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A proposal to ban dog breeding without extensive permits and requirements and to limit consumer protection has been resurrected in the Chicago City Council.  The proposal is set for consideration by the council’s Health and Human Services Committee on April 12.

Those who reside, have registered a litter, or participate in breed rescue activities in Chicago are strongly urged to reach out to the committee, express your concerns, and ask them to oppose this proposal.  Scroll down for more information.

Summary:

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 SO2020-2827 was originally introduced in 2020 as 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 anyone who is, obtains animals from, or facilitates a sale from a “commercial producer” (defined as anyone who breeds dogs or cats for the purpose of selling the offspring). Rescues may also not be an affiliated business or have any employees in common with a “commercial producer”.

    Again, AKC understands and agrees with the concern with “retail rescue” and false rescues. However, as currently written, this 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.

  • Impact on consumer protection – The underlying code is a significant attack on consumer protection, as it removes the ability for pet store customers to buy a dog from a legal, regulated source. Additionally, it would limit the ability of future pet owners to obtain the type or breed of dog they wish. There are residents in Chicago who may not have access to a local breeder of the breed they want. Instead, they may wish to purchase a dog from a regulated, licensed pet store where they can still get the consumer protections, the health history, and ongoing professional relationships they desire.  It is this unfortunate reality that has led some pet stores to choose to engage in the practice of working with fraudulent rescues in order to secure animals to sell.

The proposal also repeals the requirement that pet stores must still provide certain information about the animals to their customers. It no longer requires pet stores to provide health and other important information about a specific animal. These existing provisions are essential because they help consumers make a well-informed decision and determine if the pet is a good fit for their family and lifestyle – which ultimately ensure a lower rate of dogs entering shelters and rescues, and ensure the animals get the home and care they need and deserve.

Read AKC’s article “Latest Pet Store Proposal Bad for Dogs, Chicago Pet Owners” for more talking points and information.

What You Can Do:

The Chicago City Council Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to consider Proposal SO2020-2827 on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 10:00 am.

Chicago residents are encouraged to express your opposition to the committee by doing the following:

Contact the committee prior to the hearing: Written comments may be submitted to  Committeeonhealthandhumanrelations@cityofchicago.org
Written testimony will be accepted until 5:00 pm central time on Friday, April 9.

Sign up to testify via telephone at the hearing:  To sign up to testify, call (312) 744-6800 and leave a voice message with your name and telephone number, and a message saying you wish to testify at the Health and Human Relations Committee hearing on Monday, April 12. Requests to comment will be accepted until 8:00 AM on Friday, April 9, 2021. Any individual wishing to participate must be available at 10:00 AM on the day of the meeting and have access to a touch-tone telephone.

AKC Government Relations and the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners are closely monitoring this proposal.  For more information, contact AKC GR at doglaw@akc.org.

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