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Why Retail Pet Bans Don’t Work

Some animal rights organizations claim that banning the sale of puppies at pet stores will combat puppy mills. The opposite is true.

Completely banning sales of dogs from breeders creates a black market, just as Prohibition created a black market for alcohol. If people can’t get a dog from a local store, they go online looking for a certain breed of dog and are at risk of getting scammed. One alleged online puppy scam was recently busted in Lake County, Illinois

Banning the sale of dogs creates an incentive for dogs to be trafficked from other states or countries. The CDC has noted an increase in dog imports. Hundreds of dogs may be flown in at a time, under the guise of “rescue.” In reality, these dogs may simply come from a foreign puppy mill. 

Regulations such as lemon laws and sourcing transparency can ensure that dogs only come from high-quality breeders and that consumers and animals are protected. 


More than 20,000 dogs are imported into Illinois every year by shelters and rescues, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. There can be several potential animal welfare issues with importing dogs including:

Here are recent import figures from three major Illinois shelters:

NameDog ImportsSurrendersStraysIn-State TransferImport RateRevenueSourcing
PAWS Chicago1,0134941471545%$25.8 MillionMissouri, Arkansas
Wright Way3,120854033372%$3.1 MillionMissouri, Arkansas, Mississippi
Anderson Humane1,8193213085%$4.6 MillionOklahoma
Major Illinois Shelter Statistics

Combined, these three groups bring in over $25 million a year. Trafficking animals is a big business.

Information on this page was obtained from public records.

All animals should be properly cared for. Please take action to learn how you can help strengthen protections for pets in Illinois!