Puppy Mill Ordinance Provides Consumers With Increased Transparency of Origin of Their Pets
By Bryan Lober, Brevard County Commission Vice Chair // April 12, 2019
Ordinance Requires retail pet stores to identify name and location of the dog or cat breeder
After several public hearings involving dozens of individuals offering public comment, on Tuesday, April 9, the County Commission passed an ordinance I proposed which better ensures that dogs and cats sold at retail pet stores were not sourced from puppy mills or kitten factories.
In the form in which it was passed, the ordinance requires that dogs or cats sold at retail pet stores and in public places such as flea markets be sourced from rescue organizations, shelters, hobby breeders, or USDA licensed commercial breeders with no violations of law in the preceding 48-month period.
Retail pet shops in Brevard County will not be able to source puppies or kittens from any USDA commercial breeder which is not in compliance with this zero-tolerance requirement.
Moreover, consumers will be provided with increased transparency regarding the origin of their pets.
The ordinance puts in place a requirement that retail pet stores clearly post the breed of the dog or cat being sold, its USDA identification number, as well as the name and location of the breeder from which it was sourced. Ensuring consumers are better informed benefits both trustworthy pet stores as well as the public.
Why are we regulating the retail side of the industry as opposed to going more directly after the puppy mills and kitten factories?
All available evidence shows that the puppy mill dogs and kitten factory kittens sold in Brevard County originate almost entirely out of state. Brevard County has no legal right to enact laws outside of its borders and, just as importantly, the Sheriff’s Office has no ability to enforce laws on out of state mills.
The ordinance Brevard County adopted is unique in that it is both more and less stringent than others adopted nearby.
It is less restrictive in that retail pet stores may continue to source from commercial breeders – provided they have clean records. It is also less restrictive in that it applies only to dogs and cats, not other species of animals.
The ordinance is more stringent in that there is no slap on the wrist for an initial violation.
Upon the very first infraction, those found in violation may be arrested and prosecuted. Each animal kept or sold in violation of the ordinance may be treated as a separate criminal act. Each day an animal is kept or sold in violation constitutes another criminal act.
This ordinance better ensures that retail pet stores have a tremendous disincentive to source from abusive breeders while still allowing retail pet stores broad latitude in where they choose to source.
Honest and trustworthy stores can continue operating as they’ve always been operating. However, stores hiding their heads in the sand or, worse yet, knowingly sourcing from mills are in for quite the awakening.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brevard County Commission Vice Chair Bryan Lober represents District 2, which includes Merritt Island, Cocoa, Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Avon by the Sea, Rockledge, Kennedy Space Center, Snug Harbor and Patrick Air Force Base.
Lober and his wife, Rebecca, have lived in Brevard County since 2011. Since adopting their one-eyed rescue dog, “Winks,” the Lober family decided to make their forever home in Brevard County.
Lober is the only attorney serving on the Brevard County Commission. He served as the 2016 – 2017 President of the Brevard County Bar Association – the youngest individual on record to have served in such capacity in the organization’s more than 64-year history.
He and his wife enjoy woodworking, SCUBA diving, and volunteering with animal rescue organizations.
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