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Sarasota County Bans Sales of Dogs and Cats

Daniel Stockman via Flickr Creative Commons

  Sarasota County Commissioners voted Wednesday to ban the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats at retail pet stores.  The move is meant to crack down on unregulated breeders that keep animals in poor conditions.

The ordinance applies immediately to businesses looking to start selling animals.  Pet stores already selling dogs and cats will be permitted to continue until Jan. 27, 2017.

Petland President and CEO Joe Watson told WGCU in September that ordinances like this one will not address the problem of puppy mills and kitten factories.

“Not a single breeder will go out of business and not a single puppy mill has gone out of business due to any of the bans that have been passed thus far,” said Watson.  “So while we all are passionate and we all have a common goal of putting puppy mills out of business, the reality is we come at this from a different perspective.”

Watson said Petland only get puppies and kittens from U.S. Department of Agriculture regulated breeders. Petland officials say their Sarasota franchise will likely go out of business without the sale of cats and dogs and that offering animals for adoption is not an option for them.

The ordinance allows for “hobby breeders,” who do not produce large quantities of animals and selectively breed purebred dogs and cats.  The definition of hobby breeders in the ordinance was a source of conflict, even among those who supported the ban.  Commissioners passed the ordinance with the intention of revising the definition of a hobby breeder within a year.

Animal welfare advocates have been pushing the Sarasota County Commission to ban the commercial sale of cats and dogs since 2012.