Council OKs amended bill to govern pet stores in city

Family Puppy faces softer restrictions

The Family Puppy Store, a pet shop that sells only dogs, is accused by animal rights groups of buying animals from ‘puppy mills.’
The Family Puppy Store, a pet shop that sells only dogs, is accused by animal rights groups of buying animals from ‘puppy mills.’

A store in West Toledo that sells puppies will be allowed to remain with some new restrictions, but new pet shops seeking to open after Jan. 1 will face much tougher regulations under a law approved Tuesday by Toledo City Council.

The compromise version of a controversial law regulating cat and dog sales in Toledo was approved 11-1, with Councilman Mike Craig the lone dissenter.

The law prohibits the sale or exchange of “companion animals” in pet shops, retail businesses, and commercial establishments not in operation on or before Jan. 1, 2014, unless the animals are obtained from a “legitimate animal shelter or animal-control agency, humane society, or nonprofit rescue organization, and the animals are spayed or neutered.”

Family Puppy, a southeast Michigan chain, opened in October at Franklin Park Mall amid controversy and protests. John Stottele, who co-owns Family Puppy with his wife, Deb, has said he obtains puppies from about 20 primarily Amish breeders in Indiana.

The first proposal would have required Family Puppy to comply with the tougher restrictions on where it could obtain animals.

Councilman Rob Ludeman, a supporter of the original proposal, offered the compromise at council’s regular meeting Tuesday.

“The Chamber of Commerce pointed out that no ordinance was in place when the store opened, and how could we retroactively cause them to close?” he asked.

As approved, the law allows the store to sell only puppies more than 8 weeks old to customers age 18 or older; must implant the animals with identifying microchips and provide initial vaccinations, and pay a $50 fee for any dog that is not spayed or neutered.

“So we are promoting spaying or neutering,” Mr. Ludeman said. “I don’t think it would be too restrictive that it would force them to close.”

Mr. Stottele could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Susan Robinson, a retired teacher from Woodville who testified last month in favor of the original language, said a group opposing the sale of puppies from “puppy mills” would continue its weekly protests of Family Puppy outside the mall.

The law also requires any pet shop to provide the breeder’s name and address, if known, and whether the person from whom the dog or cat was obtained is a dealer licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or the state of Ohio. Violations are first-degree misdemeanors.

In other business, council voted 10-2 to approve a request from Toledo Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins to hike the salary range for the city’s next director of business development, a post he said would be confirmed by council. The salary cap increased from $92,500 to $135,000.

Councilman Adam Martinez and Joe McNamara voted no.

Mr. Collins said the salary raise for that position will be more than offset by cuts he plans for the mayor’s staff in 2014.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.