The Governor of Illinois has signed House Bill 1711, which restricts pet choice and consumer protection. The bill goes into effect in 180 days.
Illinois is now the fourth state (along with California, Maryland, Maine) to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The State of Washington also passed a law this year that banned any new pet stores from opening in the state.
Supporters claim that by banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores and restricting what shelters pet stores can work with, essentially all disreputable commercial breeders will be put out of business.
However, this claim is completely false. Instead, it will exacerbate the problem by taking away a regulated, licensed source for obtaining a pet and instead encouraging unregulated online sales, where scams and disreputable sellers are rampant. In addition, consider the following:
- Fewer than 4 percent of pets purchased in the US come from pet shops. Those that are, are subject to animal welfare and consumer protection laws. Furthermore, these laws limit choice and will do little to address any issues associated with substandard breeders.
- These bans reduce the average person’s access and ability to choose a pet with the predictable type, mandated care, and substantiated health background that come with purebred pets from regulated sources. This measure is regressive because people who lack the resources or do not have access to private hobby breeders will be the most directly impacted.
- Under the new law, the pet store must still provide consumer protection remedies for selling sick puppies or dogs with congenital or hereditary defects. AKC appreciates that documentation must be provided regarding the dog’s medical history (if known) and the reasons for the dog entering the shelter. The consumer protection provisions will be extremely difficult for pet stores to comply with, as defects and other medical issues may not be immediately known when a dog is adopted from a rescue or shelter.
It is for these reasons that AKC was joined by the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners, the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, and many other animal welfare groups in opposing this bill. Instead, AKC advocated for expansion of the state’s consumer protection laws to hold accountable all who sell dogs in the state, regardless of the source. This is a more effective solution to protect dogs and Illinois residents looking to find a pet for their family.
For more information on AKC’s position on this issue, visit www.akc.org/petchoice.