After the October opening of a pet store in Westfield Franklin Park mall that sells puppies, Toledo City Council on Wednesday weighed legislation to bar the sale of a “companion animal” in pet shops, retail businesses, and commercial establishments unless the animal is obtained from a legitimate animal shelter, animal control agency, humane society, or nonprofit rescue organization.
The Family Puppy, a southeast Michigan chain, opened in the mall amid controversy and protests. John Stottele, who co-owns the Family Puppy with his wife, Deb, told The Blade previously he often goes to Indiana to pick up puppies from about 20 primarily Amish breeders who provide him with dogs to sell.
The opening alarmed local animal-rights activists who allege the chain is supplied by commercial breeders who run “puppy mills,” generally characterized as kennels where dogs are bred in cages with little or no human contact, unsanitary conditions, and improper health care.
Councilman Rob Ludeman said many on council were contacted about the store, and he asked the city law department to write legislation modeled on a San Diego ordinance. “Many cities have legislation like this,” he said. “We want to be a compassionate city, not just to each other, but also [to] our four-legged friends.”
The proposal, announced at council’s agenda review meeting and assigned to a committee, also would cover the sale of cats.
It would prohibit the display or sale of dogs or cats unless they are at least 8 weeks old and have their deciduous teeth visibly present. The law would require inoculations, and that animals be spayed or neutered.
City Law Director Adam Loukx said the proposed law was written with input from Gary Willoughby, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society, and Jean Keating, co-founder of a Toledo group called the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates.
The Blade found only two complaints against the Family Puppy since 2009.
In one, the Michigan Agriculture Department investigated a complaint the Family Puppy store in Flint bought an underaged puppy to sell, but investigators found it was older than the paperwork indicated. Another complaint alleged two ill puppies at the same store had contracted parvovirus, a highly contagious disease. An inquiry concluded one had parvovirus; both puppies were euthanized.