Pet shop owners say puppy mill bill punishes wrong people

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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."


  • chaoticscribbles

    What a controversial topic, not quite sure how to feel on this one, at first it seems like a good idea – all them animals in shelters need homes too – but I never even considered the businesses that would be out of pocket. hmmm a very thought provoking post!

  • cowpusher

    Let’s see. Spay and neuter all pets. No new animals to be used for breeding. Result = extinction of cats and dogs.

  • David Simons

    I’m really disappointed at George Bingham’s reaction to this. I do a lot of shopping there and had no idea he has such an attitude about Illinois ‘hating’ business. That’s patently untrue and he should know better as his business has been here for decades.

    In respect to his ‘responsible breeders’, when was the last time he visited one of their kennels to see for himself how the dogs are treated? What is his definition of ‘responsible’ breeders.

    With so many animals crowding the shelters here, it would seem the only ‘responsible’ act by pet shops is to take those animals on and find homes for them. Shelters always have plenty of puppies and kittens to fill his empty cages.

  • Stacey

    “Responsible breeders” do not sell to pet stores. To imply puppies cannot be found at shelters is simply not true. Just take a look at local shelters and, I am sure you will find the puppy of your dreams.

  • burgs

    If a shelter has puppies, then they are imported from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Korea or China, which can introduces questionable health issues to US animals and can be raised in totally unregulated conditions that may be far worse than in US puppy mills.

    • Lindsay

      Wow. You are seriously misinformed. I worked at a shelter for 6 years and we had plenty of puppies, and none were imported from foreign lands. In fact, ALL of them were surrendered or dumped by owners from the Quad Cities area who didn’t want them anymore for whatever reason. The shelter spent a lot of money to feed them, get them up to date on medical care, and house them until they were adopted. There are plenty of homeless puppies and kittens to go around — anyone who says differently is lying and likely has no shelter experience. Please go to a shelter and take the time to meet a few dogs and ask the staff members questions — they are in serious need of good homes and supporters.

  • Mark

    That is staggeringly incorrect information “burgs” – what factual information do you have to support that? Most shelter puppies are in fact bred on location by dogs that were brought into the shelters pregnant already. Many are vetted and come with all vaccinations and vouchers for being fixed.

  • Pip Pro

    Sometimes when people are looking for a puppy they want a specific breed for various reasons. To simply say, go to a shelter, is not always feasible. When we looked 3 years ago at the shelters for a puppy it seemed that nearly all of them were either terrier mixes or pit bull mixes. We were not interested in either breed. We wanted a small dog that was very family friendly.

    We did our homework and checked out a local breeder that was recommended to us by a friend. We found out they sell to Teske’s and had, at that time, recently sent a litter of puppies over to Teske’s. We went over to the store and purchased our puppy. We couldn’t be happier, she is the best dog we have ever had.

    As far as Illinois hating businesses I have to say that Mr. Bingham is not alone in that view. Forbes Magazine lists Illinois as the 38th worst state for businesses. Chief lists Illinois as the 48th worst state, only followed by NY and CA. Most business owners in Illinois are very concerned by the stance our state government is taking. The regulations are becoming more of a burden than a protection.

  • Marti

    Breeders do not sell to pet stores. They sell privately. I have taken an unplanned, unwanted litter to a local pet store who accepted them and sold them, rather than have me take them to the pound. Every person I know who demands a purebred animal for either show or breeding got it from a private seller, where they can view the parents on site, see the lineage etc… People looking for a regular pet that they will not use for breeding and one that they will spay or neuter go to a local pet store, or the pound. They are cheaper, and often are the sweetest dogs and cats ever.

  • Elise

    One good thing — at least everyone knows where he stands on the subject. It’s all about the money to him. As for people only wanting puppies and not shelter pets — he’s wrong about that. Many people with families realize that puppies are a ton of work — so they go looking for the older dog that is already housebroken. Anyway… I sure won’t be shopping at Teske’s any time soon.

    • Key

      I’m with you Elise, now he can’t make his money on the overpriced pets he sells. Teske’s and Pet Mart are the only two stores that sell puppies here locally. I shop at PetSmart and Petco where they feature shelter animals.

    • angie

      Perhaps Mr. Bingham actually CARES about his employees and not just himself. If Illinois cared about puppy mills the dept of acrg would have task forces out closing the MILLS down or the backdoor breeders would face such steep fines the quick buck they make from the litters would not be worth it. Oh and maybe owners should take a little accountability nobody has ever walked in with a gun to their head and made to buy a puppy from Teske’s or any other pet store you have a choice to go to a shelter. Instead Illinois puts my job and my co-workers in jeopardy. Regulations and laws are only as good as the people who write them , a good rounded person looks at every aspect…Illinois can u back it up.

  • Laura

    I have to say, I think some of you are being extremely judgmental.First, Illinois may not think it is anti business, but, the regulations and taxes they impose force businesses to leave or fold.Even Illinois residents have voted this state as the worst state to live in. More would leave the state if they could sell their homes. Teskes is a family owned business, and for those of us who shop there, family works hard and rarely takes time off. For those like George, who have managed to stay alive, it is getting more and more difficult. Like most of you, I find puppy mills to be horrible, so why aren’t the regulators going after them? If families seeking puppies cannot buy them through a family business (and by the way, the name and address of the breeder is listed on every kennel at Teske’s), you set up a great black market opportunity. I have adopted dogs from the shelters and raised puppies. Yes, Teske’s does make money on their dogs, isn’t that the point of a business? Isn’t that how we employ people? Let me educate you on that, Teske’s must buy the puppies, then they have to feed them, give them toys, keep thier shots current, and pay for any necessary vet bills. Often they break even, they aren’t gonna get rich. Also, many breeders sell pups with a limited registration, which means they cannot be bred and registered, and many want a particular breed as a pet, not just for show or breeding.

  • Brooke

    “Backyard” breeders are the breeders who will sell to pet stores. These types of breeders actually do a lot of harm in bloodlines for breeds. They breed for looks, and not health- which is why so many breeds are now plagued with such high cancer risks, and other hereditary ailments such as hip dysplasia. A registered dog means little anymore, it does not guarantee the quality of the dog by any means- even AKC- it is simply just a database of dogs. Every state should pass this law- it is NOT making it so you can no longer get a specific breed, it just requires you to do a little research to find a good breeder, which is exactly what you should be doing anyways. Oh, and I recently was at the IL teskes- they had puppies in there that could not be handled because they recently went under a flea treatment… what responsible breeders have fleas??? This country has an epidemic of dogs in need of homes- if you are going to a pet store, chances are you are just looking for a cute puppy, no matter the breed- Why not look at all the puppies on petfinder instead? The reason pet stores are so angry about this is because they pay very little for these dogs, and sell them at a huge mark up. From an inside source for Pet Land (a chicagoland pet store chain), they purchase dogs for as little as $50 each, and sell them for $1300.00. You can get a better price, and a healthier dog from a reputable breeder.

  • Bob Hansen

    The State of Illinois will have just as much luck getting rid of puppy mills as they are having with the war on drugs and had with prohibition. Oh I almost forgot gun control. What a joke.

  • S Tyler

    The amount of money spent to maintain shelters could be saved the number of animals if the nation adopted this program would be countless. Something has to happen and soon for the shelter pets this is a great start !

  • s. francis

    We bought a puppie from Teskes in Moline a few years ago and he ended up having Parvo. He passed away from it because the owners that sold them never gave them shots and the kennels that they were kept in were nasty. NEVER AGAIN people buy direct for breeders so you see the environment and conditions they are in.

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