Pet stores in Sandy Springs would be prohibited from selling dogs and cats from breeding facilities, and only allowed to host pet adoptions from rescue organizations, under a new city law in the works.
No pet stores in the city currently sell such animals anyway, officials said at a Nov. 7 City Council meeting. But the planned ordinance “to promote adoption of rescue animals” drew council support as a symbolic and preventative measure.
“The rationale is, take away the profits, you get rid of those puppy mills” where animals are raised in “terrible conditions,” said Councilmember Gabriel Sterling.
The ordinance was presented in a non-voting work session, where councilmembers agreed for city staff to move ahead with a final version.
Assistant City Clerk Kelly Bogner and City Attorney Dan Lee presented the ordinance as promoting humane treatment of animals, protecting customers and potentially saving local government money that might be spent dealing with abandoned animals. The proposed ordinance’s preamble cites such organizations as the Humane Society of the United States, the Georgia SPCA, Fix Georgia Pets and the American Kennel Club.
The concern, officials say, is that most cats and dogs sold in pet stores are from so-called mills. As the ordinance’s preamble explains, “puppy and kitten mills are mass-breeding facilities that produce puppies and kittens with an emphasis on profit over welfare of the animal. These mills generally house these animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization.”
The ordinance would ban pet stores from any type of commercial trading of dogs and cats and permit them only to host rescue animals from government- or nonprofit-operated shelters. Even then, stores would be required to post a sign showing what organization each animal came from.
And cats and dogs under 8 weeks old could not be adopted.
A pet store could be fined up to $500 per violation.
The ordinance would not bar individual customers from purchasing dogs or cats directly from a breeder “where consumers can see directly the conditions in which the dogs or cats are bred, or can confer directly with the breeder concerning those conditions.”
“I think this is a good idea,” Mayor Rusty Paul said of the proposed ordinance.
“I strongly support this ordinance,” said Councilmember Ken Dishman, adding that “this particular issue hits close to home” because his daughter supports the concept and they recently adopted a dog.
Correction: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect name for the Humane Society of the United States.