Carmel pet stores unable to sell cats and dogs under new order

Update: Carmel city councilors voted 7 to 1 Monday, June 20 to ban the sale of cats and dogs in city pet stores. Councilwoman Laura Campbell was the only one to vote “no”.

Councilors suspended their usual procedures for hearing amendments and voted to pass the ordinance immediately after it was introduced on Monday.

Original story: Carmel Councilman Adam Aasen wants to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores in town, although no businesses currently do so.

This is a proactive effort to ensure businesses that sell cats and dogs from puppy mills cannot do so within the city limits of Carmel, Aasen said.

“With this action, we will not affect any Carmel businesses,” Aasen said. “It’s not a preferable situation to have to close a business. At Carmel, we always try to be proactive instead of reactive.

Amendments to an existing city ordinance, sponsored by Aasen, are undergoing initial reading before the Carmel City Council at its public meeting on Monday. It will likely be sent to one of the city council’s committees for further review after Monday’s meeting.

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Aasen said the existing Carmel ordinance already prohibits puppy mills in Carmel and prohibits pet stores from sourcing animals from puppy mills. Aasen’s proposed amendments to the ordinance would make it easier for the city to apply.

The ordinance amendments still allow “responsible and licensed breeders” to sell animals to consumers in Carmel, Aasen said. It also allows pet stores to continue to partner with animal rescue organizations to show adoptable cats and dogs.

“It’s not about trying to stop farming in Carmel. We haven’t received a single complaint from breeders since we tightened the order a few years ago,” Aasen said.

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“If you’re a breeder and you do things responsibly, no one will call the police or code enforcement against you.”

In 2021, Illinois banned the sale of breeder cats and dogs in pet stores.

As a result, Indiana has seen new pet stores open last year that sell cats and dogs, said Samantha Morton, Indiana director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Morton said the Humane Society is encouraged by communities in Indiana, like Carmel, who are taking a proactive approach to banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.

“Where you live in a city, you don’t necessarily have control over where that puppy mill operates, because those puppy mills are often located in rural areas, whether it’s Indiana, L. ‘Iowa or Missouri,” Morton said.

“But the communities control what they allow in their communities and the businesses that would sell these types of animals. These communities have the choice and impact to make a humane decision in moving forward with an order like this.

Additionally, Morton said the concern over the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores is not just an animal welfare issue, but a consumer protection issue.

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“A lot of times these people buy very expensive dogs and these pet stores that often get a sick puppy where they’re kind of obligated not only if they fund it but also if the dog is sick they have to take it to the vet and the herd those kind of costs,” Morton said.

But Jennifer Clark, director of legislative outreach for the American Kennel Club, said in an email to IndyStar that retail bans can “exacerbate” the problem of bad breeders and sellers.

“The most effective way to shut down irresponsible breeders, rescues, or sellers of animals is to prevent them from making money from the sale or transfer of unhealthy animals,” Clark wrote. “Retail bans take away the choice of getting a puppy from a regulated and licensed pet store that offers consumer protections and a medical history of the animal. In many cases, the bans then drive prospective pet owners to the internet where sick puppies and scams are common.

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Additionally, retail bans may impact the rescue of legitimate breeds, Clark wrote.

“As written, this proposal would not just limit stores to sourcing from shelters and rescues. It would go further by only allowing them to source from rescues with no affiliation with breeders,” Clark wrote. “This could have a significant impact on legitimate breed rescue efforts.”

Carmel City Council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at Carmel Town Hall, 1 Civic Square.

Contact IndyStar Carmel and Westfield reporter Brittany Carloni at [email protected] or 317-779-4468. Follow her on Twitter @CarloniBretagne.