The puppy mills debate has come to Naperville, and it's likely to be sticking around for the next two months.
Nine speakers addressed the Naperville City Council on Tuesday night about whether the city should ban the sale of puppies from so-called puppy mills.
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Speakers from three Naperville pet stores, the Naperville Area Humane Society, other animal organizations and a veterinarian who practices in Glen Ellyn and Yorkville showed the council there are a variety of opinions about where pet stores should be able to get the puppies they sell.
Opponents of so-called puppy mills say these substandard breeders keep the dogs they raise for sale in cramped and unsanitary conditions, and then sell pets with health problems to area pet stores.
"The best commercial breeder is still inadequate for a dog or cat," said Dee Santucci, co-chairwoman of the education committee of the Puppy Mill Project, a Chicago-based nonprofit that opposes puppy mills. "They are not going to cut into their profits in order to give these animals a better life."
Some Naperville pet store owners say they are careful to work with breeders who provide adequate environments for the puppies they raise and are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while others say they follow a "humane model" of selling dogs only from shelters or rescue organizations.
"No one would knowingly support the cruel practice" of puppy mills, said AdreAnne Tesene, owner of Two Bostons Pet Boutique, which follows the "humane model" and has two locations in Naperville. "They would never do something that would harm their pets knowingly."
Council members and Naperville Mayor George Pradel said they want more research on the topic of dog breeding regulations for retail shops before making any decisions.
"I love dogs, and I think we should have research before we take action on anything," Pradel said.
City staff members said the state is considering legislation that could address some of the concerns of puppy mill opponents. But police Chief Robert Marshall said animal control officers and supervisors in the police department will conduct their own research into the topic as well during the next 60 days.
Council members requested information on the proposed state legislation, details about U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations of puppy breeders, and ordinances other area municipalities have about the topic of puppy sales.
"We've got to look at both sides of this," council member Paul Hinterlong said. "Certainly we don't want to hurt a business owner if they are doing a good business and have a legitimate breeder that supplies them with dogs."
The council has scheduled its next discussion of the topic for Aug. 19.