Here is an interesting and innovate solution for you. Just last month, it was announced that the city of Chicago is banning the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from breeders within the city limits. In other words, pet stores will now be selling rescue animals from shelters and welfare societies, both private and public. A lot of the rhetoric around this ordinance relates to the abusive conditions in some breeding operations (think “puppy mills”). While I would warn everybody from assuming that all breeders are running inadequate operations in which the animals’ needs and rights are neglected, there certainly has been a share of cases to cause concern. What hasn’t been mentioned so far, and why I support this law, is that this could be seen as a way to manage the overpopulation of stray animals so prominent in many cities (especially my hometown, Detroit, MI). For example, I have heard estimates that there are 2,000 to 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit. While 50,000 seems a bit high to me, I can’t say I haven’t driven around at night, alongside a pack of 3 or 4 dogs in a desolate part of the city. By keeping shelter pets in the pet stores, and not breeding new ones, perhaps we can curb some of this problem. Some dogs are feral and at this point may not be appropriate to become house pets right away. However, many need a loving home and shelters often provide cheap or complimentary spaying or nudering, which alleviates the stray and feral problem.
It appears that this idea was so well received that the rest of Cook County, where most of Chicago resides, decided to follow suit. I believe that this law has potential to improve both the human and animal urban environment. In a sense, the control of stray and feral household pets has become the city’s version of wildlife management. For example, we have deer out here in central Pennsylvania. Detroit and Chicago have dogs and cats. While the current proposed regulations only deal with dogs, cats, and rabbits, I think this could definitely be extended to parrots. As a parrot caretaker, I am well aware of the the abundance of those, particularly the larger ones, who need to be rescued and re-homed. This happens while breeders keep pumping out more than what people can purchase.
Again, I am not trying to condemn all breeders. However, the amount of companion animals that need our help is astonishing and shutting down some of the countries worst operations, as well as the illegal pet trade, can’t hurt. I applaud Chicago and would like to see this pick up some momentum.
For another interesting and recent example of using legislation to protect animals, check out New York City’s animal abuse registry. Interesting stuff!
Image: Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits