DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove officials are considering an ordinance that would prohibit the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits within the village.
Commissioners were presented three options at the Jan. 8 Village Council meeting, which included prohibiting sales, supporting a state Senate bill that regulates the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in DuPage and Will counties or doing nothing.
Commissioner Bill White said he supported the ban on retail sales, but called on the council to act swiftly to approve an ordinance.
“I’m aware that Naperville talked about this for over a year and ended up doing nothing and that’s the scenario I want us to avoid doing,” White said.
Commissioners Marge Earl, Greg Hose and Nicole Walus also voiced support for prohibiting the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in Downers Grove.
Commissioner Robert Barnett, however, voiced some concerns.
“The idea of not allowing any sales strikes me as, I don’t know, an overreach,” Barnett said.
He added that he was not convinced that the prohibition would help bring an end to puppy mills, the primary reasons similar legislation is being approved across the nation.
“The idea of banning sales in our community strikes me as a big, easy swing that doesn’t necessarily hit the mark,” Barnett said.
Mayor Martin Tully said the village will have to iron out the details, including administrative costs and procedures before moving forward.
“This is something that in concept is very appealing, very simple. In execution it’s more challenging,” Tully said.
DuPage County Board member Brian Krajewski strongly supported the ban and said similar legislation is gaining momentum throughout the county.
“It’s not if it’s going to be banned, it’s when,” said Krajewski, a former Downers Grove mayor. “It’s going to happen. It’s happening all over the country in different municipalities and different counties.”
Krajewski said the puppy mill industry has well-funded lobbyists, which is why DuPage County is looking for as many communities as possible to support the ban.
“We’re looking for Downers Grove to take the lead,” Krajewski said.
Jonathan Berning, whose family owns Happiness is Pets, said the proposed ban would have a dire impact on his business.
Berning said there is a distinct difference between dog breeders and puppy mills and offered to take commissioners to the breeders with whom he does business.
“Please allow me to be very clear. Happiness is Pets does not purchase from puppy mills,” Berning said.
He added that the proposed ban will do nothing to close puppy mills.
“If your goal is to eradicate puppy mills, I can assure this will not shut down one single puppy mill,” he said.
Laura Crawford, president and CEO of Chamber 630, echoed Berning’s concerns.
“As we discuss puppy mills, only one business will be affected,” Crawford said in reference to Happiness is Pets.
The council is expected to take the matter up at a February meeting.