BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Two bills now under review by Florida lawmakers are coming under fire by animal advocates who call them an attack on local government.
- 2 bills on pet store regulations under review by Florida lawmakers
- Animal advocates are calling the bills an attack on local government
- Bills could reverse local laws that are already in place
The bills seek to erase any local laws already in place when it comes to regulating pet stores, which some officials say could set a dangerous precedent.
Last year, Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober crafted a county ordinance regulating pet stores, aimed to address the sale of dogs and cats from "puppy mills" and "kitten factories."
“The intent of this section is to prohibit the retail sale of commercially bred dogs and cats from puppy mills and kitten factories at pet stores," the ordinance said. "Rather, an adoption-based business model shall be encouraged for the retail sale of dogs or cats at pet stores in the county.”
The Humane Society defines a puppy mill as “an inhumane, commercial dog breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't require retail pet stores to be federally licensed.
“Seeing how it was a problem, it was something that was not being addressed with the laws in place. It seemed necessary to step in and fill that void," Lober said.
It’s a void that could again exist, if Senate Bill 1698 and companion House Bill 1237 pass. The bills outline statewide pet store regulations, instead of allowing local governments to oversee pet stores.
The last paragraph of the bill states: “This part preempts any local ordinance or regulation of a county or municipality which prohibits or regulates pet stores.”
“In terms of prohibiting and tying the county’s hands from being able to regulate something that’s appropriate for the county to regulate — it is very concerning,” Lober said.
Spectrum News 13 also spoke with Danielle Houston, who is hoping to use her heartbreaking situation as a platform for tougher pet regulations.
Last year, Houston bought a dog from Melbourne pet store, Puppies Plus. The dog, named Bandit, was initially diagnosed with kennel cough. Weeks later, after other health issues developed, a doctor euthanized Bandit to end his suffering.
“I don’t want anything to happen to anyone else," Houston said. "It’s not fair to the animals, it’s not fair to the people.”
Puppies Plus owner Bill Jacobson told us his pet store follows the county ordinance. We found permitting and inspection reports conducted by The Florida Department of Health-Brevard.
Jacobson said he did treat Bandit for kennel cough but said Bandit contracted all other health conditions after he left the store.
Houston is now suing Puppies Plus for selling a pet with a pre-existing condition — an allegation Jacobson denies.
Jacobson believes Brevard’s ordinance unfairly links pet stores to puppy mills, which is why he wants to see lawmakers vote yes on SB 1698.
“I think it’s time to shut down these radical animal rights groups that are going around lobbying for banning pet stores," Jacobson said.
Jacobson thinks lawmakers should stop focusing on retail pet stores and channel their energy to shut down puppy mills and kitten factories.
Both bills are still under review by state lawmakers.