Florida bill would reverse local pet sale bans, Cape Coral business supports it

A new Florida bill is worrying animal lovers statewide. It would overturn local ordinances that ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores, including one in Southwest Florida.

We spoke to Shane Reinhardt, the owner of Patriot Pets and Supplies in Cape Coral, who is surprised by proposed legislation that could help his business.

Reinhardt is currently the only pet store owner allowed to sell cats and dogs in the city. Cape Coral City Council let Reinhardt’s business continue usual practices, but it also voted unanimously last fall to stop the sale of cats and dogs in the city.

“When the ordinance passed here regarding cats and dogs, we were the only ones affected by that ordinance,” Reinhardt said. “Didn’t affect Petland, didn’t affect anybody else. It was just us.”

The new bill would reverse local regulations on pet sales if it is passed into law.

“To see something that can kind of help small businesses in this industry, it’s kind of nice and refreshing,” Reinhardt said.

State Rep. Bryan Avila out of Miami-Dade introduced HB 1237: Pet Stores last month. A majority of it focuses on pet store regulations. It includes requiring stores to be licensed and authorizes the Department of Business and Professional Regulation contract with veterinarians for inspections. But it also says it preempts any local ordinance or regulation that prohibits or regulates pet stores.

“So we feel that we stand by the fact that we do not want animals sold in a retail environment,” said Liz McCauley, the executive director of Cape Coral Animal Shelter. “We just don’t feel that this legislation, although it looks good on the surface, and it looks like it’s protecting them in the stores, we’re concerned about those puppies beforehand and the breeder dogs and the puppy mills.”

McCauley stands by the city’s pet sales ordinance and will fight this proposal along with the Humane Society, which said there are 70 local ordinances across the state to stop the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. It called the proposed house bill and a similar one in the Florida Senate dangerous.

The bill remains under committee review.

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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