Some pet shop owners in Phoenix may be upset by a recent District Court ruling, but for the rest of us, it’s good news in the fight against puppy mills.
In 2013, the City of Phoenix passed an ordinance that banned pet stores from selling dogs or cats that came from professional breeders. Pets could only be sold if they came from “an animal shelter, nonprofit humane society, or nonprofit animal-rescue organization,” according to the ordinance.
This kind of law, thankfully, is becoming more common in cities across the country. In Phoenix’s case however, there was resistance. Frank and Vickie Mineo, owners of a local pet store called Puppies ‘N Love, filed a lawsuit claiming that the ordinance was unconstitutional and would cause them to go out of business. In the ruling last week, Judge David Campbell disagreed with the Mineos. In Campbell’s ruling, he praised the Mineo’s store and their business ethics:
Puppies ‘N Love appears to be an exemplary pet store. The store avoids buying from puppy mills and works hard to ensure that its puppies have been raised in a humane and caring environment.
But ultimately, Campbell said that it wasn’t his job to analyze the ethical standards of the Mineos, but only the constitutionality of the law. And according to that standard, the Phoenix law triumphed.
City Councilwoman Thelda Williams, one of the original backers of the ordinance, told The Arizona Republic, “I’m just delighted that the city of Phoenix won. This means more protection for puppy lovers and the puppies themselves. We have so many dogs in Arizona that need homes, we don’t need to import them.”
Naturally, not everyone is so happy. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which opposes all laws of this kind, released a statement condemning the ruling. In the statement, PIJAC Vice President Mike Bober said, “Banning Puppies N’ Love won’t shut down a single puppy mill, though it will likely hurt several federally licensed and regulated responsible breeders. It will definitely harm Puppies N’ Love, owned for 40 years by people who care for pets and treat them lovingly. We think the far better course is to enforce rigorous breeding standards and to arm consumers with information so they are empowered to make sure their dog comes from a reputable breeder.”
Frank Mineo says that he’s leaning toward filing an appeal. In the end, though, it seems like a futile gesture that would do more to prove his — and industry groups like PIJAC’s — resistance to changing the way that things are done. All the time, energy, and money that has been spent fighting this ordinance could have been directed toward finding alternatives. Awareness of the problems in breeding and puppy mills is growing, and even huge chains like Petco have been able to adapt to that reality. So should the rest of the industry.
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