The city of Chicago on Wednesday joined other cities in passing an ordinance banning the retail sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits obtained from large-scale breeders.
The ordinance was approved 49-1 in the City Council.
City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who was behind the measure, told NBC Chicago that the ordinance "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."
The ordinance does state that people will not be prevented from obtaining a dog or cat directly from a breeder, breed-specific rescue or shelter.
The Humane Society of the United States says in most states, a breeding kennel can legally keep dozens, even hundreds, of dogs in cages for their entire lives, as long as the dogs are given the basics of food, water, and shelter
Commercial breeders are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Chicago-based Puppy Mill Project, who spearheaded the legislation, says of the reported 3,300 commercially-licensed USDA breeding facilities, the large majority operate with numerous violations that go unmonitored, leading to suffering and ultimately the death of the dogs.
"The unknown truth is that the USDA is overwhelmed with the burdening task of tracking unlicensed large-scale breeders who use the Internet and newspaper advertisements to entice unknowing individuals to buy their dogs. Licensed or not, it is still a puppy mill and the conditions in which the dogs are forced to live is inhumane and unregulated," they say.
The Puppy Mill Project says for every dog sold, there are two dogs that are suffering in a mill.
Last month, 121 dogs and more than 60 other animals were rescued from a suspected Jefferson County, Ark., puppy mill after authorities discovered them living in filth and suffering from a lack of basic care.
The new Chicago ordinance says by promoting the adoption of dogs and cats, the euthanasia rate at Chicao shelters will be reduced and the financial burden on City taxpayers who pay much of the cost to care for and euthanize many thousands of animals will also be reduced.
San Diego; Los Angeles; Toronto; Austin, Texas; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, have passed similar laws.