FLORIDA – New pet stores in Palm Beach County might soon be barred from selling puppies and kittens.
County commissioners are currently considering the ordinance for the first time Tuesday as part of an effort to clamp down on commercial breeders known as puppy mills or kitten factories.
The county would end issuing permits to new pet shops that sell cats and dogs effective Nov. 1 if the measure passes. New pet stores would be banned from selling any dogs or cats but could offer supplies or other animals for sale.
The ordinance, however, would allow existing pet stores to continue selling puppies and kittens, provided the animals are obtained from licensed breeders that comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. At least eight pet stores offered dogs or cats for sale in Palm Beach County back in 2015, according to the proposed ordinance.
The brand new rules would apply to unincorporated Palm Beach County and the county’s 39 cities.
Commissioner Shelley Vana has proposed the regulations in March, saying stronger rules would prevent pet overpopulation and animal cruelty.
Approximately 1,500 dogs and 3,000 cats are euthanized annually in the county’s animal shelter, according to Dianne Sauve, director of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
Many animal advocates say the proposal doesn’t go far enough. They want to see an outright ban on the sale of puppies and kittens at all pet shops, even those that have been operating for years.
David Torgerson, who pushed for a city ban in Delray Beach, explained that he doesn’t think federal inspections of breeding facilities are sufficient to shut down bad breeders.
“The county doesn’t have the manpower to investigate every puppy that comes into grandfathered stores,” he stated.
County staff is requesting the funding for a part-time animal control officer to help enforce the new rules if they pass.
JoAnn Cordova, who owns the Love My Puppy pet store in Boca Raton, stated that banning sales at existing pet stores would force her to shut down her family-owned business that employs eight people. She went on to say that her store already meets the county’s proposed standards and goes to great lengths to ensure its animals come from good breeders and are sold to the right owners.
“When you ban all pet sales, you take away choices and force dog sales underground,” Cordova stated.
The ordinance would also impose some additional regulations on animal rescues and private shelters. Those organizations would be barred from obtaining animals from commercial breeders and would be also required to submit monthly reports to the county.
The breeding of cats that are not registered pedigrees would also be strictly prohibited by the ordinance.
Almost two dozen cities in Broward and Palm Beach counties have banned the sale of dogs at pet shops, including most recently Delray Beach and Deerfield Beach.
Just five years ago, the Palm Beach County Commission required pet shops to disclose where their dogs were born and bred.
The latest ordinance would need to be approved a total of two times to take effect.
A second hearing is now scheduled for Sept. 27.