May 24, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 C 1450 Jorge
L. Alonso, Judge.
Rovner, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
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 §
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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 ...