Dallas City Council Considering Ordinance to Ban Puppy Sales in Pet Stores

When Bill Allen first met the puppy, he knew something was wrong.

“The poor little dog never stood a chance,” said the 71-year-old Richardson resident.

Allen said his son, a disabled veteran, bought a Cane Corso from Dallas Petland and named it Blue. But to Allen, the puppy looked emaciated, so his son took him to the family vet.

Soon Blue was suffering from seizures and undergoing various treatments, Allen said. After only having him with them for a little over three weeks, they made the terrible decision to have Blue put to sleep.

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“It will bring a tear to your eye,” said Allen. “In fact, it’s hard not to be emotional when you talk about it, you know? … It’s traumatizing. ”

Last week, Dallas took a step closer to banning puppies and kittens from pet stores, a move that proponents say would protect puppies and consumers alike. However, some pet store owners say it could also spell the end of their business.

The proposed ordinance would prevent hundreds of sick pets from being moved from puppy factories outside of the state, said Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN). Switching to a humane pet shop model would mean puppies and kittens can only be adopted from stores, not sold.

In some cases, these animals are carted more than a thousand miles without adequate air conditioning and heating, according to a presentation Bobosky gave to the Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee on Monday. There have also been reports of cages filled with feces and urine, and dehydrated, sick, or even dead puppies.

The ordinance “takes the cruelty of the puppy mills out of the equation and stops the puppy mill pipeline to Dallas,” she told the Observer.

In the 13 years that Petland has been open in Dallas, it has helped bond thousands of kittens and puppies with loving families, a Petland spokesperson said via email. Sick puppies are “very, very rare” and the store only works with breeders who have a high standard.

“It’s traumatizing.” – Bill Allen

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Petland supports the goal of abolishing puppy factories, the spokesman continued. Still, the proposed ordinance “will not achieve the stated goal of putting puppy factories out of business, but it will put an honest, upright small business in Dallas out of business.”

Bobosky notes that out of 33 Dallas pet stores, only Petland sells puppies and kittens.

Plus, pet stores don’t have to sell puppies to make a profit, said Lauren Loney, Texas director for the Humane Society of the United States. On Monday, she informed the council committee that only one of the 25 largest pet dealers on the North American continent is still offering puppies for sale.

Nine Texas cities have similar ordinances, including Fort Worth, The Colony, and San Antonio, among others.

“It is clear that industry best practices and acceptable standards have moved away from this inhuman and deceptive business practice,” said Loney, “and that this ordinance would serve to bring puppy-selling pet stores to dozens of other pet stores in Dallas to bring in harmony already now do not sell puppies. ”

Certain customers may be able to buy the dog outright, but others get stuck on a loan, Bobosky added. They might think they sign up to pay a certain amount each month, but hidden fees and high interest rates could push the grand total.

In addition to protecting dogs, the proposed regulation would save customers from getting trapped in a fraudulent financial commitment, Bobosky said. As a Dallas attorney, she represents consumers who have confusing pet store deals with Petland.

Bobosky knows of others who bought a Petland puppy just to get him sick. Then they have to pay off their loan on top of the sky-high veterinary bills.

Allen said his son signed a complex deal to buy Blue. It took Petland more than a month to get some money back with the family, but the store’s attorney had Allen’s wife and son sign a nondisclosure agreement, he said.

Petland also refused to cover the $ 2,000 they had amassed in veterinary expenses, Allen added.

Sometime after Blue’s death, Allen and his wife bought their son a Cane Corso from a responsible breeder, he said. Although they were the same age, the new dog was about three times as big and twice as heavy as Blue.

People pay big bucks for these cute puppies and bond with them quickly, Allen added. He hopes the city will pass the ordinance to make puppy mills – where he suspects Blue was born – a thing of the past.