Carmel Councilman Adam Aasen wants to ban the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores in the city despite no businesses currently doing so.
It’s a proactive effort to ensure businesses that sell cats and dogs from puppy mills cannot do so in Carmel’s city limits, Aasen said.
“With this action, we won’t be affecting any businesses in Carmel,” Aasen said. “That’s not a preferable situation, to have to shut a business down. In Carmel, we always try to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Amendments to an existing city ordinance, sponsored by Aasen, are up for an initial reading before the Carmel City Council at its public meeting Monday. It will likely be sent to one of the city council’s committees for further review following Monday’s meeting.
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Aasen said Carmel’s existing ordinance already prohibits puppy mills in Carmel as well as prohibits pet stores from sourcing animals from puppy mills. The amendments Aasen has proposed for the ordinance would make enforcement easier for the city.
The amendments to the ordinance still allow “responsible, licensed breeders” to sell animals to consumers in Carmel, Aasen said. It also allows pet stores to continue partnering with animal rescue organizations to show adoptable cats and dogs.
“This is not trying to stop breeding in Carmel. We haven’t gotten a single complaint from breeders since we toughened the ordinance a few years ago,” Aasen said.
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“If you’re a breeder and doing things responsibly, nobody is going to be calling the police or code enforcement on you.”
In 2021, Illinois banned the sale of cats and dogs from breeders at pet stores.
As a result, Indiana in the last year has seen openings of new pet stores that sell cats and dogs, said Samantha Morton, the Indiana director for the Humane Society of the United States.
Morton said the Humane Society is encouraged by communities around Indiana, like Carmel, that are taking a proactive approach to banning the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores.
“Where you live in a city, you don’t necessarily have control over where that puppy mill is operating because a lot of times these puppy mills are located in rural areas, either within Indiana or Iowa or Missouri,” Morton said.
“But communities have control over what they allow in their communities and the businesses that would sell these types of animals. These communities have a choice and impact in making a humane decision in moving forward with an ordinance like this.”
Additionally, Morton said the concern over the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores is not just an animal welfare, but a consumer protection issue.
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“A lot of times these people are buying really expensive dogs and these pet stores that often will get a sick puppy where they’re kind of forced to not only if they finance it, but also if the dog is sick, they have to take it to the vet and herd those kinds of costs,” Morton said.
But Jennifer Clark, director of legislative outreach for the American Kennel Club, said in an email to IndyStar that the retail sales bans can “exacerbate” the problem of bad breeders and sellers.
“The most effective way to shut down irresponsible breeders, rescues or pet sellers is to stop them from making money from the sale or transfer of unhealthy pets,” Clark wrote. “Retail bans remove the choice to obtain a puppy from a regulated, licensed pet store that provides consumer protections and health history of the pet. In many cases, bans then push future pet owners to the internet where sick puppies and scams are common.”
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In addition, retail bans can have an impact on legitimate breed rescue, Clark wrote.
“As written, this proposal would not just limit stores to sourcing from shelters and rescues. It would go further to only allow them to source from rescues with no affiliations with breeders,” Clark wrote. “This could have a significant impact on legitimate breed rescue efforts.”
Carmel City Council meets Monday at 6 pm at Carmel City Hall, 1 Civic Square.
Contact IndyStar’s Carmel and Westfield reporter Brittany Carloni at email@example.com or 317-779-4468. Follow her on Twitter @CarloniBrittany.