No pet store currently sells puppies and kittens in St. Petersburg. On the other hand, some of the pet stores bring in animals from human groups and rescues. Some organize adoption days when such pets are available.
Despite the fact that pet stores were doing the right thing, an ordinance was still needed to ensure that no pet store ever does business with a puppy mill.
Council members have unanimously approved an ordinance that bans pet stores in St. Petersburg from selling dogs or cats unless they can show the animal came from a humane organization.
The approval followed an emotional public hearing in which animal advocates displayed graphic, gut-wrenching photographs of dogs kept in puppy mills for breeding purposes. Other supporters came close to tears over the plight of the animals that are in puppy mills or that are killed in shelters because of pet overpopulation.
Council member Karl Nurse, who had proposed the idea, which had the support of Mayor Rick Kriseman, made the motion to pass the ordinance. Nurse said he hoped the ordinance would help stem the “endless onslaught of puppies that are not spayed and neutered.”
The ordinance provides that pet stores, which includes groomers, flea markets and pet hospitals, cannot sell dogs or cats unless they come from rescue organizations or humane societies. The rule does not apply to hobby breeders who sell animals from their homes.
The ordinance also covers the display of pets for sale. The requirements include an age limit – the animal must be at least eight weeks old, have access to fresh water and a health certificate. Information about the animal’s breed, age, source and known health issues should also be provided.
Council member Charlie Gerdes said he would like to thank St. Petersburg residents for being the reason that no pet stores are selling animals that come from puppy mills. It’s the public’s refusal to buy such animals that prevent the stores from carrying them. But Gerdes agreed the ordinance is necessary to avoid future problems.
“We don’t have them now, let’s not have them,” Gerdes said.