Commissioners decide not to ban retail pet sales in Manatee County

Published: Nov. 1, 2019 at 1:05 PM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - Manatee County commissioners spent hours Thursday listening to people on both sides about a possible ban on the retail sale of pets, something that has been a topic in Manatee County for months, if not years.

Six months ago, county commissioners asked the county's attorney's office to research possible options for an ordinance that would restrict the retail sales of puppies and kittens.

A similar ordinance was passed three years ago in Sarasota County and went into effect July 1st. Afterwards, Petland, a store that’s been accused by activists of buying animals from so-called puppy mills, shut down in Sarasota and moved to Bradenton.

Thursday the options were presented to commissioners in Manatee County and the chambers were packed with people in support of and against a ban.

The three options given included:

  • Banning retail sales of pets like Sarasota, DeSsoto and three other Florida counties
  • A ban that includes a grandfather clause which stops any new stores from opening and selling pets but it will allow existing stores to continue retail sales of pets
  • And regulating retail pet sales and focusing on making sure all pets up for sale are vaccinated

It was clear most of the people at Thursday's meeting wanted one thing: a total ban. But the owner of Petland in Bradenton said a ban will only hurt the county.

"All it's going to do is push people to the internet. Push people to unregulated sources and we're going to make a bigger problem for our residents giving them no protections with the protections we have already."

After a long public meeting, county commissioners decided not to issue a ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs. Instead, they are moving toward taking the issue to a federal level.

Commissioners argue a ban wouldn’t end the problem of puppy mills and retail stores would only move to a different county.

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