YOUR OPINION: Proposed Puppy Mill Ordinance Must Retain Bite
By Tiffany Johnson // March 24, 2019
YOUR OPINON • YOUR VIEWS
On March 12, 2019, Brevard County Commission Vice Chair Bryan Lober introduced a proposed Ordinance changing county Code to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs obtained from puppy mills.
During the meeting, Lober demonstrated that the one and only existing pet store in the County to which the Ordinance would apply lied about how they source their dogs.
Lober produced reports showing that the store’s current source had over 340 puppies at one time and that both the source and the store, itself, have been and may continue to be in violation of the Animal Welfare Act per USDA inspections.
After hours of public comment, Brevard County Commission Chair Kristine Isnardi, Vice Chair Bryan Lober and Commissioner Rita Pritchett unanimously voted to push the proposed Ordinance forward and have it return to the Commission for final vote on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Commissioners Curt Smith and John Tobia were not present for the vote.
On March 22, 2019, the County Manager’s Office circulated a revised version of the Ordinance, drafted by Commissioner Pritchett, despite Pritchett’s having discussed and voted to support Lober’s proposed Ordinance a mere 10 days earlier.
The changes proposed, by Pritchett, effectively neuter the Ordinance to the point that it would not apply to a single existing pet store.
Both the original and the draft now being touted by Pritchett define a “pet store” as any retail establishment that: has obtained a tax receipt… and… sells… dogs or cats. One of Pritchett’s proposed changes is to wholly exempt from the Ordinance “any individual or entity with a business tax receipt… for the retail sale of dogs or cats.”
Think about that. In order to be defined as a pet store, a business must have a business tax receipt but businesses with business tax receipts would be exempt from the Ordinance, meaning it wouldn’t apply to any existing business.
Also changed in Pritchett’s draft is a section prohibiting retail sale of puppy mill dogs in public places (e.g., flea markets). Pritchett totally struck through this section.
If passed without this section, anyone could legally sell puppy mill dogs so long as they don’t do so from a retail pet store. Coupled with the other change mentioned in the last paragraph, this means there would essentially be no restrictions at all.
Pritchett proposed additional changes which further weakened the Ordinance, including one which would allow breeders with a documented history of egregious USDA violations to continue selling to retail pet stores.
Another change proposed by Pritchett removed the requirement that consumers purchasing directly from breeders be able to confer with the breeder concerning the conditions in which the dogs were raised.
Pritchett, in her proposed Ordinance, also weakened the enforcement and penalty section to the point that store owners could view the penalties imposed as simply the cost of doing business.
Prichett’s changes would additionally result in pet stores being required to maintain records for dogs obtained from shelters and rescue groups but not dogs obtained from breeders.
This would only serve to discourage shop owners from obtaining dogs from shelters and rescues because of the increased recordkeeping requirements.
Another Pritchett change calls into question whether rescue organizations or shelters would be able to seek adoption fees to offset or recover veterinary expenses they’ve incurred in nurturing sick puppies back to health as her proposed change prevents these groups from “selling” animals.
Pritchett should not backtrack her support for Lober’s Ordinance.
I urge Brevard citizens to call Commissioner Pritchett, at 321-607-6901, and tell her and her staff how you feel about these irrational changes.
– Tiffany Johnson, Melbourne
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober talks about his Puppy Mill Ordinance, which will prohibit retail pet stores from sourcing pets from “puppy mills.”
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