As America ushers in a new era of federal leadership, many state governments are also getting back to work—and at least one of them is making puppy mill reform a priority. Last Sunday, the ASPCA joined animal welfare advocates and Illinois lawmakers in Chicago to announce the arrival of Chloe’s Bill, legislation that will help stamp out the worst puppy mills in the Prairie State.
“Illinois has a unique opportunity to adopt one of the strongest commercial breeding laws in the country,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “As commercial breeding increases throughout the United States, particularly in the Midwest, it is reassuring that Illinois is recognizing the need for stronger laws before the prevalence of puppy mills becomes a blight on the state’s reputation.”
As currently written, Chloe’s Bill would:
* Limit to 20 the number of unaltered dogs a breeder may possess
* Ban anyone convicted of felony-level animal cruelty from acquiring a dog-breeding license
* Prohibit wire flooring in commercial breeding facilities and create guidelines for appropriate heating, cooling and ventilation
* Require pet stores and breeders to provide customers with a dog’s full medical history
* Establish penalties for violations, ranging from fines to animal seizure and license revocation
Sponsored by State Rep. John Fritchey and State Senator Dan Kotowski, Chloe’s Bill is named for a young cocker spaniel—rescued from a Macon County, IL, puppy mill—who was present at Sunday’s press conference. Now living with one of the animal control agents involved in the raid on her kennel, Chloe is the sole survivor from her litter. Like thousands of other commercial dog breeders in the U.S., the owners of Chloe’s kennel focused on producing as many puppies as possible with little regard for the physical and mental health of their animals. The dogs found at this puppy mill were matted with feces and urine, and infested with fleas and internal parasites. Many suffered from deformed paws from living their lives on wire-floored cages.
As Rep. Fritchey explained to the media, “We are not trying to do anything drastic; we’re not trying to do anything radical. We’re trying to implement standards for what is humane care, for what is decent care.” Fritchey added that although he expects the bill will encounter some opposition, any dog breeder who would oppose it is likely to be the type of breeder that should make consumers wary.
How can you help? It is animal lovers like you who bring about change. Even if you don’t live in Illinois, what happens in one state becomes easier to accomplish in others—so we need you in the fight. In the coming weeks, the ASPCA Advocacy Center will email our Illinois advocates, providing guidance on how they can join us in getting Chloe’s Bill passed. But wherever you live, don’t miss out on this or any other important legislative news from the ASPCA—please sign up to receive animal advocacy-related emails.