ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WTSP) – St. Petersburg city council will introduce a new ordinance on Thursday that will ban pet stores from selling cats and dogs unless those animals come from rescue or humane organizations.
Council member Karl Nurse said the purpose of the ordinance is to cut down on the number of animals euthanized each year, and to thwart the power of puppy mills, which often supply pet stores with animals. He said cities and counties that do not have restrictions on puppy mills create a surplus of dogs, leading to thousands of animals that are killed every year.
Nurse said St. Petersburg is not currently having problems with pet stores selling animals that come from puppy mills because stores in the city get their animals from shelters and rescues. However, Nurse said it is important to get ahead of the problem and prevent any future stores from selling puppy mill-bred animals.
The other hope behind the ordinance is that Pinellas County will follow St. Pete’s lead as there are a few stores in some part of the county that do get animals from mills.
“If you could find a way that you would kill several thousand fewer animals in town, in your county each year, save taxpayers money, and still allow people to get whatever kind of animal they want, you’d say. ‘yes,’ and that’s what this ordinance does,” said Nurse.
Right now, there are about 50 communities in Florida that have similar ordinances in place. Sarasota recently put similar rules into effect. Nurse said in areas that have these ordinances, the number of animals that are put down typically drops by about 50 percent.
Officials at Pinellas County Animal Services said the ordinance could have a positive impact if it eventually passes county-wide, although businesses that rely on puppy mills will have to adjust their business model as they will lose income from those puppy sales.
Nurse said those stores would likely have to make much of their money on supplies.
The St. Pete ordinance does not apply to hobby or home breeders. Those found in violation of any parts of the rules would have to pay $500 per offense.
If the ordinance moves forward on Thursday, a public hearing will be set for the issue on July 14.