Not everyone is convinced of the efficacy of Coral Springs’ legislation aimed at preventing pet stores from selling dogs and cats that were bred in so-called mills.
The ordinance, which passed 5-0 on first reading at a City Commission meeting last week, allows pet stores to sell cats and dogs obtained from hobby breeders. Don Anthony, communications director of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, believes this negates the spirit of the ordinance.
“Coral Springs does not have any pet shops that are selling dogs and cats; such a loophole is not needed,” Anthony said. “You have no stores that can sue you. Creating a loophole for a nonexistent source is unnecessary.”
Many other cities in the region have passed ordinances that prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats obtained from commercial breeding facilities, but Coral Springs chose to wait until the court decided on the constitutional validity of a law passed by a neighboring city. Last month, the city had imposed a moratorium on new stores that sell dogs and cats.
“After waiting all these months, it is really a disappointment,” said Anthony. “The ordinance is an invitation for stores to come into the city and begin selling commercially bred dogs and cats that allegedly come from hobby breeders. “
The city’s ordinance was drafted based on the commission’s directive to prevent stores from selling dogs and cats bred at puppy and kitten mills, said City Attorney John Hearn. “There are many people that get dogs from hobby breeders,” he said. “We saw several ordinances that were sent to us. Our litigation counsel believes that many of them will not pass constitutional muster. What we do know is that this ordinance will pass constitutional muster.”
Commissioner Joy Carter said, “When I started on this, my whole idea was to protect our residents from consumer fraud by eliminating puppy mills. I never considered the hobby breeder as a puppy mill…To just completely stop the sale of animals sounds a little extreme, but I do want to protect our people.”
Vice Mayor Larry Vignola agreed, “My concern has always been puppy mills, not breeders that live here in the community and the dog that gets pregnant. What if the owner of that dog cannot sell those dogs? The option of a pet store being able to sell these dogs, I am OK with.
“The ordinance eliminates puppy mills, and that was the goal. I don’t think we have residents that are going out there and intentionally breeding dogs like crazy. I don’t see that happening here.”
Mayor Skip Campbell and Commissioner Dan Daley also defended the ordinance. “I feel comfortable with this,” Campbell said. “I don’t think it is what everybody wants, but it does deal with the problem of puppy mills. If it doesn’t work, we can always come back and amend the ordinance.”
According to the ordinance, pet stores will be able to sell dogs and cats obtained from hobby breeders, animal shelters and animal-rescue organizations. A limit of one litter per calendar year applies to hobby breeders.
The city had initially proposed a fine of $250 for a person or business violating the ordinance, but the City Commission approved Carter’s suggestion to raise the fine to the maximum of $500. The law will be passed on second reading during a meeting in September.
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