Orange County Commissioners Approve Pet Store Restrictions

By a 4-to-3 vote, Orange County commissioners approved an order banning pet stores from selling cats, dogs and rabbits.

More than 50 people spoke during the public comment portion at an Orange County commission meeting on Tuesday. Proponents of the restrictions at pet stores and groups such as the Humane Society argue that some animals sold in pet stores are the product of for-profit breeding. Instead, they encourage the adoption of animals from pet shelters.

Pet store revenues are heavily dependent on sales of puppies, kittens and rabbits, so an order banning the sale of these animals could bankrupt a number of places.

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While the puppies played in their pens at Petland in Waterford Lakes, owner Ben Hoofnagle was having a rough day.

“Incredible disappointment, of course. It’s terrible to hear that you have 1 year before your business is virtually closed.”

He said he was forced to close after 17 years because of the commissioners’ decision.

Florida State Humane Society director Kate MacFall called it a victory for consumers and puppies, saying pet stores source from puppy mills and call them inhuman breeding facilities.

“You’ve heard a lot of people who came home with a puppy from a store and ended up with thousands and thousands of dollars in vet bills, or in some cases the puppy died,” MacFall said. , adding that pets can still be adopted. by responsible breeders and animal shelters.

An attorney for the pet stores said they intend to fight the order.

“These small businesses haven’t done anything wrong. They have 100% pristine inspection records from the Orange County Animal Control Office,” said Mike Gonidakis, who represents Citizens for Responsible Pet Ownership.

Hoofnagle said there are around 50 people working in the store, all of whom will lose their jobs once the store closes.

“We’re going to have to talk to our employees, I feel the worst for them. There is so much shock involved.”

The measure comes into force in 2022.

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