Martin County Commission to review pet store ban

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MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — In a few months, it will be illegal to sell dogs, cats or rabbits in Martin County, but the county commission may consider changing the rules.

The owners of the two Martin County pet stores that sell animals believe this is their last chance to save their business.

When the vote to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in Martin County passed in June. Jill Scott said she knew nothing about the hearing.

“The best way to describe it is that we feel the air sucked out of our lungs,” Scott, owner of the Noble Paw told Stuart.

The county said it advertised the meeting in the newspaper and on its website — two places Scott said she doesn’t check regularly.

The ban would force Scott to change his business model without having a say.

“We want to speak for ourselves, we want to defend our reputation and who we are as people,” she said.

Under the ban, pet stores would be allowed to continue selling retail products, but not animals.

Scott said it could affect his ability to pay his 5-year lease.

“If this goes away, I’m broke,” she said.

On Tuesday, the county will take up the matter at the request of Commissioner Stacy Hetherington.

The commissioners will be able to make three decisions: keep the ban as it is due to come into force in December, extend the period in which companies must stop selling animals until next June or completely revise the ban, which could cancel it or allow existing businesses to be acquired into.

Scott supports strict regulations around its industry.

“We would like to ask them to take this prescription and throw it away and include us in redesigning the one that we think could really make a difference,” she said.

However, animal rights and rescue groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, are urging the county not to change anything about the ban.

And other Martin County residents are emailing county leaders to enforce it.

Scott said that despite what people think of her business, she said any small business should have a say in a decision that affects them.

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