In Pet Store Bans
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Are Orange County leaders being led by the nose by animal rights activists to push through an anti-pet agenda? Two outspoken leaders have made their opinion on the subject very clear during a recent meeting.


Commissioner Bonilla is proposing an ordinance that would ban the sale of puppies and kittens from retailers, telling her personal story of purchasing a pet with health problems from a local pet store. County Commissioner Wilson added “It’s about protecting consumers, protecting residents and protecting the animals that don’t have a voice here at all today”. But does banning the retail sale of puppies and kittens really support the best interests of the public?


Advocates for such bans claim that it will stop sick pets from coming out of retail stores and protect consumers from heartbreak and the financial burden of caring for a newly purchased pet that falls ill. But Florida has a strict and comprehensive pet lemon law that PROTECTS consumers with sick pets. A pet lemon law that ONLY protects consumers who purchase pets from retailers. Consumers that adopt sick pets from shelters, rescues, or buy directly from local or internet sellers have no protections at all in the event there is a problem. This ordinance will actually HURT consumers by removing the only protections they have when purchasing a pet.


We’ve all heard the rhetoric from the animal rights groups about pet stores and sick puppies and puppy mills. But what do these bans actually accomplish other than putting a legal, licensed, and inspected business and its employees out of business, leaving consumers with no other option other than to obtain their pets with no consumer protections in case there is a problem. Florida offers one of the best pet lemon laws in the country and we should support it by embracing the public’s freedom of choice.


Buying directly from an online seller, sometimes referred to as a “backyard breeder” doesn’t guarantee consumer protections as stringent as pet retailers offer. In fact, many online sellers offer little more than a 3 day guarantee that requires the puppy owner to bring their new puppy to a licensed veterinarian for an exam and then return it for a refund if there is a problem. Many illnesses don’t manifest in such a short timeframe, and new puppy owners are reluctant to return a puppy that they have fallen in love with, and even less likely to ship it back like an unwanted Amazon package, forcing them to take on the financial and emotional burden of treating the puppy themselves because they don’t have the protections of the Florida Pet Lemon Law.


Many of the Orange County pet stores are family run, employ dozens of local residents, have been in business for many years, and have thousands of satisfied customers. A quick scan of Google reviews shows that many of these pet stores enjoy 4- 4.6 stars of customer satisfaction with thousands of reviewers. When compared to the consumer satisfaction of the 4.4 star reviews of the two local county shelters, which also share some poor ratings from reviewers for sending home sick animals, why is the County attempting to penalize one source of pets while ignoring the complete lack of regulations and consumer protections for another?


If Commissioners like Bonilla and Wilson truly want to protect the public and provide better care for the pets available for sale and adoption in the county, shouldn’t there be equal regulations for both for-profit and non-profit businesses as well as those “backyard breeders”? Why should voters who choose to adopt rather than purchase be less protected and more vulnerable to financial hardship? And why should those voters that choose to purchase from a pet retailer be denied the opportunity due to a ban on pet retailers in favor of adoption, which may not be the right choice for everyone.

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