COLORADO SPRINGS — A proposal to ban retail sales of puppies and kittens in Colorado Springs went before city council on Monday. The ordinance is proposed by animal rights activists.
"One that prohibits pet stores from selling commercially raised dogs and cats," said Amy Jesse with the Humane Society of the United States.
Dustin Haworth and his sister Bree Maestas own the two Pet City stores in Colorado Springs. The stores have been run by the family for 50 years. They showed up at city council to counter accusations by animal rights activists. They also say the ordinance would likely put them out of business.
The pet store owners say they do not deal with puppy mills. They also know the public has become more aware of animal rights in recent years. “With increased consumer demands, we have risen our standards in house and those of our breeders,” Haworth said. They say the dog breeders they work with are USDA and AKC inspected and approved.
Animal rights activists say the USDA designation does not prevent puppy mills. They believe ending retail puppy sales is a better way of ending them. Quoting another policymaker Jesse said, "It makes sense to cut off the distribution channel. By eliminating the means for mills to off-load their animals, their demand will be decimated. As the money dries up, Colorado will be closed to their business."
Several city council members questioned whether the ordinance would also target and penalize legitimate businesses. "Why is it appropriate for us to consider it, an ordinance, as opposed to letting it be a cultural and a social issue," said City Council Member David Geislinger.
Council Member Yolanda Avila wanted the city to at least put together a draft ordinance. "As a city it seems like this is the most appropriate place to start making this change. I just can't get over the profit verses animal cruelty."
City council is taking a cautious approach. They put off drafting an ordinance. Instead, the majority asked the two sides to get together with a mediator and find some compromises. If that fails, council will revisit the issue.