60 speakers line up for 'puppy mill' debate at Naperville meeting
Animal rights advocates came out with their talking points ready Tuesday evening as Naperville again took up a subject that has remained unresolved for five years: pet sales regulations.
Advocates representing rescue groups, some of them in yellow "GO HUMANE" shirts, encouraged the council to adopt an ordinance that would prohibit the sales of dogs and cats from commercial breeders, which many refer to as "puppy mills."
"The treatment of mill animals is not humane," Naperville resident Nancy Laures said.
"We urge you to pass this long overdue ordinance for Naperville," Lisa Paschal Alcorn said.
But the council also heard from speakers favoring the other option under consideration: adopting an ordinance that would require pet stores to ensure the breeders from which they source their dogs and cats follow ten standards of care put forward by the Humane Society of the United States.
Those standards include regulations about the size, stacking, flooring and temperature of animal cages at breeder facilities and the treatment of retired dogs. Several canine health and welfare measures also would be regulated, such as access to exercise areas, socialization, preventive care, grooming and potable water.
Reba Osborne, director of government affairs and business development for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, called higher care standards "a step in the right direction" and said the alternative of banning sales of pets from commercial breeders would put pet stores out of business. A third option of a local task force to "develop guidelines that would work for us all" is the idea the chamber most supports, she said.
Animal advocates had a rebuttal ready, saying the city's customer base supports several stores that only adopt out rescue animals and questioning how the city would enforce standards on breeders that typically are located in other cities or states.
"All that could be done is to take the word of pet stores that are taking the word of the breeders that regulations are being met," said Amy Wolf, president of ADOPT Pet Shelter in Naperville.
City council members were slated to hear from roughly 60 speakers -- including a commercial breeder, a pet store operator, a county board member, a state representative, animal shelter operators and pet owners -- during their first reading of the two potential ways to regulate pet sales. A vote is expected at a later meeting.
Discussion on Tuesday also covered demand for purebred puppies, health issues of animals purchased at pet stores and breeder inspection practices.
The debate followed several rounds of talks about potential pet regulations since advocates first came to the Naperville City Council opposing puppy mills in summer 2014. Advocates and some legislators also have pushed for a state law to ban the sales of certain animals from commercial breeders, but past proposals at both the city and state level have not been enacted.