Our fight to stop the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores is one of our biggest, one we’re waging against fierce industry opposition across the country. The pet store and puppy mill interests are out in force right now, and we’re taking them on in flashpoint battles in Florida and Texas. The situations may be different, but the basic issue is the same. The puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline is a source of animal cruelty, consumer heartache and bad faith that we can eliminate by ending the sale of puppy mill animals in the retail marketplace.
The situation in Florida is urgent. There, after a failed attempt to directly prohibit local ordinances to end puppy mill puppy sales in pet stores, Petland and its allies in the pet store sector have taken a new tack. They’re putting their weight behind SB 620, the Local Business Protection Act, which mandates that if a city or county in Florida passes an ordinance affecting more than 15% of a business’ profit, that business may seek damages for lost revenue. In other words, if a locality passed an ordinance that stopped a Petland store from selling puppies, the city/county might have to reimburse the store for what it could have made selling puppy mill puppies–with taxpayer dollars. The pet store and puppy mill interests hope that the passage of this bill will discourage any more Florida communities from approving humane pet store ordinances, as 83 Florida localities have done over the past several years. We’re now mobilizing advocates to block this threat.
In Texas, we’re supporting pet store ordinances in three cities, including Dallas, the only major city in the state without one. We think it’s time Dallas joined the 10 other Texas cities that have taken a strong stand for animals, and we’re doing our best to persuade the City Council to approve the ordinance. Our case is strong since it’s clear that the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline flows right through Dallas. There is only one puppy-selling pet store in Dallas, a Petland, and despite claims that the store only sources from licensed breeders, public records show that in 2020 it purchased at least 40 puppies from an unregulated breeder from Missouri, a man arrested and charged with animal cruelty earlier this month. Humane investigators and law enforcement personnel found 60 dogs and a few cats on the man’s property, and they were in poor condition, lacking shelter, food and water. There was no power at the site and no water source for the animals, several of whom were so sickly that they died in the days following their rescue.
In many of our animal protection campaigns, we reach the point when the opposing interest has seen and had enough, and you would think that in 2022, with five states and more than 400 cities, towns and counties nationwide enacting humane pet store laws in a relatively short span of time, Petland and its allies would make the move we’ve asked them to make all along, to a future-focused business model that is entirely divorced from the misery and suffering caused by puppy mills. We’re not there yet, however, and in Florida especially, Petland, with other pet store and puppy mill interests, is putting a lot of money into preserving an increasingly controversial commerce in pets. They’ve sent the signal that they won’t give up without a fight, so we’re going to give them one.