Miami-Dade County

Miami considers moratorium on puppy sales

The City of Miami may become the latest South Florida municipality to ban the retail sale of dogs.

On Thursday, city commissioners gave tentative approval to a six-month moratorium on new stores selling dogs or cats in order to research an outright ban on the commercial sale of the animals. Commissioners did so at the urging of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, whose spokesman said retail pet shops get their dogs from puppy mills, known for mass-breeding puppies in unhealthy conditions.

Ultimately, spokesman Don Anthony said, many of these dogs have severe health issues and end up in publicly funded animal shelters.

“You and all these people pay to house, feed and eventually kill them,” he said.

Commissioner Francis Suarez, who proposed the moratorium, said there are 13 pet stores in Miami. He said the potential moratorium isn’t a condemnation of those shopkeepers.

“What we’re doing is studying this issue for six months and making a recommendation to this commission on whether there should be an outright ban,” he said.

No shopkeepers spoke during the meeting. Animal-rights advocate and Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow told commissioners she’d investigated pet stores in Miami and found that many are indeed buying dogs from puppy mills.

Other South Florida cities, including North Miami Beach, have banned the commercial sale of puppies. Lazarow said cities like Hallandale Beach are cracking down on pet shops because the federal government has been unable to address the issue.

“The reason the municipalities have taken control is we’ve given them ample opportunities to do that and they haven’t,” she said.

Commissioners must approve of the moratorium a second time for it to take effect.

In other news Thursday, the multi-block Miami Worldcenter project cleared a major hurdle, winning commission approval of zoning amendments and an agreement with the city. The three unanimous votes set the stage for construction of a massive shopping and residential complex as well as an adjacent hotel and expo center on the site of the old Miami Arena.

Developers, who allayed concerns raised by some activists and neighborhood business owners over public access and the impact of the zoning changes, must still present concrete plans for approval from city planners. The concerns earlier led to a three-month delay at the planning and zoning board.

Miami Herald staff writer Andres Viglucci contributed to this report.