LARGO – After nearly two years of ongoing discussions, city commissioners are set to pass an ordinance that would further regulate the commercial sale of dogs and cats within city limits and ban the creation of new pet stores.
Commissioners voted 4-2 on August 3 to give preliminary approval to a new set of rules that the town of Ulmerton Road’s two pet stores – All About Puppies and Sunshine Puppies – will have to adhere to.
Stores that sell dogs from so-called “puppy mills” are involved and their mothers. Puppy mill dogs are often sick and unsocialized.
The owners of the Largo pet store are adamant that they do not buy or sell animals from puppy mills. There are three other stores along Ulmerton Road, the largest of which is Petland across from the Largo Mall, but they are not within the city limits and fall under the jurisdiction of Pinellas County.
The USDA is the primary regulatory authority for ranchers who transport animals across state borders. The state of Florida has a pet “lemon law” and breeders must meet minimum requirements. Pinellas County also has definitions and regulations on kennels, hobbyist breeders and pet dealers. Local ordinances cannot conflict with county, state, or federal ordinances, so the city’s options were limited.
New city rules require stores to provide detailed information about the source of the dogs they sell, including the name and license numbers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture breeding facility. where the animal was raised, and the city where the animal came from. .
Information should be posted on or near each animal’s pen.
The order also follows federal law that pet store owners should only purchase dogs from approved and licensed USDA breeders, who have not suffered any direct or indirect USDA violations over the years. last two years and have a valid active state license. upright.
The rules also require stores to have a valid animal health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in Florida.
Finally, the ordinance includes an option to retain acquired rights to existing pet stores and to prohibit the creation of future stores.
Alexandria Julien of All About Puppies applauded the city for its efforts instead of instituting an outright ban, which had already been called for by several representatives of the Humane Society and implemented by municipalities like Dunedin and Hillsborough County .
“For the real meat of the prescription, we are 100% sure that we can meet the regulations that are described,” she said.
However, she objected to part of the grandfathering section, which could be interpreted in such a way that the store cannot be sold to another pet store.
“As it reads, we understand that our store would now be worth zero dollars as the option to sell our business in the future would result in our business being banned,” she said, adding that the order would also be problematic as it could prevent them from moving to a new location.
Deputy Mayor Jamie Robinson and Commissioner Eric Gerard were sensitive to Julien’s concerns and supported amending the ordinance to make it clear that they could sell their business to another pet store.
“I would hate to see us pass an ordinance that destroys the future value of this ongoing business,” said Gerard.
The Commissioners voted 4-2 to amend the ordinance, with objection from Michael Smith and Samantha Fenger. Mayor Woody Brown was absent.
Smith has always opposed the commercial sale of dogs and cats, but Fenger said the change went against the intent of the commission and defeated the purpose of protecting rights. acquired.
“I think our intention from the very beginning was gone,” Fenger said.
Despite his objections, the commissioners voted 4-2 in the same direction to adopt the ordinance at first reading.
A second and final public hearing will take place on September 7. In the meantime, city attorney Alan Zimmet will clarify the language so that it allows for the sale of the business to a person or entity that wishes to continue operating it as a pet store. .
In other news
Commissioners were divided over the final reading of an ordinance that would bar teens from designated playgrounds.
The new regulation states that no one over the age of 12 is allowed in designated children’s play areas, unless they are a parent, guardian or temporary caretaker looking after a child. .
City staff and police officials said the measure would provide some needed “enforcement teeth” for police officers who currently cannot force unruly teenagers to leave – mostly at the playgrounds of Largo Central Park and from the Highland Recreation Complex.
The ordinance was narrowly passed on first reading by a 4-3 vote, with Commissioners Eric Gerard and Jamie Robinson strongly opposed, saying it was “excessive” and unfairly targets teenagers.
With Mayor Woody Brown absent from the August 3 meeting, the committee ended up with a 3-3 vote. Gerard also proposed that the commission suspend adoption of the new rules and allow city staff to come up with ideas for alternative recreation options for the park’s teens. A vote on this motion also failed 3-3, meaning the final reading of the ordinance will be presented at the next regular committee meeting on August 17.
Photo by CHRIS GEORGE
City commissioners have one more vote before passing an ordinance that would tighten regulations for the town’s two pet shops, Sunshine Puppies and All About Puppies, both located on Ulmerton Road.