Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Federal Judges Uphold Pet Store Sales Bans

Seven federal courts considering pet retail sale bans have now issued favorable rulings upholding pet retail sale ordinances. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois twice dismissed an attempt by pet store owners and the Missouri Pet Breeders Association to strike down the pet retail ordinance passed in 2014 by Cook County Commissioners. In a similar case in East Providence, Rhode Island, the Court upheld a pet retail sale ordinance on summary judgment in March 2015. In his ruling, Chief Judge William E. Smith, Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island, said: 

 “A government’s interest in preventing the evils associated with ‘puppy mills,’ … including inhumane treatment of animals and overpopulation, are plainly legitimate ends.” 

Most recently, after a favorable court ruling, Chicago, Illinois pet stores are still prohibited from buying puppies from large-scale commercial breeders, also known as puppy mills. Several Chicago pet store owners challenged a pet retail ordinance passed in early 2014. Also, as of October, the Eastern District of New York dismissed the New York Pet Welfare Association’s lawsuit challenging New York City’s pet shop ordinances. 

Two more U.S. District Courts upheld pet retail sale ordinances this year in Sunrise, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona. There is now only one remaining lawsuit in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida being heard in the state court. 

There is no way to predict how long the remaining lawsuit and appeals will take. Corporate counsel in each municipality recommended passage of retail bans to protect the interest of the local community and support animal welfare. Municipalities across the country started restricting pet retail sales in 2006 and there are now over 90 cities, six counties and one state with restrictions in place. 


1. San Diego, CA – October 2014 Pet Store withdrew lawsuit. 
 2. East Providence, RI – March 2015 upheld. Pending appeal on Takings issue only. 
3. Cook County, IL – May 2015 upheld. 
4. Sunrise, FL – June 2015 upheld 
5. Phoenix, FL – July 2015 upheld. Pending appeal. 
6. Cook County, IL – August 2015 upheld. Pending appeal. 
7. New York, NY – October 2015 upheld. 
8. Chicago, IL – November 2015 upheld. 


 1. Palm Beach Gardens, FL – pending.

Learn how to pass Michigan's model pet retail ordinance. http://mfca.yolasite.com/ordinance.php

Credit: Puppy Mill Free Reno and The Puppy Mill Project.