Orange County Pet Sale Ban Survives Court, Legislative Challenges – Orlando Sentinel

Orange County’s ban on the retail sale of pets, which is due to go into effect next month, appears to have survived legislative and legal challenges to block it — until now.

The Florida Pet Protection Act (SB 994), which sought to preempt local laws like the ban passed 4-3 last summer by Orange County commissioners, died at the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee in March.

Another bill, the Local Business Protection Act (SB620), which would allow businesses to sue governments for lost revenue resulting from new local regulations, has passed the Florida legislature, but has not been passed. was not submitted to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Kate MacFall, Florida state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the pending legislation, even if signed into law by the governor, will not affect Orange County‘s impending ban or other ordinances on the books that prohibit the retail sale of puppies and kittens.

Osceola, Lake and Seminole counties have also banned the retail sale of pets.

Orange County Attorney Jeff Newton said the bill awaiting the governor’s signature could not be used by pet stores to sue for damages because the county’s ban predated this, enacted in June 2021 with a delayed effective date to give retailers a year to prepare for the change.

Commissioners voted to enact the ban after fierce debate in marathon meetings in which animal welfare advocates alleged that local retail pet stores are allowing ‘puppy mills’, dog breeding facilities inhumane, high-volume breeding puppies for profit.

The ordinance, which came into force on June 22, prohibits the sale of “any dog, cat or rabbit”. A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per animal, per day.

Some past customers have complained about exorbitant puppy prices and misleading information about a dog’s breed and health.

But shop owners and employees countered the criticism by saying they help customers find furry friends forever.

McFall emailed Orange County commissioners this week, thanking them for the hard-fought ban and sending the council excerpts from “Horrible Hundred 2022,” the humanitarian group’s new list of “breeders and dealers of problem puppies” in the United States.

Citing public records, McFall noted that eight breeders on the list have supplied puppies to local pet stores in the past two years.

Attorney Amber Davis, representing Petland East, Petland South and Breeder’s Pick, in court records a argued that the “vast majority” of the stores’ revenue came from the sale of puppies and kittens, not the sale of food, chew toys and other pet supplies.

She argues that the ban will unlawfully interfere with existing contracts. Davis will argue in front of a judge on Monday that the ban is unconstitutional and will put the stores out of business.

“If the pet ban is enforced, plaintiffs will be rendered seriously unprofitable and forced to close,” Davis wrote. “The plaintiffs have contracts with their landlords, their franchisor and their customers, all of which require the plaintiffs to operate a pet store and sell dogs and cats, as well as certain obligations regarding the sale of those animals.”

Davis argued that state law requires pet dealers to insure the animals they sell, which necessitates a bark sales inventory.

Trevor Elizabeth Davies, who co-owns Petland South Orlando, 3920 S. Semoran Blvd., with her husband Eric of 25 years, said about 73% of the store’s revenue comes from pet sales. “We don’t hope we can survive without puppies,” she said.

Davies said the family-run shop, which has 39 employees, cannot compete head-to-head on the pricing pet supplies with discount giants Walmart, and Amazon, an option sales ban advocates often suggest to stores forced to stop selling puppies.

“We’re not saying there shouldn’t be regulation and we should just do whatever we want,” Davies said. “The way I run my store, if a customer has a problem, I go above and beyond what is required. I help people until things get better.

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Meanwhile, Diane Summers, director of Orange County Animal Services, said she believes the sales ban will survive.

“All municipalities that have enacted similar bans, when challenged, have resisted,” she said. “I hope we are no exception.”

On Wednesday morning, the departmental shelter housed 191 dogs, a population requiring certain animals to be housed three per enclosure.

“I would say we have a pet overpopulation problem in this community, as evidenced by the fact that we regularly house nearly 200 dogs here,” Summers said. “To think that some pet stores are importing pets from the Midwest when we have so many truly amazing dogs here looking for a chance at a home is heartbreaking.”

If the ban continues, only Chews A Puppy in Ocoee will be allowed to sell puppies and kittens in the area.

Ocoee City Commissioners voted in October to opt out of the county ban and created a monopoly for Chews A Puppy.

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