The Pinellas County Fee voted Tuesday to ban any new shops that promote canines and cats, following surrounding native governments that just lately moved to deal with animal welfare.
However the fee didn’t grant welfare advocates’ pleas to additionally shutter the six shops at the moment promoting puppies within the county. As an alternative the ordinance will impose heightened laws on them, like requiring the posting of medical historical past and data on the place every pet got here from.
The ordinance comes six months after the fee enacted a moratorium on new shops so Pinellas County Animal Companies may analysis the trade. On Tuesday, Director Doug Brightwell mentioned it’s clear the USA Division of Agriculture is failing to observe and regulate the well-being of animals which might be bred in operations out of state and transported to shops in Florida.
“It’s an industry that is very complex that needs answers at different levels of government,” Commissioner Dave Eggers mentioned. “We can only do so much and I think it’s about being responsive to concerns from our residents, but at the same time being responsive to business owners that are doing things the right way.”
The ordinance handed 6-1 with Commissioner Pat Gerard voting no. Gerard mentioned she disagreed with grandfathering within the six current shops and the availability permitting them to relocate and promote their companies so long as they don’t broaden.
The ordinance will apply solely to shops and excludes pastime breeders, that are at-home breeders that promote lower than two litters or 20 animals per yr, whichever is bigger.
Hillsborough County voted in 2020 to ban pet retail gross sales, making use of the rule to the three shops current on the time. Manatee County did the identical, making use of the ban to 3 shops. When Pasco County banned pet retail gross sales in 2020, it grandfathered in a single current store.
However Pinellas commissioners have been reluctant to shut current shops within the county since on-line gross sales usually are not regulated. Commissioner Kathleen Peters famous stories that some rescues throughout the U.S. have additionally purchased from pet mills to resell and wished to know if that was occurring in Pinellas.
Brightwell mentioned he confirmed that, of the three,400 puppies bought within the six Pinellas retailers since January 2021, all got here from out-of-state breeders or brokers. He couldn’t verify whether or not they got here from pet mills as a result of he declined to nail down the definition of what’s anecdotally described as abusive warehouses that mass produce canines.
However Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay, famous that the abuse at large-scale breeding operations is effectively documented and that retail shops assist prop up that trade.
“In fact these businesses are helping to create the demand for mass produced puppies by misrepresenting what has happened to those animals, their parents and their siblings before they even arrived at the store,” Boden mentioned.
The difficulty generated an emotional and heated debate on Tuesday with greater than two hours of feedback from opponents and advocates of the ban, who traded accusations concerning the breeding and rescue industries.
Representatives from Sunshine Puppies and All About Puppies warned that banning retail shops would strengthen black market gross sales. In addition they mentioned they’ve visited the websites of all their suppliers to make sure welfare requirements.
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“If shutting down every pet shop would shut down every puppy mill, then I’d be for shutting down every single pet shop, but that’s not what’s happening,” mentioned Dan Cohn, proprietor of Sunshine Puppies with areas in Clearwater and Largo.