Council: Local pet store can stay open, but no new stores allowedWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
During their last meeting of the year, members of Toledo City Council passed legislation that would allow existing pet stores that sell dogs and cats to remain open, but would prohibit new stores from opening in the future.
As part of the new legislation, stores like The Family Puppy, which recently opened at the Franklin Park mall, will have to comply with a series of regulations.
Animals sold will be required to have a series of vaccinations and be microchipped. Store owners will also face a $50 fine for each animal sold that is not spayed or neutered. The store will also be required to supply customers with written proof of the name and address of the breeder, as well as a records of the animal’s health and vaccinations.
The amendment, which was proposed by Councilman Rob Ludeman and Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson, was passed by a vote of 11-1. Councilman Mike Craig was the only “no” vote.
Ludeman called the legislation, “a mixed breed amendment” and said he was pleased with the way it turned out.
“This ordinance is not perfect, and it doesn’t accomplish what both sides want. So maybe that makes it a good piece of legislation,” Ludeman said.
“I think it will promote people going to a breeder of note and record like my wife and I have done in the past,” Ludeman said. “I would definitely do my research and go online.”
Craig, who cast the only dissenting vote, called the amendment “bad legislation.”
“People assert that this will stop certain things from happening, but it’s just not going to help them in any way,” Craig said.
“It just kind of ruffled my fur,” he added.
John Stottele, who owns The Family Puppy with his wife Debbie, said he was happy his store had been grandfathered in with the new ordinance, but said he has several issues with the way the ordinance is written.
“We’re thrilled that we can stay open, and we think that we offer a service to residents of Toledo to find a good source to buy a puppy. We’re just kind of the middle man. The breeders ask us to find families that want to buy their puppies, our breeders are screened by us and it’s a good way for a family to say they’ve gone and seen the breeders so they don’t have to,” Stottele said.
The Family Puppy, chain of pet stores based in southeast Michigan, obtains its puppies from about 20 Amish breeders in northern Indiana. Stottele said his stores already comply with a number of conditions required by the new ordinance, including microchipping, vaccinations and providing customers with information about the pet’s health and background.
Stottele did take issue with three facets of the new ordinance, all related to vaccinations puppies sold in the city are required to have.
“One thing that is a problem is that the vaccinations that they are requiring are outdated,” Stottele said. “No veterinarian I know of will give 8-week-old puppy leptospirosis until they are 12 weeks of age. It’s not safe to have them vaccinated that young.”
Stottele said most veterinarians give puppies a rabies vaccine between 17 and 18 weeks of age, and that to give puppies that vaccination by the 8-week requirement imposed by the new ordinance would have an adverse effect on the other vaccines given to the dogs at that time.
Stottele also said he had hoped the parvovirus vaccine, which he said is given to his dogs, should have been added to the list of required vaccinations.
Stottele said he is looking forward to his store being in the city for many years to come.
“I hope we’ll prove to City Council that the ordinance that they’ve passed didn’t need to be there at all because pet stores aren’t the problem. Breeders are the problem,” Stottele said. “We do have sign that says, ‘Have you visited animal shelter first?’, and we have 40 percent of kennel space devoted to rescue. We would like to partner with a local rescue to let them use space in our store to have a meet and greet adoption day. They do that at other pet stores. Why not ours?”
Many local animal welfare advocates said they are happy with some of what was included in the new ordinance, but also left feeling as if the legislation did not go far enough.
John Dinon, the Ohio director of outreach and engagement for the Humane Society of the United States, said he has mixed feelings about the ordinance.
“I think that this ordinance is pretty much like any piece of animal welfare legislation in Ohio or Toledo. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but it’s an improvement,” Dinon said. “I would have liked for it to not allow people to sell dogs and cats in Toledo that didn’t come from a shelter, and I would also have liked for them not to sell animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered.”
Dinon said that while he understands how it would have been perceived to be unfair to force The Family Puppy to close, he is also concerned about the store being the only pet store in the city to sell dogs and cats.
“It’s also unfair to give them a monopoly,” Dinon said. “Responsible breeders do not sell their animals through pet stores. So if a pet store says they only get USDA inspections, there is no assurance that animals are treated humanely.”
Dinon said pet stores tend to get the animals they sell from puppy mills.
“The difference is rehoming homeless pets or supporting the puppy mill industry,” Dinon said. “Puppy mills don’t give breeding dogs a great quality of life. They tend to have health and social problems. We already have an overpopulation problem, and selling animals, particularly ones that are not spayed and neutered, doesn’t make sense.”
Susan Robinson, who attended the City Council meeting and is part of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, said she was upset that the ordinance was not as restrictive as it could have been, but was happy to see that the legislation did pass.
“We made it impossible that any other store like this can open in Toledo, and we also increased public awareness of the problems with puppy mills,” Robinson said.
She said the organization, which has been holding protests against stores like The Family Puppy for the last few months on Saturdays at Franklin Park, is planning to keep a close watch on the store, with the hope of seeing it closed.
“Toledo has set a precedent for other cities with the passage of this ordinance. And it creates less of a demand for the puppies from puppy mills,” Robinson said.
The ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Any store that open after Jan. 1 will be prohibited from selling puppies and kittens unless the animals are obtained from a legitimate animal shelter, animal control agency, humane society, nonprofit rescue organization and the animals are spayed or neutered.