Chesney Guest Column: Puppy Mill Purveyors Furious for Focus on Rescue Pets

Purveyors of puppy mill pets have come unhinged. They are in full “freak-out” mode, furious about Illinois’ new policy focus favoring rescue pets. Many in our region may have seen their ridiculous propaganda filling their mailboxes as they launched a Chicago-machine-style smear campaign against me for the simple act of putting puppy mills out of business.

That’s right! I’ll admit it. I sponsored, built a coalition around, and ultimately passed legislation to help put puppy mills out of business in Illinois. I want to dry up the market FULLY for these puppy mills’ deceitful practices and the inhumane way mall commercial breeders foist sick animals on the unknowing public for profit. Considering I, and most of the public, view them as inhumane criminals, simply putting puppy mills out of business is a mild-mannered public policy response to their deceptive practices and unfathomable treatment of companion animals.

Due to my legislation, House Bill 1711, Illinois’ 21 puppy-selling pet stores have 180 days from August 27 (the date the bill was signed) to stop selling commercially raised puppies and kittens from puppy mills. This effectively makes illegal a profitable market for puppy mills and will drive the Illinois pet market towards more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders.

The clock is ticking on their deceptive, evil treatment of puppies and kittens. Illinois now joins only a few other states leading the nation in prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. Bold action is required to put the puppy mill industry out of business. It’s past time for pet stores to cut ties with puppy mills and, rather than add to the pet overpopulation crisis that is currently gripping the nation. Pet stores should join with shelters and rescues to increase adoptions of animals who would otherwise be left homeless.

Beyond HB 1711, I was also pleased to help Illinois become the first in the nation to prohibit the financing of dog and cat purchases as Chief Co-Sponsor of House Bill 572. Because puppy mill puppies are often sold for thousands of dollars as impulse buys by those who may not be able to afford them, some pet stores offer financing to help close the sale. Some pet stores promise low-interest financing through third-party lenders that end up charging unbelievably high-interest rates and hidden fees. Interest rates as high as 180+% have been noted. Customers have reported they were made to make payments for years after their pets died. HB 572 passed unanimously in both chambers, showing zero tolerance for these predatory practices.

It’s been said, “a lie left unchallenged becomes the truth.” When these puppy mill purveyors fill your mailboxes with lies about my voting record, know these are the bills to which they are referring. I am proud of my positions in support of Northwest Illinois families and against Puppy Mills.

Why aren’t pet stores proudly helping us push puppy mills out of business? Profit. Plain and simple. Pathetic.

State Representative Andrew Chesney advocates on behalf of the 89th District in Illinois. As a legislator, his policy priorities include cutting taxes, creating jobs, and government accountability and transparency. Chesney’s legislative championship of legislation protecting companion animals earned him the 2020 Humane Legislator Award by the Humane Society of the United States. Learn more at