Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay moves to ban sale of puppy-mill pets in village


Special to the Miami Herald

The Palmetto Bay Village Council has tentatively approved a new law that prohibits retail stores in the village from selling pets purchased from mass-breeding facilities.

Known as puppy mills and kitten factories, these mass-production facilities breed pets that are later sold either directly to the customer or through retail pet stores.

The Humane Society of the United States says that mass-production facilities are often overcrowded and aside from basic living conditions – such as food, water and shelter – the facilities keep the pets in below par environments in an effort to minimize care costs and maximize profits. The overcrowding at puppy mills and kitten factories often leads to pets being born with genetic diseases, according to the society.

The new law strives to put mass-production facilities out of business by eliminating the market where breeders can sell their pets.

“If we get enough cities and counties to join us in the effort to stop it, it will eventually have a significant effect,” said Vice Mayor John DuBois, who sponsored the initiative. “Hopefully, the effect will be putting the puppy mills out of business and making it difficult for them to find retail outlets.”

The law is modeled after a similar ordinance passed by the city of Hallandale Beach a year ago.

In Florida, state laws do not regulate or outline the maximum number of pets allowed in mass-production factories, licensing requirements, and minimum humane standards, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Palmetto Bay’s new law is more of a preventative measure, as it pertains only to future pet stores that plan to set up shop in the village. Village staff has said that currently there are three pet stores in Palmetto Bay and none of them obtain their pets from puppy mills or kitten factories, according to documents provided to the village council.

The new law says that pet stores in Palmetto Bay can obtain their animals from a shelter or an animal-rescue organization. The pet-store owner is also allowed to breed cats and dogs on the premises. Next to each pet’s cage, the business would have to display a document that provides information about the pet’s origin.

As a practical matter, these rules also would prohibit the sale of puppies from small, reputable breeders, but such people typically sell directly to consumers rather than through stores.

DuBois added that the new law also strives to encourage people to adopt their pets from shelters and rescues.

“Even though there is nothing wrong with properly breeding a dog, I don’t like to encourage people to bring more animals because there are plenty of good dogs out there that are put down because there is no room in shelters,” he said. “When people buy dogs from pet stores, there’s a general perception that they are buying better dogs. What they don’t realize is that sometimes these dogs have issues and can have diseases related to overcrowding. Some of these salespeople get them from puppy mills. They are not going to tell buyers that.”

Miami-Dade County’s animal shelter in Medley takes in about 37,000 cats and dogs annually. At times, the euthanasia rate because of overcrowding is as high as one half of the number of animals that come into the shelter.

To enforce the new law, the village reserves the right to fine pet stores $250 a day, and to file civil lawsuits.

In other business on Monday, the council:

• Agreed to accept a $3,553 grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The money from the federal grant, which is administered locally by the county, will be used for Palmetto Bay’s School Resource Officer Project “radKIDS,” which aims to train students to recognize and escape kidnapping situations.

• Agreed to hire Wrangler Construction for drainage improvements of four areas in Palmetto Bay to reduce flooding during storms. The contracted price for the four areas, part of 11 locations identified for drainage improvements, is not to exceed $229,412.

• Agreed to extend a contract with H & J Asphalt for resurfacing and striping of village roads. The contract is not to exceed $210,000.

• Approved creation of the Education Advisory Committee, which will meet to ensure that the provisions established in the village’s Education Compact with the Miami-Dade school board are met.

• Put off action on a traffic study for the Franjo Triangle area. Village staff had proposed hiring Marlin Engineering to conduct the study for $39,275. The village has embarked in a project to redevelop the area and turn in into a downtown district, complete with mid-rises, offices and businesses.

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