This week, a Chicago City Council committee gave initial approval to a proposal that would ban hobby breeding in the city without extensive permits and requirements.
Those who reside, have registered a litter, or participate in breed rescue activities in Chicago are encouraged to reach out to the City TODAY, express your concerns, and ask them to oppose this proposal. Scroll down for more information.
Current Chicago code prohibits pet stores from sourcing from anywhere except a publicly-run shelter, pound kennel or animal control facility, or a humane society or rescue organization. Proposed Ordinance O2020-2827 is an attempt to stop those groups and breeders that falsely identify themselves as rescues from sourcing to pet stores in the city. AKC agrees with the city that those who are engaging in dishonest and disreputable business practices must be held accountable.
In addition to addressing this issue, however, the proposal would also make numerous changes to city pet animal ordinances that could have harmful unintended consequences, including:
- License mandate for hobby and home-based breeders – Currently, city code exempts those with fewer than 5 intact female dogs from the definition of “animal care facility”. This proposal would remove this exemption and further define “engaged in the business of breeding” as anyone who owns a female dog “that reproduces”. This would require all hobbyists and home-based breeders that breed one dog to obtain an animal care facility license.
While some requirements of this license are perfectly reasonable, some are not practical for those with one litter of puppies in their home. For example, under current law, a licensee could be required to have a minimum of two staff on site if they allow dogs to “commingle”. It is unclear how this would be enforced.
- Mandatory surrender or sterilization of breeding female and litter for unlicensed breeders – If a breeder does not obtain an animal care facility permit, they will be penalized unless they surrender the mother and all puppies to a shelter or rescue within 30 days of the birth of the litter, or provide documentation from a veterinarian that the mother and all offspring have been sterilized within three months of the birth of the litter – even though numerous scientific studies show that juvenile spay/neuter could have detrimental long-term consequences on a dog’s health.
- Implications for breed rescue – For the purposes of sourcing to pet stores in the city, the proposal clarifies that a rescue does not include a “commercial producer” (defined as anyone who breeds dogs or cats for the purpose of selling the offspring), anyone who obtains dogs from a commercial producer, anyone who facilitates a sale from a commercial producer, or has “common personnel” with a commercial producer – including board members, employees, or managers. Rescues may also not be an affiliated business with a “commercial producer”.
Again, AKC understands and agrees with the concern with “retail rescue” and false rescues. However, we are concerned that the proposal implies that reputable breeders should not be involved in rescue work. This undermines the dedicated volunteer efforts of breed experts and breeders who are part of AKC clubs and who regularly help dogs in need get appropriate assessments, care, and rehoming.
- Visit the “Breeding Regulations and Restrictions” key issues page in the AKC Legislative Action Center.
- View the article The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders
- Visit the “Mandatory Spay/Neuter” key issues page in the AKC Legislative Action Center.
What You Can Do
The Chicago City Council is expected to vote on this measure on July 22, although an official agenda is not yet posted. More information will be available soon on testifying at the committee hearing.
Those who reside in Chicago are encouraged to do the following immediately:
- Type your address in the form on the Chicago City Clerk’s website and contact your city alderman to ask them to oppose the ordinance as currently written. Let them know you are a hobbyist and how this would impact you and your breeding program. Let them know the steps you take to ensure the health of your dogs, and what you do to ensure the dogs you breed are in good homes.
- Contact the sponsor, Alderman Brian Hopkins, and respectfully explain your concerns with the proposal: Ward02@cityofchicago.org
AKC Government Relations and the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners are closely monitoring this proposal. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.