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Oswego passes pet store law, but won’t ban puppy sales

Updated: December 30, 2012 3:44PM

The Oswego Village Board passed an ordinance ensuring cleanliness standards for pet shops, but the new law fell short for a lot of animal activists.

The ordinance requires pet store owners to be licensed with the State of Illinois and comply with Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act. It also sets standards for cleanliness, adequate cage sizes and food and water.

But residents and advocates for pets with the Puppy Mill Project initially sought an ordinance that would have banned the sales of dogs and cats in Oswego, in a proposal brought to the village board in October.

“All pet stores sell puppy mill puppies,” said Rebecca Wilhelmi, a member of the Puppy Mill Project. “It’s all about education. We have 450 signatures on a petition, and those people know, and those people don’t want pet stores in Oswego.”

That was in response to a new pet store, Love Our Dogs, which advocates said is among those pet stores selling puppies from mills, where breeding dogs are kept in substandard conditions, often outdoors with little or no shelter or health care and without adequate food and water.

More than 450 Oswego residents have signed a petition to ban further pet stores that sell puppies and kittens, according to Wilhelmi.

The ordinance brought before the board Tuesday night, however, does not ban the stores, but rather sets standards for cleanliness and humane treatment, and allows the village to fine stores that do not comply. Previously, said staff, the village could only forward complaints on to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“It just adds more laws,” said breeder and resident Diane Selmer. “Do we need it?”

But board members, in a close vote, said the ordinance would help maintain standards.

“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.”

The board voted 4-3, with Village President Brian LeClercq casting the tie-breaking vote. Trustees Judith Sollinger, Terry Michels, and Scott Volpe voted against.

“I don’t think its our responsibility to legislate where people are going to buy a dog from,” said Michels. “Again, I don’t agree with puppy mills, I don’t think the ordinance does anything to address it.”

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