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Puppy Mill Ordinances Seek to Regulate Conditions of Animals for Sale

Author: David McArdle

March 10, 2020

Recently, the City of Naperville became the latest of more than a dozen municipalities that have adopted regulations regarding or prohibiting the sale of animals from pet stores. The Naperville ordinance allows the sale of cats and dogs by pet stores but requires that the animal come from non-commercial breeders, such as nonprofit organization dedicated to the “protection and humane treatment of animals.”

Pet stores and breeders are currently subject to licensing, with certain information about any pet sold to be provided by the breeder to the store and from the store to the purchaser. While state licensing standards and other law raises a challenge to a municipality’s ability to further regulate, the ordinances have invoked public safety and welfare concerns to justify the additional local regulation. Naperville, for example, cited the following as a preamble in its ordinance: “inadequate care and conditions at commercial breeders can lead to behavioral and health issues in the puppies and kittens and ultimately lead to increased financial and emotional costs for the purchasing consumer.”

Concurrent with the wave of puppy mill ordinances have been state legislative efforts to regulate inhumane conditions of animals kept and raised by breeders. Two bills have died without action in the past three years, although a new bill has been introduced. The current legislation (HB 4105) is more along the lines of the Naperville option in that it adds standards for operation and sale of animals. But it would not prohibit a pet store from selling a dog or cat entirely.

Municipalities are advised that the issue of pet breeding and sales is publicly sensitive and that an open question remains as to the extent a municipality may regulate or prohibit pet stores from selling animals due to the state business licensing structure.