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Council bans new pet stores from selling unaltered dogs and cats

Council bans new pet stores from selling unaltered dogs and cats

Pet avenue owner Micheal Machado handles a puppy on Friday.


POSTED May 29, 2010 12:01 a.m.
The Turlock City Council passed an ordinance on Tuesday that prohibits new pet stores from selling unaltered cats and dogs. The ordinance was added to the municipal code restrictions already in place that require breeders to purchase a certificate and limit each adult animal to only one litter a year.
Turlock Police Capt. Rob Jackson presented the staff report to council members regarding the retail sale of cats and dogs.
“The sale of unaltered dogs and cats in pet stores is a direct conflict with our efforts at the Turlock Animal Shelter,” Jackson said.
One concern that staff had was that unaltered animals would further add to the overpopulation of domestic cats and dogs in Turlock city limits. Another concern was that store owners were not required to give new pet owner information, and little follow up was done to insure that animals sold at pet shops received vaccinations and proper licenses. All animals adopted from Turlock and Stanislaus County animal shelters are spayed or neutered, and new owner information is kept on file.
Glenna Jackson, animal services officer, said that her main concern with puppies and kittens sold at pet stores was that the animals were not spayed or neutered. She said that the Turlock animal shelter already receives an overwhelming number of animals from owners who can no longer care from them. Some have been sent as far away as Washington and Nevada to find new homes, because there are not enough adopters in Turlock.
“You have to stop the flood somewhere,” Glenna Jackson said.
Council member Ted Howze was in favor of the new restriction on pet stores. He said that as a veterinarian, he has received several complaints in the past about the animals sold in local pet shops. He was also concerned that any future pet stores would get their animals from puppy mills.
“This ordinance is almost identical to the ones being adopted by most of the state of California,” Howze said.
Although this ordinance prevents the retail sale of unaltered cats and dogs, it still allows for the adoption of altered cats and dogs from shelters and rescue groups at pet store locations. It also excludes pet stores that already have business licenses in Turlock.
Michael Machado, owner of Pet Avenue, disagrees with the new ordinance. Pet Avenue, which opened in April, is the only pet store in town that currently sells puppies. Although his business will not be affected by the ordinance, Machado said that it would hurt future business in Turlock.
“Passing an ordinance of this nature inhibits the future growth of the community,” Machado said at Tuesday's meeting.
Machado and Darrell Borges, another owner of Pet Avenue, breed most of the puppies sold in their store. The rest, says Machado, are bred by family or friends. They are all bred locally in the Central Valley by breeders who follow state and local restrictions. Machado said he also follows humane breeding practices, and his female dogs only produce one litter a year each.
Machado said that because Pet Avenue is a retail store it is subject to even more restrictions than individual breeders who also sell puppies. Each dog has a one year health guarantee against birth defects. The dogs are also inspected every 15 days by a licensed veterinarian.
After the ordinance was passed on Tuesday, the four owners of Pet Avenue decided to put a few new policies in place. They plan to sponsor a “pet of the week” from a local shelter or rescue. The person who adopts that pet will receive a certificate for store credit to purchase new items for the animal. They are also implementing a new program to encourage pet owners to spay and neuter puppies they buy from Pet Avenue.
Machado said that most people who are willing to spend between $500 and $1,000 on an animal are not likely to leave it at a shelter. However, the store does have a return policy for owners who can no longer care for any animal they bought at Pet Avenue.
“We just don't want to see our animals end up in shelters,” Machado said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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