Sunny Isles Beach

Sunny Isles Beach commission discusses, tables puppy mill ordinance

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Following the trend of neighboring cities to curb puppy mill sales, Sunny Isles Beach commission members discussed a proposed ordinance banning the sale of cats and dogs in retail stores, but then decided at the March 20 meeting to table the ordinance until more research could be done concerning options.

Although the city does not currently have any pet stores, Commissioner Jennifer Levin said she felt prompted to propose the ordinance because of her own dog.

Six years ago, Levin said she adopted a 7-year-old Chihuahua that weighted 5 ½ pounds.

“She was born in a puppy mill in Texas,” Levin said. “She lived in a shed with 400 dogs and had never seen daylight. She was never taken care of and had terrible periodontal disease and they had to pull a lot of her teeth.

“She was socially a wreck when I got her. She had never been around people. She was a mess.”

Through positive reinforcement training, Levin said she was able to nurture the animal. “She is the sweetest, most wonderful animal in the world.”

Aventura and Surfside are some of the neighboring cities that have recently passed similar ordinances.

While Commissioner Jeanette Gatto empathized with the ban of puppy mill sales, she said there should be another option other than banning the sale of certain animals.

“I don’t want to be the kind of city that would categorically ban any kind of business other than the ban of liquor stores near schools,” Gatto said.

Vice Mayor Isaac Aelion agreed, saying the ordinance handicaps the owner of a pet store and cut into the “bread and butter” of a business.

Gatto noted how the city of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County passed an ordinance requiring pet stores to post signs indicating the origin of the dogs and cats and provided a certificate of the source. The ordinance also allows only the sale of cats and dogs bred on the premises or animals from rescue organizations.

The vote to table the ordinance until a future commission meeting was unanimous.

The next commission meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 17.

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