Illinois SB1882 & HB2824: How Much for that Doggie?
Many of the vehicle transports at my local animal shelter travel downstate in Illinois, or they journey as far as Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, or Missouri to pick up orphaned animals scheduled for euthanasia in the next few days or hours for lack of room. Although we’re a small “Mom & Pop” organization, when cages are empty in the “intake room,” we’ll send committed volunteers out on the road for continual driving to save animals – most usually dogs. Still, as small as our no-kill shelter remains, we save and adopt over 1000 orphaned animals each year to loving families. Sounds miserable, but in the end it’s good work.
But it’s puppy mills that test our endurances and resolve to believe that there is any humanity in the world. We’ll get those calls on occasion when farm families in Ohio or Missouri decide they’ve had enough of their cottage industry in pushing out “designer” dogs – Pugs bred with Beagles, Chihuahuas bred with Malteses, teacup Poodles bred with Yorkies.
Imagine a crazed Frankenstein who could care less about his creations, only the numbers and profits.
A couple of years ago, one of our transports raced deep into Ohio to retrieve as many breeder -dogs who were too old or finished as viable donors before the local farmers began a collective target practice on any left behind.
Feeling squeamish? It gets worse, so skip ahead to the blue font.
Most are kept in cages so inadequately small they cannot turn around. They walk on open cage lattice, so their paws become splayed and unable to tread on normal flat surfaces. Their elimination falls directly below to the cage and its occupant below and below that, and below that. Their noses are split and scarred by the constant rubbing against the sides of the cage. Some kept jammed in groups in smaller cages may be missing parts of limbs or toes as a result.
When they arrive, we place the survivors in cages only 24 inches by 20 inches and 24 inches high. To the dogs, this might as well be the Grand Canyon. They crawl to the back corner, frightened by the expanse and the possible interaction of light and humanity.
A recent report marked URGENT by the Puppy Mill Project as well as an editorial in the Chicago Tribune warns “the pet store lobby is trying to get its paws on the state Animal Welfare Act.” I cannot be as pun-fully amusing as the Chicago Tribune, but I do appreciate their warning: “Industry representatives are pushing an amendment – disguised as a mandatory microchipping measure that would sweep aside local ordinances in Chicago and Cook County that ban the sale of dogs bred in puppy mills.”
According to the Puppy Mill Project, the two bills – appealingly entitled Animal Welfare Micro-Chipping – are not at all what they appear.
“At first glance, these bills appear to offer additional protections for animals – and we share and support their stated goals of protecting consumers, increasing transparency in the sourcing of dogs and cats, and screening out inhumane breeders. We also support the bills’ microchipping requirements. However, one section of these bills (Section 3.8) is misguided and will be extremely harmful to consumers and animals. Section 3.8 legitimizes sourcing dogs from inhumane breeding operations, relies on information that is no longer available for its enforcement, and prohibits cities from enacting their own laws regarding the sourcing and sale of dogs and cats in their communities.”
On the surface, the legislation appears perfectly rational and humane, like requiring breeders to hold a USDA license and clean record, just like the breeders in Ohio who tired of their “business.”
But Section 3.8 of the bill “allows pet stores to source from inhumane breeders without any means of researching those breeder.”
“Why is this legislation bad for animals and consumers?
1. It will not screen out inhumane breeders. This legislation offers limited restrictions on where pet stores can source dogs and cats, requiring breeders to have a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) license and meet nominal inspection criteria – but a USDA license and clean record do not mean that a breeder is humane. USDA standards are barely survival standards. Dogs can live in cages only six inches larger than their bodies for 24 hours a day. Stacked cages, mesh or wire flooring, and unlimited breeding are all acceptable. These facilities tend to mass produce puppies and operate solely for profit. USDA licensure sounds reassuring to a consumer but in reality it accomplishes very little.
2. It does not create transparency. This legislation ties its standards to information that is no longer available. Prior to January 2017, USDA breeder inspection records were publicly accessible through an online search tool. However, these records have now been removed from the USDA website indefinitely. Even more troubling, the legislation states that a pet store is considered in compliance even if the USDA records are unavailable. These bills were introduced after the USDA search tool had been removed – rendering the bills’ purported safeguards meaningless. There is currently no means for a consumer to research a breeder’s USDA record.
This legislation denies cities and towns in Illinois the authority to make their own laws protecting consumers and animals. These bills would overturn ordinances in Chicago, Cook County, Waukegan, and Warrenville –similar to legislation passed in more than 200 municipalities across the United States. These cities have determined that the sourcing and sale of dogs and cats is an issue of local concern for their communities and Illinois home rule units should be able to pass their own legislation as appropriate.”
I was astounded to find my Senator Emil Jones on the list of sponsors and I contacted him immediately.
Here are more names and directions from the Puppy Mill Project:
“What can you do?
Contact the sponsors and co-sponsors of these bills in the Illinois House and Senate and tell them that you appreciate their efforts and concern for these issues, but Section 3.8 must be eliminated in its entirety.
Tell them that removing the home rule provision (Section 3.8(e)) is NOT ENOUGH – keeping the rest of Section 3.8 explicitly allows pet stores to source from inhumane breeders without any means of researching those breeders.
Contact your own representative and senator (even if they are not sponsors of this bill) and tell them that animal welfare is important to you and that there is dangerous legislation (SB 1882/HB 2824) pending that you do not support.
If you live in Chicago: Call your alderman. Tell him or her that there is state legislation that will invalidate a city ordinance and deny Chicago’s home rule authority on an issue that is very important to you. Ask them to voice their opposition to SB 1882/HB 2824 and stand up for Chicago’s right to regulate the source of dogs and cats sold in our community. You can also do this for your Cook County Commissioner if you live in Cook County.
How to Contact your Representatives
Illinois House of Representatives Contacts:
State Representative Jerry Costello, II (representative who introduced the bill, representing the 116th District): (618) 282-7284 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence M. Walsh Jr. (chief co-sponsor, representing the 86th District, including Joliet): (815) 730-8600 or email@example.com
State Representative Norine Hammond (chief co-sponsor, representing the 93rd District): (309) 836-2707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Frese (chief co-sponsor, representing the 94th District): (217) 223-0833 or email@example.com
State Rep John C. D’Amico (chief co-sponsor, representing the 15th District): (773) 736-0218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
State Representative Margo McDermed (chief co-sponsor, representing the 37th District): (815) 277-2079 or McDermed@ilhousegop.org
Copy & paste to email them all at once: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; McDermed@ilhousegop.org
Illinois Senate Contacts:
Michael E. Hastings (senator who introduced the bill, representing the 19th District including Joliet and other communities): (815) 464-5431 or http://senatorhastings.com/contact-me
State Senator Jil Tracy (co-sponsor representing the 47th District): (217) 223-0837
Senator Emil Jones III (chief co-sponsor representing the 14th District): (773) 995-7748 or http://senatoremiljones.com/contact-us
Senator William R. Haine (co-sponsor representing the 56th District): (618) 465-4764 or http://www.senatorhaine.com/contact-us
New co-sponsor added, State Senator Sam McCann (representing the 50th District): (217) 245-0050 or SenatorMcCann@gmail.com
Locate your State Senator and State Representative: http://www.elections.il.gov/districtlocator/addressfinder.aspx
City of Chicago Alderman Lookup: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/iframe/lookup_ward_and_alderman.html
For more information, contact The Puppy Mill Project at firstname.lastname@example.org. “