BLOOMINGTON — On Jan. 1, an ordinance will go into effect in Bloomington that will ban the retail sale of dogs and cats. The ban is something that will directly impact Delilah’s Pet Shop, which has been open for over 40 years.
"You can't damn a whole group of people because a few are bad, " Leslie Henderson-Miller, the owner of Delilah's Pet Shop,said.
Henderson-Miller loves animals. She inherited Delilah’s Pet Shop from her parents. She says she takes pride in the ones she sells and only works with local reputable breeders. Each animal that is sold comes with a contract that lays out specific guidelines.
The shop also works with new pet owners by educating them how what taking care of a dog will take based on its breed. The dogs she sells are all purebred.
"It states that at any time during that baby’s life, if you can't keep it because of something that has happened in your life, you can bring it back or if it's a bigger kid we will help you find a home for it," Henderson-Miller said.
No one from the Bloomington City Council was able to comment on camera about the ordinance. It says the policy is in the best interest of the city because it will decrease the number of animals being sold in the city from puppy and kitten mills. But the American Kennel Club disagrees, saying these bans push people to look for a pet online.
"[Online] is where there are a lot of scams, that is where we are seeing a lot of sick puppies sold and it's this huge unregulated market that is unfortunately giving money to the very people that we want to stop," Jennifer Clark, the AKC Director of Legislative Outreach, said.
The AKC has been around for over 135 years, and they believe in rescuing dogs and adoption. It says they are the largest pure breed rescue organization in the United States. It feels there is a better solution to stopping puppy mills. They say Education and passing a consumer protections law is what will stop puppy mills from existing.
"It provides recourse for them and what’s happened to them but it also punishes and holds accountable those sellers and stops them from selling those animals in the future, " Henderson-Miller said.
But according to the Humane Society of the United States, these bans are working. In a statement, they claim their research shows these bans are shrinking the number of puppy mills.
Ten years ago, the average licensed breeding facility had 87 dogs, and now the average facility has 57. They broke down where laws have been passed that are like the ordinance in Bloomington in a in a blog post.
The ASPCA is also in favor of these types of laws being passed. In an email to WRTV, they say these measures help municipalities and states shut off the puppy mill pipeline into their communities.
That email went on to claim that majority of the puppies sold at pet stores do come from puppy mills. They say most pet store puppies come from commercial breeding facilities that breed and sell puppies to the pet trade, either to dog brokers or pet stores, not directly to consumers. Read more about puppy mills by clickinghere.
Delilah's Pet Shop says that is not that case for them since they only work with local breeders and most of the time, the breeders only have one litter.
The pet store also offers grooming and pet products. The sale of pets is about 20-30% of the business’s income. The owner isn't sure how this ban will affect her business, but she is staying positive and hopeful that her businesses will stay open.
"The stigma behind pet shops, I get that. There is bad, there is bad at everything, but there is also good," Henderson-Miller said. “We have their best interest. We want the best for them.”
The fine in Bloomington for selling pets in a retail establishment will be $500.
Currently, Delilah’s Pet Shop has about 10 puppies for sale. If they aren’t sold by the time the ordinance goes into effect, she says some of them will go back the breeders. The ones she has bought will stay at the store, and if she must pay a fine to keep them, she will. Henderson-Miller says she doesn’t want them to go to a shelter.
To read the full ordinance, click here.