New bill bans puppy mill deals with Illinois pet stores

Lucy is a pit bull mix that was rescued from a beading and dog fighting operation.

UPDATE: May 15, 2014 at 8:10 a.m.

A new bill that restricts the sale of dogs and cats in Illinois pet stores is one step closer to becoming law.

A Senate hearing on House Bill 4056 took place in Springfield Wednesday.

Members of the Humane Society of the United States testified in favor of bill.

It would require pet stores across the state to only sell dogs and cats from shelters and rescues.

That means pet stores would no longer be able to buy pets from puppy and kitten mills.

The bill has already passed the House.

It now remains with a Senate committee.


ORIGINAL STORY: May 6, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.

It doesn't take much to get



All she needs to see, is a smile on your face.

But the two-year-old pit bull mix could have had a very different life.

"She was only 8 weeks old when she was taken," Sally Westerhoff said.

Lucy was rescued during the second largest dog fighting raid in the U.S. Sally Westerhoff the executive director of the

Quincy Humane Society

was at that bust.

"The yard she came from was a breeding yard," she said. "There were over 100 dogs there and their purpose was to just generate a lot of dogs both to be used for fighting in that yard and also to be sold."

But a

new legislation

introduced by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn would stop that from happening.

"That would prevent the sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores that are bred in puppy and kitten mills," Westerhoff said.

House Bill 40-56 would make pet shops only sell dogs and cats that are acquired from an animal shelter or animal control facility. Westerhoff and other activists will be lobbying for the bill to pass during their trip to Springfield on Wednesday for

Illinois Voices for Animals Day


"As an animal welfare advocate it's important for me that people know where the pets they're getting come from," she said. "That they know they're getting healthy, psychologically and physically healthy animals."

Westerhoff says, if you saw puppy mill conditions, you would be sick to your stomach.

"There's just stacks and stacks of dogs, they never get out of their crates," she said. "They're just there to be bred. Their puppies are a cash crop so if they can't breed any longer than they're no longer useful."

The Humane Society recently released its list of

101 problem puppy mills

. The State of Missouri had the most mills on the list with 22.

"Pets that are sold in pet stores generally are shipped across state lines from mills in other states so people don't really know what the parents are like or what the origin of those animals are," Westerhoff said.

"I've heard bad things about buying from a pet store," Angela Thorne said. "I've also had a bad experience going into a pet store and seeing dogs ears yanked as they were being groomed so we opted out of going to a puppy store or a puppy mill to buy our dog."

But Angela Thorne did directly buy her dog from a breeder. That will remain legal if the law passes. Pet shops however won't have that choice. The bill prohibits pet stores from selling animals they bought from a breeder.

If House Bill 4056 passes, it will be the first law of its kind in the U.S to impose these restrictions. The bill passed the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Westerhoff and other activists will lobby for it to pass during Wednesday's trip to Springfield. She says it could save millions of animals that aren't as lucky as Lucy.

"That advantage that she has is she was never fought," she said. "She was just a baby when she was taken. I would have no hesitation to take her home. She has a great future ahead of her."

You can see Quincy Humane pets available for adoption by,

clicking here


See May's pets of the month