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Pet shop owners say puppy mill bill punishes wrong people

Lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would make Illinois the first state to require pet shops to only sell animals acquired from animal shelters,...

Lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would make Illinois the first state in the nation to require pet shops to only sell dogs and cats they've acquired from animal shelters and not from commercial breeders.

"I hate it. It makes me sick, it's like they're trying to put the pet shop industry out of business," said George Bingham, owner of Teske's Lawn and Garden, which sells puppies from local breeders.

"People want puppies. If you have small children, you don't want to have someone else's dog. You don't want to take the chance that maybe that dog has been abused before," he said. "The state of Illinois in general hates business, and they're really targeting pet stores."

Bingham says recent strict regulations in Illinois are already keeping breeders away from doing business in the state, resulting in empty puppy cages.

"Normally this time of year, we'd have ten puppies in these cages right now. They're empty," he said.

The latest bill is aimed at putting puppy mills out of business by ending their ability to sell animals to pet shops.

The legislation would still allow individuals to buy directly from responsible breeders.

"I think it's a great idea. I think it's a great start," said proponent Patti McCrae, Executive Director of the Quad City Animal Welfare Center, a no-kill shelter in Milan.

"If this really does take off, it might take animals out of the shelters, maybe shelters could focus on education and spaying and neutering," McCrae said.

Bingham says his breeders are responsible and says lawmakers are punishing the wrong people and hitting business owners where it hurts.

"Don't get me wrong. I support the shelters and we would work with them as much as we possible could, but this is not the solution".

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowksi of Park Ridge. He says it will ensure "safer and more humane treatment of pets."

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