LARGO – There will be no new pet stores in the town of Largo, and the two currently operating have new rules to follow.
On September 7, the Municipal Commission voted 6-1 on final reading to pass a long-debated ordinance that promulgates new regulations for the commercial sale of dogs and cats within city limits. It also prohibits the establishment of stores in new locations in the city.
Commissioner Michael Smith cast a dissenting vote against the ordinance which has been in the works for two years.
“I’m completely against this ordinance,” said Smith, who argues for an adoption-based model that would follow the path of municipalities like Dunedin and St. Petersburg, and Hillsborough and Pasco counties, which have banned the sale. commercial pet business. .
The move aims to crack down on stores that sell dogs from so-called “puppy mills,” which the Humane Society of the United States defines as inhumane, high-volume dog-breeding facilities that produce puppies at large. profit, ignoring the needs of puppies and their mothers. Puppy mill dogs are often sick and unsocialized.
However, unlike Dunedin and St. Petersburg, Largo has two stores operating within its limits – All About Puppies and Sunshine Puppies, both on Ulmerton Road. There are three other stores along Ulmerton Road, the largest of which is Petland across from the Largo Mall, but they are not within the city limits and fall under the jurisdiction of Pinellas County.
“I can assure that the closure of two stores in the town of Largo… will (not) make any difference to the overall picture of what the puppy mill problem is,” said Deputy Mayor Jamie Robinson, who said he didn’t I don’t want employees to lose their jobs.
The owners of the Largo pet store are adamant that they do not buy or sell animals at puppy mills, and have said they are happy with the new ordinance, which requires stores to provide detailed information about the source of the dogs they sell, including the name and license numbers of the United States Department of Agriculture breeding facility where the animal was raised and the city from which the animal was raised animal is native.
Information should be posted on or near each animal’s pen.
“We are very proud of the way our small family business is handled this ordinance,” said Alexandria Julien of All About Puppies. “It’s well documented, thought out and debated. “
She added that the store has obtained all the required documents and is in compliance.
Animal advocates and members of the Humane Society had previously spoken out against the ordinance, saying that while the intention was good, it did little to deter puppy mills.
Since then, Mayor Woody Brown said he has held workshops with pet store owners, SPCA representatives and rescue groups.
“Overall, everyone agreed that we have to stand up for the players in this arena who are doing things right,” he said. “Fortunately, the two stores we deal with within our city limits seem to be doing it right. “
The order also follows federal law that pet store owners should only purchase dogs from approved and licensed USDA breeders, who have not suffered any direct or indirect USDA violations over the years. last two years and have a valid active state license. upright.
The rules also require stores to have a valid animal health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in Florida.
“This ordinance goes a long way in doing all we can as a city to ensure that the stores that operate in our city… continue to obtain their puppies from well-managed sources, that the dogs are treated well,” said Brown said.