Plan could prohibit puppy mill pets in stores

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 07, 2016
A plan in the works in St. Petersburg could help put an end to puppy mills.
Those operations force innocent animals to endure terrible conditions.   
From 2011 to 2015, Pinellas County Animal services was forced to put down more than 30,000 dogs and cats, but a new ordinance from St. Pete City council is trying to cut that number down.
Still in its infancy, the proposed ordinance would prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats from commercial breeders, but let them continue doing adoptions. That's a service Pinellas County Animal Services needs.  
“Most of our thousands of cats go out through the pet stores for adoption, so it definitely is a positive and integral system that we have in place with our pet stores,” Director of Pinellas County Animal Services Doug Brightwell said. 
This follows other cities around the country and St. Pete councilman Karl Nurse said they've seen a dramatic drop in the number of pets euthanized.
But Veterinarian Dr. Christy Layton said you need to ask where these shelter pets are coming from.  
“If 80% of the animals at the shelter are purebred and most of those they feel came from puppy mills, then this might be the right choice," Dr. Layton said.
But that's not likely the case, and with this change, pet stores could look to unlicensed sources for puppies and kittens. 
“I would assume that these businesses would just start buying from local "backyard breeders" and then we may even have you know the same problem that we have currently and then those people aren’t even going to be USDA certified,” Dr. Layton said.
Right now, no pet stores in the city of St. Petersburg violate the proposed ordinance, but some county pet stores do. The ordinance is set to go in front of the full council soon. 
“We’re going to have to wait and see when we see the final version of it and how it will go into effect,” Brightwell said.
Bones is a 6-year-old hound and he's up for adoption at the Pinellas County Animal Services.