Council Once Again Debates Pet Ordinance

After four years of waiting for either the state or county government to pass a stronger pet protection policy, Naperville City Council said the time to act is now.

“We agreed then, to wait to see if the state could accomplish anything, yet here we are again talking about this item,” said Mayor Steve Chirico. “So I believe it really is time for action.”

The Animal Care Act is designed to discourage so-called “puppy mills” from breeding and selling unhealthy pets to consumers by requiring a four-year warranty on any pets sold.

However, many activists at the latest City Council meeting claimed the proposed ordinance is not strong enough.

“This is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg,” said Amy Wolf, president of the A.D.O.P.T. Board of Directors. “The fact that a 48-month hereditary and congenital warranty would be necessary seems to acknowledge that there are indeed health issues which will appear in these animals due to their breeding even at a later date. Shouldn’t we address the issue of selling healthy animals in the first place rather than simply offering remuneration after the fact?”

“I want you to look at Lucy and I don’t want you to ever forget this dog’s face,” said animal activist Peggy Grandahl, who accompanied a dog purchased at Petland as well as its owner. “She is the face of your ordinance. Voting for your ordinance makes it obvious that you are 100% in support of the store’s business practices, sourcing, and limited warranties.”

Multiple public speakers suggested adopting a policy similar to Chicago and other cities in the area known as a “humane model”. This would prohibit pet stores from selling animals from commercial breeders, requiring them to sell only rescued pets.

Representatives from both Happiness Is Pets and Petland were there to show support for the ordinance as currently proposed.

“I would like to thank you for crafting and proposing a well-thought concise animal protection ordinance,” said Jon Berning, general manager of Happiness is Pets. “A 48-month warranty for congenital defects will be by far the most extensive of any codified statute in the country. This proposal puts the onus on pet stores to ensure they are offering the healthiest puppies possible from the healthiest parents through proper selective breeding practices.”

Some City Council members didn’t like the idea of involving warranties at all.

“I’m not in favor of four years,” said Councilman Paul Hinterlong. “I don’t think we should even be in the business of warranties as a city.”

Others felt that the warranty should have stricter penalties.

“The language of a warranty is something that needs to be flush but I think we need some kind of forcing function if we’re going to try to put this ordinance into place, that needs to take place. It has to have some teeth,” said Councilman Benjamin White.

The ordinance also would require pet stores, shelters, and animal control to microchip animals, as well as increase the fines for excessive noise.

Council also asked staff to specify temperature thresholds that would make keeping your animal in the car unsafe.

After city staff revises the ordinance, council could vote on it as early as its next meeting on June 19th.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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