When Chicago banned the sale of puppy mill dogs at pet stores in March, the surrounding suburbs quickly made moves to follow suit. On Wednesday, Cook County was successful in doing just that: the suburban area will officially join Chicago in banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from commercial breeders, five months before the city's ban is even set to go into effect.
Like the ban in Chicago, the suburban ordinance will allow pet shops to sell animals only from government shelters, rescue agencies and humane societies. Suburbs of a certain size -- over 2,500 -- will have the opportunity to opt out of the ban, but as of its passing the legislation is expected to affect 13 stores in the Chicago area, in addition to 16 shops within city limits.
According to Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, who proposed the new ordinance, the ban arose from concern about the inhumane conditions at puppy mills, where massive numbers of animals are often kept in cramped, unsanitary cages. Such treatment has been shown literally to drive dogs, in particular, insane, and is decried by animal welfare activists for its inherent cruelty. "If I cannot regulate [breeders] directly because they are out of state, we're going to try to cut off the demand for those dogs and cats here," Fritchey said. "And, at the same time, try to reduce the number [of euthanized shelter animals]."