Pasco County has amended a county ordinance to halt the sale of dogs, cats, kittens and puppies from retail pet stores.
Commissioners adopted the change unanimously — after a public hearing on Sept. 8, which included opposition to the ban; opposition that the language in the ordinance didn’t go far enough; and, support for the change.
When Mike Shumate, the county’s director of animal services brought the proposal to the board in August, he urged commissioners to amend the county’s ordinance — to restrict the sale of kittens, puppies, dogs and cats from pet stores — “especially those intentionally selling from large, commercial breeders, out-of-state breeders, puppy mills, primarily.”
During that meeting, Shumate told commissioners that a significant number of puppies and kittens sold at retail pet stores come from out-of-state large-scale breeding facilities.
Shumate said: “There’s documented abuses — endemic of the puppy and kitten mills — including overbreeding, inbreeding, minimal to nonexistent veterinary care, lack of nutritious food, water and shelter, lack of socialization, adequate space and exercise.
“The inhuman conditions of puppy mills and kitten mills often lead to health and behavioral issues,” he added.
This can become a problem for pet owners, who unwittingly purchase an animal that later exhibits health or behavior problems, the animal services director said.
At the Sept. 8 hearing on the amendment, Shumate told commissioners he was aware objections had been made that the proposed amendment had “loopholes.”
But, Shumate said: “Given the definitions that we have for animal rescue operations, we think that will sufficiently to prevent the loopholes.”
When introducing the need for the amendment, in August, Shumate said that the change will result in decreased demand for pets bred in puppy and kitten mills.
It also will result in increased demand for pets from animal shelters and rescue operations, he said.
Shumate also said the new regulation will not prevent consumers from being able to find pets because there are plenty of animals available, both locally and throughout the state.
There is one existing pet store in the county, and it will be grandfathered in because the county is not concerned about being able to respond to any issues, should they arise, Shumate said.
Published September 16, 2020