Hillsborough Pushes To Put Puppy Mills Out Of Business

New Pet Stores In Hillsborough County Are Close To Seeing A Big Change

Hillsborough County is one step closer to banning the commercial sale of cats and dogs.

County commissioners have proposed a new ordinance that requires new pet stores to only sell dogs or cats purchased from local animal shelters. The new stores would not be allowed to purchase and sell animals from large-scale breeders.

The push is an effort to put puppy mills, which are known for keeping animals in inhumane conditions, out of business.

However, existing pet stores would be exempt from the rule and would be able to continue to operate as they are now. The exemption came after county commissioners heard complaints from owners and employees of current Hillsborough pet stores.

The ban was proposed by Commissioner Ken Hagan, who says majority of breeders use abusive practices and animals are kept in inhumane conditions.

“Eliminating the sales outlet is essential to addressing this problem,” Hagan said to the Tampa Bay Times. “It doesn’t make sense to import animals when we already have thousands of unwanted animals.”

Hagan said that a lot of pet store suppliers aren’t located in Florida so this ban is the only way to guarantee dogs and cats aren’t coming from breeders.

While the ban is something many animal lovers have been wanting, it drew outcry from two Bay Area pet stores.

According to the Times, owners and employees of All About Puppies, located in Carrollwood and Brandon, made it known that they didn’t support the ban. Puppies Tampa, located on N. Dale Mabry Highway, was another pet store that disapproved of the ban.

William Roland, owner of Puppies Tampa, told the Times, “This ordinance as written 100 percent force-closes my business in 90 days.”

That gained the attention of several commissioners, who don’t want to see county regulation shut down a local business.

“I do not want to put anybody out of business today. That’s wrong,” Commissioner Sandy Murman said to the Times. “America was founded on people having the right to open a business, keep a business and operate it without fear of government regulation.”

Those in favor of the new rule made an appearance at the meeting wearing baby blue T-shirts saying “My puppy my choice.”

But commissioners voted to grandfather in the existing pet stores and create an incentive program to encourage the sale of dogs and cats from the county’s Pet Resource Center and other shelters throughout the county.

The ban doesn’t affect big chain stores like PetSmart, due to the fact that those stores already pursue the sale of rescued dogs and cats, said Hagan to the Times.

The final vote and a public hearing for this ban will take place next month.

The county attorney’s office said 48 other Florida jurisdictions have already passed similar bans.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.