By: Dominic Bertolami
Monday, Roseville became the first city in Minnesota to ban the commercial sale of dogs and cats at pet stores.
The city council began discussions to prohibit sales last year after Har Mar Pet Shop, the only store in the city that sells dogs and cats, received a troubling inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The City Pages newspaper reported on the inspection in June and sparked a citizen-led movement to end the practice citywide. Other pet stores in town, Petco and Chuck & Don’s, sell supplies but don’t sell dogs and cats. They do, however, host adoption events with area shelters.
“This is in fitting with Roseville’s values, and current conditions are not,” Council Member Lisa Laliberte said shortly before the vote to ban dog and cat sales.
The council voted unanimously favoring the ordinance, which takes effect in six months. The practice of selling dogs and cats in pet stores has been criticized by animal-rights advocates, who say keeping the animals in store cages is bad for their health, and selling them encourages unscrupulous “puppy mill” operations. It’s also a consumer-rights issue, they argue, because such animals often incur high veterinary costs.
Dogs at a 'Puppy Mill'.
“People who testified said in most pet stores animals do not come from reputable breeders. The Humane Society of the United States surveyed American Kennel Club breed clubs and found 97 percent have issued statements or guidelines against the sale of dogs in pet stores,” said Christine Coughlin, the organization’s Minnesota director.
“Most quality breeders sell directly to families,” she said, “so they can be sure their dogs are well cared for. We know responsible breeders don’t sell to pet stores,” Coughlin said. “They want to make sure it’s a good fit.” Coughlin said cities around the country are adopting similar ordinances, but she believes Roseville is the first city in Minnesota to do so.
Steve Olson of Roseville said he bought a Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy from Har Mar Pet Shop in January and has been dealing with expensive veterinarian bills ever since. The dog was presented as a healthy pup of AKC-registered parents but it has been battling health issues ever since it came home. He did some research on the breeder and discovered his dog’s parents were not registered after all, and the breeder had blots on its record in other states.
“We feel like we rescued a dog, but we also feel like we supported a terrible industry,” Olson said.