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Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 21, 2017

Park Pet Shop, Inc., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
City of Chicago, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued May 24, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 C 1450 Jorge L. Alonso, Judge.

          Before Rovner, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          SYKES, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         This case challenges Chicago's "puppy mill" ordinance, which limits the sources from which pet stores may obtain dogs, cats, and rabbits for resale. The ordinance provides that pet retailers in the city "may offer for sale only those dogs, cats, or rabbits" obtained from an animal control or care center, pound, or kennel operated by local, state, or federal government or "a humane society or rescue organization." Chicago, Ill., Code § 4-384-015(b) (2016).

         Two Chicago pet stores and a Missouri dog breeder sued to invalidate the ordinance. They allege that it exceeds Chicago's home-rule powers under the Illinois Constitution and violates the implied limits on state power imposed by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim.

         We affirm. The Illinois Constitution permits home-rule units like Chicago to regulate animal control and welfare concurrently with the state. And the puppy-mill ordinance doesn't discriminate against interstate commerce, even in mild practical effect, so it requires no special cost-benefit justification under the Commerce Clause. Rational-basis review is the default standard, and the ordinance easily passes that test.

         I. Background

         In 2014 the Chicago City Council acted to address concerns that pet stores in the city sourced their animals from large mill-style breeders, which are notorious for deplorable conditions and abusive breeding practices, including over-breeding, inbreeding, crowded and filthy living conditions, lack of appropriate socialization, and inadequate food, water, and veterinary care. The Council determined that mill-bred pets develop health and behavioral problems, creating economic and emotional burdens for pet owners and imposing financial costs on the City as owners abandon their physically or emotionally challenged pets or surrender them to the shelter operated by the City's Commission on Animal Care and Control. Nearly a third of all animals that come into the City's care are owner surrenders-the second largest source of dogs and cats taken in by the Commission (strays are the largest). Chicago budgets about $300, 000 each year for its shelter service and spends more than $500, 000 every year to euthanize animals.

         The Council determined that extinguishing the supply of puppy-mill pets to local pet stores would serve several important policy goals. Among other things, it would (1) limit financial support to mill operators; (2) reduce the financial and emotional toll on Chicago consumers who purchase mill-bred pets with latent physical and behavioral problems; (3) boost placement of shelter pets; and (4) reduce the City's animal-care and euthanization costs. The Council also determined that banning the retail sale of mill-bred pets may also promote pet adoption from the City's shelter, which would benefit Chicago residents because the $65 pet adoption fee both offsets the cost to taxpayers of operating the shelter and gives Chicagoans ready access to cheaper pets.

         The Council accordingly adopted the following ordinance restricting the sources from which pet stores in the city may obtain dogs, cats, or rabbits for resale:

(b) Restrictions on the retail sale of animals. A retailer may offer for sale only those dogs, cats, or rabbits that the retailer has obtained from:
(1) an animal control center, animal care facility, kennel, pound or training facility operated by any subdivision of local, state or federal government; or
(2) a humane society or rescue organization.

Chicago, Ill., Code § 4-384-015(b) (2016).

         Two Chicago pet stores-Park Pet Shop and Pocket Pets-joined forces with Cedar Woods Farm, a Missouri dog breeder, seeking to invalidate the ordinance. They allege that it exceeds Chicago's home-rule powers under the Illinois Constitution and amounts to an unconstitutional regulation of interstate commerce in violation of the dormant aspect of the Commerce Clause. Amended complaints followed-the operative version is the second amended complaint-and the City moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Fed. R. Crv. P. 12(b)(6). The district judge granted the motion, holding that the ordinance is a valid exercise of the City's home-rule authority under the Illinois Constitution and is not an unconstitutional regulation of interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause. The judge entered final judgment for the City, and the plaintiffs appealed.

         II. Discussion

         We review a dismissal order without deference to the district court's decision, accepting as true the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and drawing reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor. Roberts v. City of Chicago,817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court ...


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