Brevard approves restrictions on sales of dogs and cats in pet stores to fight puppy mills


County commissioners have approved an order to restrict the sale of dogs and cats in local pet stores.

The measure approved Tuesday night was so changed from the version of the order that Vice President Bryan Lober proposed in January that some members of the public who supported his original plan opposed the one approved Tuesday.

Under the ordinance approved by commissioners by a 3-2 vote, pet stores in Brevard County can sell dogs and cats from:

  • Animal shelters or animal rescue organizations.
  • “Hobby breeders” whose holdings produce 48 or fewer offspring per year.
  • Largest commercial breeders licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture that have not had certain documented violations by any governmental agency or entity within the preceding four years.

Continued:Commissioner seeks to restrict sale of dogs and cats in Brevard County pet stores

These last two provisions were added to the order during the legislative process at the request of Commissioner Rita Pritchett, who was concerned about the impact of Lober’s original proposal on breeders and pet stores.

Some speakers at Tuesday’s meeting said the two new provisions watered down the ordinance so much that it would be ineffective in furthering Lober’s goal – combating the inhumane farming practices of so-called “fat factories”. puppies” and “kitten mills” in other states.

Continued:The new proposal on sales of dogs and cats in pet stores is less restrictive than the previous one

The county’s ordinance won’t go into effect for another year against existing pet stores.

Officials say only one major pet store in Brevard currently sells dogs and cats – Puppies Plus in Melbourne. The owner of this store, Bill Jacobson, told the commissioners that the order would put him out of business after 22 years and cost his six employees their jobs.

The details of the types of violations that would prevent a breeder from supplying dogs and cats to a local pet store have yet to be defined in the ordinance.

That remained an issue with Pritchett, and at one point during Tuesday’s meeting questioned his favorable vote on the order.

Continued:A widely debated pet store ordinance could face the county commission’s final vote on Tuesday

Lober said he will work with Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and people in the community interested in the matter to figure out the details of this provision. Lober will then bring the proposed wording back to the county commission in six months for a vote.

Lober said he would have liked to require any violation of USDA rules over the past four years to prohibit a large breeder from selling dogs or cats to a Brevard pet store – as was the case in a version prior to his order.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey answers questions from county commissioners about his views on the pet stores ordinance.

“Now, that said, there’s no appetite for it here on the commission,” Lober said, referring to Pritchett’s indication that she wouldn’t vote for the stricter rule. “So based on that lack of appetite, we had to limit that to some degree. So that’s basically why I’m where I’m at right now.”

Lober, Pritchett and County Commission Chairwoman Kristine Isnardi voted in favor of the ordinance on Tuesday.

Commissioners Curt Smith and John Tobia voted against. They felt the ordinance would negatively affect local businesses, while doing little to combat puppy mills.

Continued:Animal sanctuary in Cocoa for neglected and forgotten animals: money needed for phase 3

Brevard County has no direct control over puppy mills and kitten mills, as they are not located here. Lober said restrictions on local pet stores are the best thing the county can do, because the ordinance restricts the sale of puppy mill dogs locally, for example. According to Lober, the fewer locations available for selling puppy mill dogs, the harder it would be for puppy mills to profit from them.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Lober said, and makes things “better than we were when we started” without a prescription.

Lober admitted the order was not all he had hoped for.

But Lober, a lawyer and mediator, added that the most successful mediation is when neither party is happy with the outcome, but the agreement is fair.

“It’s the best we can do right now,” Pritchett said. “The goal was never to close a pet store.”

Pritchett said she initially didn’t want to pass a pet store ordinance “because I’m trying to protect businesses.”

But she said Lober and Ivey’s arguments convinced her that something had to be done to protect the animals.

Isnardi said that while she is wary of over-regulating businesses, she thinks the pet shops ordinance approved by the commissioners is “a happy medium”, considering that pet shops have affected “profits from the sale of living beings”.

“I think we’ve found a middle ground,” Isnardi said.

Smith, however, said that while he didn’t want to “throw a spanner in this little love party you’re having here,” he didn’t think the order would have any effect on the fight against the practices. negatives of puppy mills and will not protect animals.

“I’m a free market guy,” who doesn’t want to hurt local businesses unnecessarily, Smith added.

There were 15 speakers who addressed the County Commission Tuesday on the Pet Stores Ordinance.

Among the supporters was Theresa Clifton of Canaveral Groves, executive director of the Brevard Humane Society, who said “we have to start somewhere” in regulating pet stores and “you have to compromise. No one is going to be happy with everything.” .

The latest version of the ordinance also won over members of the “My Puppy, My Choice” organization who drove from the Tampa area to Viera for the County Commission discussions on the pet store issue. The group, which has ties to pet stores in the Tampa area, had opposed Lober’s original proposal.

But Satellite Beach’s Daniel Willemin told commissioners that while he could support the order as written, he was concerned about how the order has evolved over time.

“It’s like losing its teeth,” Willemin said.

Viera’s John La Salle was among the speakers who did not support the ordinance.

“It’s not a solution to the problem” of out-of-state puppy mills, while potentially shutting down a longtime local business – Puppies Plus.

Out-of-state puppy mills and local pet stores are “two different animals,” La Salle said.

Pet store owner Jacobson told county commissioners they should give pet buyers the ‘freedom of choice’ as to where they can buy a dog, rather than targeting his business.

“It’s time for this to stop,” Jacobson said.

As they had in a previous County Commission discussion of the matter, Pritchett and Lober were drafting the wording of the ordinance while on the dais at Tuesday’s meeting. evening.

At one point, Pritchett suggested that local pet stores be allowed to obtain their dogs and cats from all USDA-licensed breeders who hadn’t lost their license.

But Lober said he wouldn’t go for it.

“If we were to do that, I think it would basically neutralize — pardon the pun here — the effect of the order totally,” Lober said. “If that’s where you are, then the order is going to fail. It’s simple. Because that’s not the one I’m going to move on.”

Ivey suggested that one option, as a compromise, would be to ban breeders who have violations that “endanger the health or welfare of the animals.”

As the nearly two-hour pet store ordinance discussion wrapped up on Tuesday, Lober joked that “it’s been a fun process.”

Dave Berman is the government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649

or [email protected]

Twitter: @bydaveberman

Facebook: /dave.berman.54

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