion animal mills. Too few cities have, and mills continue to crank out countless numbers of these living creatures with little or no oversight.

2. As ISAR has stressed in the memorandum accompanying our Model Statute, it is essential that anti-retail sale legislation contain legislative findings. The Chicago ordinance commendably does, extensively.

3. Chicago’s findings — expressed in predicate “Whereas” statements — include information about the constitutional source of the city’s legislative power; information about mills in general, and their retail impact on the city in particular; abuses suffered by animals in mills; the lack of enforcement resources and consequential operational immunity enjoyed by mills; the city’s euthanasia rate supported by apparently unimpeachable facts; costs to the city for animal care; benefit to the city, financially and otherwise, in prohibiting the conduct proscribed by the ordinance; how pet stores can prosper without selling companion animals;  consumers’ ability, despite the ordinance, to obtain a companion animal from a breeder, rescue organization, or shelter; that other cities have enacted legislation affecting sale of mill animals, some banning entirely the retail sale of rabbits no matter their source; how current federal, state, and city laws do not deal with this subject; and why it is in the interest of the city and its inhabitants to regulate the sale of companion animals originating in mills.

Based on these findings — which provide an unimpeachable factual basis upon which to rest the new law — the ordinance defines “offers for sale,” “retailer,” and “rescue organization.”

Next comes the core provision, Section 4-384-015 (b): “A retailer may offer for sale only those dogs, cats or rabbits that the retailer has obtained from (1) an animal control center, animal care facility, kennel, pound or training facility operated by any subdivision of local, state or federal government; or (2) a humane society or rescue organization.” (Our emphasis.)

In other words, there can be no retail sale of dogs, cats, or rabbits in the City of Chicago of animals that originated in a mill.

Other provisions require certain disclosures when an authorized sale occurs.  

ISAR applauds the City of Chicago for taking what we consider to be not the last word on the subject, but rather a desirable way-station on the road to ban all retail sales. In this regard, please note that the Chicago ordinance still allows sale by kennels. ISAR opposes this breeder exception. Note also that if allowed “sales” from other entities named in Section 4-384-015(b) are in reality adoptions, we are in agreement.

Please see ISAR’s Model Statute.


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