Fayetteville bans the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores

Justine Lentz, the city’s Animal Welfare Officer, speaks at the City Council agenda meeting on July 12, 2022. (Fayetteville Government Channel)

A new Fayetteville law aims to ensure the city doesn’t facilitate the sale of animals raised in large, commercial breeding facilities.

City council members on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a proposal that would ban the retail sale of dogs and cats unless they are first sourced by and in cooperation with the city’s animal shelter or other animal rescue organization.

While there are currently no pet stores in Fayetteville that sell dogs or cats, city officials said the goal is to prevent future businesses from selling pets that could be raised in inhumane conditions.

Fayetteville’s two largest pet stores — Petco and Petsmart — have corporate mandates against the sale of dogs and cats. And while people can sometimes adopt animals from these stores, the pets are made available in partnership with local animal shelters or animal welfare organizations.

Justine Lentz, the city’s animal welfare officer, said the idea of ​​a ban was first discussed by the city’s animal services advisory committee after a Petland pet store accused of selling puppies from large breeders opened a new location in Rogers 2019

Since the store opened, Lentz said it has been linked to backlash from customers who said they bought sick puppies with a variety of health conditions, from severe worms to parvo.

Lentz told the council she wanted to act quickly after recently hearing about a new Petland deal coming to town.

“We got wind that someone might be thinking about opening a house like this here, and we wanted to anticipate that,” said Lentz.

A sign for a new Petland store was recently installed at 637 E. Joyce Blvd. next to Newk’s Eatery in north Fayetteville, and a crew was seen Tuesday cleaning and preparing the new space.

A team prepares to open a new Petland store at 637 E. Joyce Blvd. next to Newk’s Eatery in north Fayetteville. (Photo by Sarah Gil)

Lentz told the council her department saw several animals coming through the shelter that were raised in large facilities — often referred to as puppy mills — where animal health is often disregarded in order to keep overhead costs down and maximize profits.

“If you’re unfamiliar with a puppy mill, consider yourself lucky,” Lentz said. “The conditions that you find there are mostly pretty pathetic.”

Animals raised in these conditions, she said, often have health problems and an innate fear of humans because they’re usually treated like livestock.

Lentz said the Animal Services Committee researched and debated the proposal and ultimately voted to recommend that the council introduce a ban on retail sales of dogs and cats. She said in the board’s research, the group found no bans in Arkansas, but found similar laws in more than 300 cities in 26 states across the country, including a new law passed in Dallas, Texas, in May.

“We’re not pioneering here, but I think we’re definitely leading by example,” said Lentz.

The new law will not affect small, non-retail growers in the city.

“If you breed on a very small operation, like maybe you have a couple of dogs and want to breed them in your yard and be responsible for that, the city is fine with that,” Lentz said.

During the public comment, several local residents spoke out in favor of the proposal. One couple who spoke said they had a great experience with a puppy they bought from Petland.

Karen Barker, a representative for Petland Inc., said the parent company is doing its best to ensure the puppies sold in its franchises get plenty of human interaction before the sale.

“We have procedures and protocols in place,” Barker said. “We always focus on the one priority, which is the health and happiness of the puppies while they are in the store.”

Barker said that in order for a breeder to sell a puppy to a pet store, it must be licensed and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“I’ve visited hundreds of our breeders, all of whom are USDA licensed,” Barker said.

Samantha Boyle, who owns a Petland franchise with stores in Joplin, Missouri and Rogers, said she hopes to open the new Fayetteville store soon.

Boyle said the claims about her Rogers store were unfounded. She said she knew for a fact that none of the breeders she had ever worked with would be considered puppy mills.

“A lot of the breeders we use are families like you,” she told the council.

Ryan and Samantha Boyle, owners of a local Petland franchise, address the July 19, 2022 City Council meeting. (Fayetteville Government Channel)

Steve Clark, president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, said the council could be overstepping its bounds by trying to regulate what can be sold simply because it doesn’t like how the product is being sold.

City Attorney Kit Williams said this isn’t the first time the council has issued regulations for the sale of dogs or cats. He said the city used to allow pets to be sold in parking lots, but that’s no longer the case.

Clark said he was also disheartened to hear that the new Petland store in Fayetteville has gone through all the processes needed to open and is now facing possible new regulation.

Councilor Teresa Turk asked if the ordinance could be held for a few weeks to give Petland owners some time to speak with the city’s Animal Services Department about their specific practices and protocols.

Councilor Sloan Scroggin said whatever decision is made should be independent of the new Petland deal.

“I feel like this can’t be about Petland,” Scroggin said. “It has to be about whether or not we want to ban a certain type of business.”

Councilor Mark Kinion agreed, saying that while local Petland franchise owners could run a clean shop, that didn’t mean other shops wouldn’t act in ways that would facilitate large-scale growers.

Councilor Holly Hertzberg, who co-sponsored the measure with Councilor Sarah Bunch, said she was ready to make a decision immediately.

“For me, it has nothing to do with any particular business,” Hertzberg said. “This is about taking care of animals.”

Hertzberg moved that the ordinance be sent to the third and final reading, and Bunch complied. This motion passed 5-2, with Scroggin and Turk voting against.

In the final decision, the council voted 8-0 to approve the measure.

Tuesday’s proposal came with an accompanying emergency clause motion that would have put the new law into effect immediately, instead of the usual 30-day delay, but the motion fell through after Kinion, Turk and councilman Mike Wiederkehr voted against it. An emergency clause requires a supermajority to pass.

Before the vote, Mayor Lioneld Jordan said if it had ended in a tie, he would have voted in support of the proposal.

“I believe that this type of regulation needs to be in place, not because of any particular business, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Jordan said.


Below is the full text of the regulation (download PDF):

AMENDMENT TO §92.04 SALE OF SICK ANIMALS; REGULATIONS FOR KENNELS AND PET SHOPS:

AN ORDER AMENDING SECTION 92.04 SALE OF SICK ANIMALS; REGULATION FOR KENNELS AND PET SHOPS PROHIBIT THE RETAIL SALES OF DOGS, CATS, PUPPIES AND KITTENS UNLESS THEY HAVE BEEN RECEIVED BY FAYETTEVILLE ANIMAL WELFARE OR IN COOPERATION WITH THE FAYETTEVILLE ANIMAL WELFARE OR OTHER ANIMAL RESCUE ORGANIZATION AND DECLARE AN EMERGENCY

WHATEVER, the City of Fayetteville has an interest in maintaining the public safety and welfare of the citizens and residents of Fayetteville and its visitors; and

WHATEVER, Ark. Code Ann. § 14-54-103(7) provides that cities shall have the power to prevent animal cruelty; and

WHATEVER, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are at least 10,000 puppy factories in the United States, fewer than 3,000 of which are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture; and

WHATEVER, according to the Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills are high-volume dog breeding operations that produce puppies for profit and ignore the needs of the puppies and their mothers; and

WHATEVER, according to the Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills commonly sell through retail pet stores, and the majority of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills; and

WHATEVER, current state and federal regulations do not adequately address the sale of puppy and kitten mill dogs and cats in retail pet stores; and

WHATEVER, Petco and Petsmart, the city’s largest pet supply stores, have corporate mandates against the sale of dogs and cats and both work with local animal rescues and shelters to facilitate pet adoptions by these organizations in their business locations; and

WHATEVERIt is in the City of Fayetteville’s interest to promote and ensure humane approaches and standards to animal husbandry and ownership by encouraging the adoption of rescue dogs and cats.

THEREFORE IT IS NOW DECREED BY THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS:

Part 1: That the City Council for the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas hereby amends Section 92.04 by issuing a new subsection (C) as shown below:

“(C) It is unlawful for a pet store to offer for sale or display a dog, cat, pup or kitten not purchased from and in association with Fayetteville Animal Shelter, a government or non-profit animal shelter authorized by Fayetteville Animal became Services or a non-profit animal rescue organization approved by Fayetteville Animal Services. Any pet store offering dogs, cats, puppies or kittens for sale or displaying them must place a label on the animal’s cage with the name and address of the organization supplying the animal.”

section 2: That the City Council for the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, hereby determines that this ordinance shall take effect immediately because it will help discourage the sale of sick animals from puppy mills and other commercial breeding facilities where the health of the animals being bred is compromised disregards what is necessary for the public peace and the health and safety of Fayetteville residents. Therefore, the City Council hereby declares a state of emergency so that this ordinance will come into effect immediately upon its passage and approval.


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