A new Fayetteville law aims to ensure that the city does not facilitate the sale of animals raised in large-scale commercial breeding facilities.
City council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a proposal that bans the retail sale of dogs and cats unless they are first obtained from and in cooperation with the city’s animal shelter or another animal rescue organization.
Although there are currently no pet stores in Fayetteville that sell dogs or cats, city staff said the goal is to prevent any future stores from selling pets that could be bred in inhuman conditions.
Fayetteville’s two largest pet stores — Petco and Petsmart — have corporate warrants against the sale of dogs and cats. And while people can sometimes adopt animals from these stores, pets are made available in conjunction with local animal shelters or animal welfare agencies.
Justine Lentz, superintendent of animal services for the city, said the idea of a ban was first discussed by the city’s animal services advisory board after a Petland pet store franchise, accused of selling breeder puppies on a large scale, opened a new location at Rogers in 2019.
Since the store opened, Lentz said he’s been associated with backlash from customers who say they’ve purchased sick puppies with a wide variety of health issues, from severe worms to Parvo. .
Lentz told the council she wanted to act quickly after recently hearing about a new Petland store coming to town.
“We got wind that someone might be considering opening such a facility here, and we wanted to go ahead,” Lentz said.
A sign for a new Petland store was recently installed at 637 E. Joyce Blvd. next to Newk’s Eatery in north Fayetteville, and a crew was seen cleaning and preparing the new space on Tuesday.
Lentz told the board that his department has seen several animals come through the shelter who were raised in large facilities — often called puppy mills — where animal health is often ignored in order to keep overhead low and maximize profits. profits.
“If you’re not familiar with a puppy mill, count yourself lucky,” Lentz said. “The conditions there are generally quite deplorable.”
Animals raised in these conditions, she said, often have health issues and an inherent fear of humans, as they are generally treated like livestock.
Lentz said the animal services board studied and discussed the proposal, and ultimately voted in favor of recommending that the board institute a ban on the retail sale of dogs and cats. She said in the council’s research, the group found no bans in Arkansas, but found similar legislation in more than 300 cities in 26 states across the country, including a new law passed in Dallas. , Texas, in May.
“We’re not pioneers here, but I think we’re definitely setting a good example,” Lentz said.
The new law will have no effect on the city’s small non-retail breeders.
“If you’re raising on a very small operation, like maybe you have a few dogs and you want to raise them in your backyard and you’re in charge of them, the city is okay with that,” Lentz said.
During public comments, several residents spoke in favor of the proposal. A couple who spoke said they had a great experience with a puppy purchased from Petland.
Karen Barker, a representative for Petland Inc., said the parent company does its best to ensure puppies sold in its franchises have plenty of human interaction before being sold.
“We have procedures and protocols in place,” Barker said. “We always focus on the only priority, which is the health and happiness of the puppies while they are at the store.”
Barker said that in order for a breeder to sell a puppy to a pet store, it must be licensed and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“I’ve visited hundreds of our breeders, all of whom are USDA-certified,” Barker said.
Samantha Boyle, who owns a Petland franchise with stores in Joplin, Missouri and Rogers, said she hopes to open the new Fayetteville store soon.
Boyle said the allegations about his Rogers store were unfounded. She said she knew full well that none of the breeders she worked with would be considered puppy mills.
“A lot of the breeders we use are families like you,” she told the board.
Steve Clark, president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, said the board could be overstepping its bounds trying to regulate what can be sold simply because it doesn’t like how the product is sold.
City Attorney Kit Williams said it would not be the first time the council has issued bylaws on the sale of dogs or cats. He said the city used to allow the sale of pets in parking lots, but that’s no longer the case.
Clark said he was also disheartened to learn that the new Petland store in Fayetteville has gone through all the necessary processes to open and is now facing potential new regulations.
Councilman Teresa Turk asked if the ordinance could be kept for a few weeks to allow Petland owners to speak with the city’s Department of Animal Services about their specific practices and protocols.
Council member Sloan Scroggin said no matter when a decision is made, it should be independent of the new Petland store.
“I feel like this can’t be about Petland,” Scroggin said. “It has to be whether we want a certain type of business banned or not.”
Board member Mark Kinion agreed and said that while local Petland franchise owners can run a store of their own, that doesn’t mean other stores won’t act in a way that facilitates large-scale breeders. .
Council member Holly Hertzberg, who co-sponsored the measure with council member Sarah Bunch, said she was ready to make a decision immediately.
“To me, it has nothing to do with any particular company,” Hertzberg said. “It’s about animal care.”
Hertzberg moved to send the ordinance to third and final reading, and Bunch seconded. This motion passed 5-2 with Scroggin and Turk voting against.
In the final decision, the council voted 8-0 to approve the measure.
Tuesday’s proposal came with an attached emergency clause motion that would have put the new law into effect immediately instead of the standard 30-day deadline, but the motion fell through after Kinion, Turk and council member Mike Wiederkehr voted against. An emergency clause requires a qualified majority to be adopted.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Lioneld Jordan said that in the event of a tie, he would have voted to support the proposal.
“I believe this type of order should be passed, not because of any particular company, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Jordan said.
The full text of the order is included below (download PDF):
AMEND §92.04 SALE OF SICK ANIMALS; KENNEL AND PET ROOM RULES:
AN ORDER TO VARY § 92.04 SALE OF SICK ANIMALS; KENNELS AND PETS RULES PROHIBIT THE RETAIL SALE OF DOGS, CATS, PUPPIES AND KITTENS UNLESS THEY ARE OBTAINED FROM AND IN COLLABORATION WITH THE FAYETTEVILLE ANIMAL SHELTER OR OTHER ANIMAL RESCUE ORGANIZATION, AND DECLARE AN EMERGENCY
WHILE, the City of Fayetteville has an interest in maintaining public safety and the well-being of the citizens and residents of Fayetteville and its visitors; and
WHILE, Ark. Ann.Code § 14-54-103(7) provides that cities have the power to prevent cruelty to animals; and
WHILE, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, of which less than 3,000 are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture; and
WHILE, according to the Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills are high-volume dog-breeding facilities that produce puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the puppies and their mothers; and
WHILE, according to the Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills typically sell through retail pet stores and the majority of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills; and
WHILE, current state and federal regulations do not adequately address the sale of dogs and cats from puppy and kitten mills to retail pet stores; and
WHILE, Petco and Petsmart, the city’s largest pet supply stores, have corporate mandates against the sale of dogs and cats and both work with local pet shelters and shelters to enable adopting pets through these organizations in their stores; and
WHILEit is in the interest of the City of Fayetteville to promote and ensure humane approaches and standards for the disposition and ownership of animals by encouraging the adoption of rescue dogs and cats.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS:
Division 1: That the City Council of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas hereby amend Section 92.04 by enacting a new Subsection (C) as set forth below:
“(C) It is illegal for a pet store to offer for sale or exhibit any dog, cat, puppy or kitten unless it is obtained from and in cooperation with the Fayetteville Animal Shelter, a government or non-profit animal shelter approved by Fayetteville Animal Services, or a non-profit animal rescue organization approved by Fayetteville Animal Services Any pet store offering for sale or exhibiting a dog, cat, puppy or a kitten must affix to the cage of the animal a label mentioning the name and the address of the organization which provides said animal.
Division 2: That the City Council of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, hereby determines that this ordinance shall be effective immediately as it will help prevent the sale of diseased animals from puppy mills and other establishments. commercial breeding in which the health of the animals being raised is ignored, which is necessary for public peace as well as the health and safety of Fayetteville residents. Therefore, the City Council hereby declares that there is such an emergency that this ordinance will come into effect immediately upon its adoption and approval.
The latest headlines from The Fayetteville Flyer, delivered straight to your inbox.