Chicago has banned pet stores from the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits that come from commercial breeding operations, commonly referred to as puppy mills, and said all animals sold in the city must come from pounds and rescue organizations.
The prohibition is seen as a major win for the Windy City's animal shelters and animal welfare community.
Puppy mills contribute to pet overpopulation, particularly in urban areas, and are known for their poor living conditions that lead to diseased animals often being sold to unsuspecting pet owners across the country.
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"It cuts off a pipeline of the animals coming from the horrendous puppy mill industry and instead moves us towards a retail pet sales model that focuses on adopting out the many, many homeless animals in need of loving homes in this city," City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who supported the measure, told NBC Chicago
The measure, which was passed Tuesday by the Chicago City Council in a 49-1 vote, has made Chicago a "national leader in humane laws" for pets, Mendoza added.
"This ordinance prevents, hopefully ... these terrible practices of having these animals being abused day after day in small cages," added Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno.
Alderman Brendan Reilly, the only member of the city council who opposed the measure, said his vote was out of fear that the puppy-selling operations would simply move outside of city limits and continue their operations in the suburbs surrounding Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I support the intent of the ordinance, but not the approach," Reilly said. "The reality is that these bans don't end the practice or the product. They just push the practice to the suburbs."
Stores that sell puppies, kittens, and rabbits previously obtained from commercial facilities will now be required to work with local humane societies if they wish to continue selling animals from their locations.
Not everyone welcomed the new measure, particularly the owners of the 16 pet stores currently located in Chicago.
"I don't need Chicago. Chicago needs us," Susan Nawrocki, owner of Hug-A-Pup on the Northwest Side, told the Chicago Tribune. "Businesses that come to Chicago are not treated the way they should be treated."
Nawrocki said she will not close her shop but will instead relocate to the city's suburbs.
With the passage of the new law, Chicago joins the ranks of Phoenix, San Diego, and Los Angeles, along with 40 other major North American cities, that have taken steps to ban the sale of commercially bred pets, The Huffington Post noted
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