Flanked by Eddie Spaghetti and a dozen other furry, four-legged friends, Gov. Pat Quinn today signed a law aimed at protecting consumers before they buy a dog or cat that might come from a breeding mill.
As of Jan. 1, pet stores, animal shelters and control facilities must disclose on the cages of dogs and cats the name and location of their breeders, as well as the animal's medical history. The law is the first of its kind nationwide, said Jordan Matyas, Illinois state director of the Humane Society of the United States.
Existing state law requires sellers to disclose pet information to consumers, but the law lacks teeth and doesn't say when sellers have to provide the information, Matyas said.
"This is a very important way in Illinois for us to get humane treatment of our animals," Quinn said as the tails and tongues of pets standing near him wagged. "We don't want anybody buying an animal that has been inhumanely treated before its sale, and unfortunately that has existed."
Fines for disobeying the new law can cost up to $1,000 and include mandatory probation.Matyas said the law is key, but he also wants consumers to fight the urge to buy an adorable puppy from a pet shop and research the dog's breeder first.
Chuck Hartke is a consultant for Petland and Happiness Is Pets, a chain of suburban Chicago pet stores, and negotiated hard against what he said were stiff requirements that would put his clients out of business. He said he's happy with the final product.
"No pet shop wants to sell a puppy or a kitten that is not healthy because it's not good for business," Hartke said.
Well, it's a start, folks. Once you have a name, a little internet searching will tell you more about where that puppy in the window came from. You just have to do the research.