Soon dogs and cats will no longer be commercially sold in Margate.
City commissioners unanimously voted to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs, and only allow publicly run shelters, nonprofits, and private breeders and sellers to operate. The move came after Commissioner Joanne Simone started researching the problems often associated with the mass sale of dogs and cats.
"Buying a puppy from a pet store has significant risks because of the medical, emotional, genetic and hereditary problems these dogs have," Simone said. "They have years of abuse and lack proper care at the [puppy] mills. It's not uncommon to see that cute little puppy in the window, spend $800 to well over $1,000 to buy it, take it home, to only find out you bought a sick puppy. Then spend $2,500 on vet bills, and weeks later that puppy dies."
Currently, there is only one pet store in the city that falls under the guidelines of the new law, according to Director of Economic Development Ben Ziskal, and it will be allowed to continue to sell cats and dogs under the new ordinance since it will be grandfathered in.
The measure is supported by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and by Hallendale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow, who is also a volunteer at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption.
"Margate is taking a proactive approach to a real problem because a majority of these commercially bred animals become sick and they end up surrendered to the publicly subsidized shelter, which in turn become another cost to the taxpayer," Lazarow said. "Puppies are typically impulse buys because that cute little puppy face in the window. As a result, many are dumped at these shelters when people realize the responsibility that comes with such a purchase."
Don Anthony, director of communications for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, agreed with Lazarow and applauded the city for being among the few cities in the area to support such a law.
"It's commendable that you are taking this course of action," Anthony said, "not only to protect dogs and cats, but also to protect unwitting purchasers who frequently end up spending thousands of dollars to attempt to cure many of the diseases that are rampant in the dog-breeding business."
The city commission will vote on the final hearing of the law at an upcoming meeting.