A committee of Orland Park trustees Monday endorsed replacing a ban on the sale of commercially bred pets passed in Cook County earlier this year with a local ordinance focusing on disclosure requirements.
The village began considering the issue in April after the Chicago City Council and Cook County Board of Commissioners banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from large-scale commercial breeders in an attempt to keep pet stores from selling animals raised in puppy mills.
Unlike those actions which require stores to sell animals from government shelters, rescue agencies and humane societies or, in Cook County's case, federally licensed breeders with fewer than five reproducing female animals, the ordinance that received support from the Public Safety Committee focuses on what stores are required to tell customers about the pets they sell.
"Everybody should have all the information needed," Trustee Pat Gira said.
If approved by the full village board, the ordinance would require pet shops post written disclosures near the animal's cage or in a location publicly accessible without request as well as on the store's website. Customers would have to sign a form acknowledging they received information including all medical treatment received by the animal while in the pet shop's care, the chain of custody and details about the breeder — whether he or she is federally licensed — how many animals are kept on average and names and license numbers to help customers do due diligence, according to documents provided to trustees.
Pet stores that fail to comply or create false disclosures or permits would face fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second offense and/or six months' imprisonment and potential suspension or loss of the shop's business license.
The proposal isn't as stringent as Chicago's ordinance but does provide more protection than Cook County's, which has "too many loopholes," said Dianne Arp, Chicago outreach coordinator for the Companion Animal Protection Society.
"There are so many checks and balances, it's the strongest we've seen short of a ban," Arp said.
The owner of the only Orland Park business — Happiness is Pets — that would be affected by the regulations, told trustees at previous meetings that a ban would unfairly punish responsible pet store owners that work with humane breeders. A representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Arp said she has concerns about monitoring and enforcement. Village staff previously told trustees code enforcement officers may need additional training or manpower to enforce pet shop regulations, but Trustee Dan Calandriello said the village no longer anticipated needing additional resources because with an ordinance focused on strict disclosure rules, "either it's there or it's not."
Arp asked trustees to consider working with Companion Animal Protection Society to create a volunteer task force that could help monitor pet stores' compliance.
"We didn't win the war, but it is a big victory," Arp said.