The Village of Oswego narrowly passed a new ordinance that will enforce the cleanliness requirements of pet stores and make it more difficult for businesses moving into town to sell dogs.
The ordinance will require pet store owners to be licensed with the State of Illinois and to also comply with Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. Requirements on cleanliness, food and cage sizes were also outlined. A full outline of the ordinance can be viewed here.
Members of the Puppy Mill Project and concerned residents had earlier come to the board asking for an ordinance that would have banned all puppy and kitten sales in the village that did not come from individual breeders or shelters.
While the ordinance does not outright ban the selling of puppies, it does require pet stores to sign a 12-month lease for the space. This will, according to the ordinance, prevent sellers from setting up "Halloween-type" shops for several months and then moving out.
Some members of the Village Board expressed doubts as to why an ordinance was needed in the village at this time.
“I like the idea of taking care of the animals,” said trustee Tony Giles. “I just find it hard to pass an ordinance where there isn’t even an issue.”
He added that the village was better off educating residents about puppy mills than passing an ordinance he said over 85 percent of the population wouldn’t even know about.
“The public has the responsibility to do the research,” added trustee Terry Michels. “We can’t regulate all those folks. We have no control over where they choose to buy a puppy.”
Michels said the ordinance isn’t even addressing the issue, if puppy mills were the main concern.
“I don’t agree with puppy mills, but I don’t think the ordinance does anything for it,” he said.
“It really doesn’t make a statement for the village one way or the other that we’re trying to be animal activists,” said Trustee Gail Johnson. “I do think it’s important we do take a stance on cleanliness and treatment.”
Jill Edelman of the Puppy Mill Project said she was “thrilled” the village had chosen to pass the ordinance. While it isn’t entirely what she had hoped for, Edelman said the decision is “proactive rather than reactive” and it will make it harder for pet stores, which she and Puppy Mill Project advocates claim sell puppy mill puppies, to open in Oswego.
The only current pet store in Oswego that sells puppies is Love Our Dogs on Route 34, which opened earlier this year.
Edelman said she really liked Giles’ suggestion of educating the public and his idea of doing so through the Oswego newsletter and hopes to go forward with that.
For next year, Edelman said her focus is working on transparency, requiring the entire truth of where each puppy comes from that is sold in pet stores.
The village board voted 4-3, with Village President Brian LeClercq casting the tie-breaking vote. Trustees Terry Michels, Judy Sollinger and Tony Giles voted against the ordinance.