Council bans shop sales of dogs, cats
BY JASON SCHULTZ PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER
Wellington Village Council members tried to do their part to tame the national problem of “puppy mills” Tuesday night by banning the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores in the village.
“This is just a good thing for us to do. It states how much we care about animals,” said Councilwoman Anne Gerwig as the council unanimously approved the ban. Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said there are no pet stores currently open in the village, but it would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats from any future stores. The ban must be approved a second time at a future meeting before it becomes official.
More than a dozen people showed up to support the ordinance, which was first suggested last summer by resident Lorrie Browne. She told the village how she adopted a sick dog who had been bred continuously at a “puppy mill” or large-scale commercial breeder, for six years.
Others, like Don Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, talked about how some pet stores sell animals that come from large-scale commercial breeders who he said put profits above animal care and starve and breed dogs until they are “spent and killed.”
Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Michele Lazarow told the council how she championed a similar sales ban in her city after buying a puppy from a pet store in 2004 that later proved to have congenital defects from being bred at a puppy mill. Communities all over the nation have already banned dog and cat sales from commercial pet stores to try to cut off the source of profits that drive large-scale breeders.
“This law also protects the unsuspecting purchasers like I was,” Lazarow said.
Loxahatchee resident Sharon Carmichael, an investigator with the Humane Society of Broward County, talked about following trucks full of animals from puppy mills that she claimed come in from out of state and drive around to pet stores selling them animals in bulk. The ordinance does allow pet stores to sell or adopt out animals from recognized animal rescue leagues and shelters.
“So many shelter animals are going to be helped by this,” Carmichael said.
Council members said they want to pull the leash even tighter in the future to stop the sale of any sick animals from puppy mills in the village. Vice Mayor Howard Coates worried that one exemption, which allows people to sell animals that are raised on their own property, would “create a hole you could drive a truck through” and could encourage puppy mill operators to set up shop in Wellington and sell from their own properties to skirt the law.
Cohen said she would look at other city and county ordinances that seek to define puppy mills and animal breeding to see if she can add any language to tighten loopholes.
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