States Attorney.

Federal Judge Dismisses Complaint Against Cook County’s Puppy Mill Ordinance

Press Release - State's Attorney Successfully Defends Cook County's Puppy Mill Ordinance In Federal Court

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez successfully defended the Cook County’s Puppy Mill Ordinance – an act that bans the sale of commercially bred animals in the suburban, against complaints filed by pet store owners and breeders aiming to overturn the new ordinance. A federal judge granted the motion to dismiss the complaints.

The Missouri Pet Breeders Association (MPBA) and three Cook County pet store owners have filed a complaint and served a lawsuit against the Cook County, the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the Director of Cook County Animal & Rabies Control, in an attempt to terminate the enforcement of a new ordinance by the Cook County, which allegedly violates the United States and Illinois Constitutions. In behalf of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez filed a motion to dismiss the complaints, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In April of 2014, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Cook County Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Ordinance, which regulates the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits made by pet stores in the suburban Cook County; however, despite being scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2014, the enforcement of the new ordinance has been deferred due to an order made by the Court, in which litigation delays the implementation of the ordinance.

United States District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly granted the aforementioned motion made by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, ruling in favor of Cook County’s argument for dismissal of the lawsuit. Cook County argued they have the home rule authority, which permits the Office to regulate animal breeding and sales, a proposed ordinance that is not preempted by the federal and state law. Furthermore, Judge Kennelly ruled that the Puppy Mill ordinance does not violate the Equal Protection Clause and does not pose an impermissible burden to interstate commerce.

The Puppy Mill Ordinance passed by the Cook County requires selling of animals by “pet shop operators” that are obtained solely from breeders who possess a USDA Class “A”, among other important requirements. Moreover, it is obligatory to only acquire animal sales from licensed breeders. They owned no more than five female dogs, cats, or rabbits that are capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. The new ordinance allows Cook County to join Chicago in banning pet stores from purchasing animals from “puppy mills” – a large scale commercial breeding facility.

On the one hand, possession of more than five female dogs, cats, and rabbits capable of reproduction, under the new Cook County ordinance, will be banned from selling animals to licensed pet stores in the suburban Cook County. On the other hand, stores that break the ordinance will be subjected to a $500 fine per illegal transaction made with a puppy mill facility.

Animal rights activists commend the new ordinance made by Cook County, as they contend that these specific ordinances made by the Cook County and Chicago are necessary to eliminate animal abuse. In addition, it is reported that animals in puppy mills often face deplorable living and lacks access to essential grooming as well as veterinary care, wherein animals, later on, develop physical problems that pet owners more often decide to discard them for. As a result, the new puppy mill ordinance aims to reduce and combat the existence of animal abuse in such facilities.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez commends the Assistant State’s Attorneys Kent Ray and Jayman Avery, as well as the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – Civil Division for their exemplary and dedicated work on the case.

Updated: August 25, 2020

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