The revamped Manatee County Fee final week voted to finish a ban on the retail sale of cats and canine, dismantling a coverage determination set by earlier board members.
Following years of debate on the emotional topic of alleged pet mills and animal abuse, county officers voted in August 2021 to ban the sale of sure pets in Manatee County. Supporters of the transfer mentioned the regulation would defend animals bought by business breeders.
However throughout Tuesday’s public assembly, the Manatee Board of County Commissioners, which is now made up of seven conservative Republicans, put an finish to that coverage. They argued that the regulation would trigger harm to native companies whereas not going far sufficient to guard animals.
Commissioner Mike Rahn, who first voiced help for the reversal in January, mentioned he couldn’t help any proposal threatening to close down a “legally working enterprise.”
“This is a matter of not pet mills or no matter,” mentioned Rahn. “This is a matter of permitting two companies to function in Manatee County which have operated for a while … and in the event that they had been doing one thing mistaken or mistaken, the market would have shut them down. The market didn’t shut them down.”
Of the $128,000 Rahn raised in his 2022 marketing campaign for the District 4 seat on the Manatee County Fee, $2,000 got here from Petland homeowners, who’ve adamantly opposed the regulation.
Ban threatened Petland enterprise mannequin
“We rigorously vet our trade breeders to make sure they’re following the (United States Division of Agriculture) rules and solely work with licensed breeders,” mentioned Samir Sutaria, an proprietor of 1 native Petland retailer. “If there are violations within the final two years, we refuse to work with these breeders.”
In 2021, Petland filed a lawsuit towards the Manatee County Authorities, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional. In response to court docket data, Petland makes 70% of its income from the sale of kittens and puppies.
“With out the flexibility to promote puppies and kittens, the Petland shops could be unable to fulfill working bills and would stop operations,” the corporate wrote in its lawsuit.
On Tuesday, board members mentioned they agreed with Petland’s argument.
“Banning pet mills is a really laudable aim. All of us love cats and canine. All of us love our pets,” mentioned Commissioner Amanda Ballard. “Sadly, this ordinance does not obtain that aim that it purports to attain.”
“It is a feel-good kind of ordinance. It does not do what we wish it to do,” she continued.
Regardless of pleas from a number of animal activists, the board voted 5-1 to repeat the beforehand accredited ordinance. Commissioner George Kruse solid the one vote towards the choice.
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh didn’t attend Tuesday’s assembly.
Animal advocates push again on ban reversals
“It is a merciless and grasping trade,” mentioned Laura Weiss, a Manatee County resident. “Animals are being trafficked.”
“With any enterprise, we have to transfer with the occasions,” added Holly Barbour, of Sarasota. “No person needs to close Petland down. No person needs to close down a pet retailer enterprise.”
Whereas she served on the board for 16 years, former County Commissioner Carol Whitmore made it a private mission to have manatees turn into one in all a number of Florida counties which have banned the retail sale of cats and canine.
“To me, this fee helps pet mills. That is roughly what they informed residents just a few days in the past,” Whitmore mentioned in an interview with the Bradenton Herald. “We simply took a significant step backwards. Disgrace on them.”
Kruse, who voted alongside Whitmore in favor of the ban, criticized his fellow commissioners for reversing the course. He argued that the ban on cat and canine gross sales made Manatee County a pacesetter within the state, which can have ultimately led to the brand new state or federal legal guidelines that efficiently cracked down on inhumane business breeders.
“The native authorities is aware of what’s in the very best curiosity of native residents in native communities,” argued Kruse.
What did a choose say about pet sale tires?
Manatee County’s determination to finish the ban comes on the heels of a victory on the Manatee County courthouse. In August, Decide Edward Nicholas declined Petland’s request to place the pet ban on maintain.
After listening to arguments within the case, Nicholas sided with the Manatee County Authorities. Nonetheless, the 20-year circuit court docket choose expressed skepticism on the county’s justification for the pet sale of tires, arguing that the board had little proof to counsel that Petland sources its animals from pet mills.
“The Courtroom feels compelled to notice that it’s involved that the Manatee County ordinance enactment seems to have largely been pushed by emotion, slightly than an precise evaluation of the promoting practices of the shops within the county,” Nicholas wrote.
Petland appealed the choose’s determination, however the county confronted a Feb. 13 deadlines to submit an argument towards the attraction. County Lawyer Invoice Clague warned board members that the appeals course of could be pricey and well timed.
this story was initially revealed February 6, 2023 1:07 PM.