North Miami Beach council members tentatively agreed Tuesday to ban the retail sale of pets — including dogs, cats, ferrets, gerbils, hamsters, and rabbits. If the council ratifies its decision, which seems likely, the city could follow in the steps of 11 other South Florida cities, which have passed a similar ban.
Although the city has no pet stores that sell animals, Councilwoman Phyllis Smith, who sponsored the ordinance, said there is a potential for operators of “puppy mills” to be encouraged to set up shop because there is an overflow of too many dogs that need homes in the city.
“I want to nip this in the bud before it becomes a problem. I’m a very big advocate of the Humane Society and because they have a no-kill policy, elderly people or people who are downsizing their homes often find they can’t find a place to donate their pets when they no longer can care for them. We need something to protect our residents and the animals,” she said.
Sales of fish, lizards and birds are not restricted in the ordinance.
Nonprofit organizations could still charge adoption fees for dogs and cats.
Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow, who is spearheading a campaign across South Florida, told the council that the ban will protect their consumers from fraudulent purchase of sick dogs and pets that are raised in commercial breeding facilities. She said the new law will promote community awareness of animal welfare and encourage residents to adopt dogs and cats from shelters.
“In the state of Florida, we look at dogs like they’re a car or an appliance as part of Florida’s Lemon Law. If you buy one and it’s defective, you can take that dog back. Well who’s going to do that? Are you going to take your little puppy back when you know that dog is going to be euthanized?” asked Lazarow.
The ordinance passed 6-0 on first reading. Councilwoman Beth Spiegel was absent. A date for a final vote had not yet been scheduled on Wednesday.
In other action Tuesday, the council voted 4-2 on first reading to grant the city manager the authority to approve the use of the city seal and logo as a sponsor of events. Councilman Frantz Pierre and Councilwoman Smith voted no.
Mayor George Vallejo said he would trust the city manager, Ana Garcia, to make those decisions instead of having the council vote on every request. Smith said after the meeting it was not a personal issue with the city manager but a question of who should make decisions about governance.
“This is an unnecessary change of the law,” Smith said. “The people that were elected to govern should be making those decisions. A city manager can get pressure from outside sources.”
In other news, patrons of North Miami Beach library now have access to ebooks, which are available 24/7 from the library’s digital collection at sefl-municipal.lib.overdrive.com. For more information, visit www.citynmb.com/library.