Despite the pet store ban, puppy mill dogs are still finding their way into the Rockford area.

It’s been nearly two years since Illinois made it illegal for pet stores to sell puppies and kittens that didn’t come from pet rescues or shelters.

Part of the purpose of the law is to prevent retailers from selling animals and, by extension, commercial breeders, commonly known as puppy mills, where females are bred multiple times, and their litters. are stolen for profit.

So far, local animal advocates say the Humane Pet Store Law, which took effect on Feb. 23, 2022, makes it harder for pet stores that make the bulk of their revenue from selling dogs and cats to do business in Illinois. get for

The Rockford area was the last such store. Dear childrenwhich operated at Cherryville Mall for several years before closing earlier this month.

Even after the Humane Pet Store passed the law, Fairy Babies claimed the legislation was flawed. The Rockford store and two other locations were also cited by the state for operating without licenses, allegations the owners denied.

Opponents of retailers like Fur Babies say they’re thankful there are currently no pet stores in Rockford that source dogs from breeding facilities. They also know that there will always be those who break the law or find ways around it.

More: The state says Furry Babies in Rockford is operating without proper licensing.

“With the Internet and social media, you can easily find puppies in other states,” said Amy Mahalko of Rockford, who breeds dogs for pet care, Tiny Paws and other rescue organizations. “There are people who will travel.”

And there is a lot of money in it. Sellers can fetch thousands of dollars for dogs, including “designer breeds” that customers take home without question. Unless a breeder proves otherwise, the consumer may have no way of knowing whether their new pet came from a puppy mill or a small backyard breed that would have done the same. Is.

There are only five other states that have banned the sale of dogs in pet stores, which means the demand for commercial breeding organizations is still quite high. This is why rescues see animals from such facilities every day.

“Hopefully, other states will crack down and follow suit,” Mahlko said. “Then puppy mills can be a thing of the past.”

Not all dog breeders are bad actors, say experts. There are high-end operations throughout the country that produce excellent purebred, even mixed-breed animals. But clever marketing can make them difficult to identify.

“If you want something special, get real educated about a breeder versus a puppy mill or a backyard breeder or a pet store,” said Amber Pinnon, adoption and volunteer coordinator for Winnebago County Animal Services. “All pet stores are going to tell you that what you’re getting from them is not from a backyard breeder. But the best way to tell is if you’re making an educated choice. If you can actually see the parents of the puppy you are getting.

Good breeders are almost always willing to open their doors to customers and let them see their animals, Panon said. When they’re not, he said, that could be a red flag.

“If they don’t let you see your mother and your home situation, there’s probably a good reason,” she said. “Maybe there’s something they don’t want you to see.”

The Illinois Humane Pet Store Law also prohibits pet loans, which are usually high-interest plans with hefty fees. They are also great sales tools for retailers selling designer breeds and purebred dogs who don’t already have the cash.

“It’s hard to see animals being sold like that when we have these kinds of breeds here and we have purebreds,” Pinan said. “So, why pay so much for an animal when you can adopt for much less?”

Across the country, pet stores and breeders fetch anywhere from $500 to $2,500 or more, depending on the breed. It usually costs about $100 to $500 to adopt a dog from a shelter or pet rescue.

“It’s already been replaced. It already has a microchip and has the vaccinations it needs,” Pinn said. “So, it may be a more economical option for people as well as a better option for pets.”

Jim Hagerty covers business, growth and development and other general news topics for the Rockford Register Star. Email him at

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