Orange County residents love dogs. A lot. It is clear from the sheer number of neighborhood dog parks, dog friendly restaurants, dog groomers, boarding facilities, and the more than half dozen pet stores that sell puppies, Orange County residents spend a lot of time buying and caring for their pets. So why do Orange County Commissioners Bonilla and Wilson want to remove the ability for residents to buy a puppy or kitten from area pet stores?
Bonilla and Wilson claimed at that March 23rd meeting that they want to protect consumers, but their initiative to ban retail stores will have no effect on substandard breeders, often referred to as mills, and will only help Orange County consumers become more frequent victims of these substandard breeders when they take away the opportunity to purchase a pet locally from a pet store that offers the consumer the chance to see the prospective pet in person and bond with it before making a decision to bring it home, something that the Better Business Bureau states on it’s website is an important factor to avoid becoming a victim to an online pet scam. Mayor Demings and some of the other Commissioners made it clear at their March 23rd meeting that banning legal businesses is a concern for them, and it should be. Orange County pet stores are required to provide puppy purchasers with a health certification signed by a licensed veterinarian showing that the puppy is healthy and up to date with vaccinations and parasite control. In addition, pet stores are required to follow Florida’s Pet Lemon Law, one of the toughest in the nation, which offers strict protections for consumers should their new puppy be diagnosed with an illness.
Breeders with more than four breeding females that sell to retail pet stores are required to be licensed and inspected annually, with strict regulations regarding housing, veterinary care, exercise, and record keeping. With the ease and far reach of internet usage, these large substandard breeders have figured out a way around those demanding requirements, by giving up their federal licenses so they can sell directly to the public via the internet. With no pesky regulations and inspections to worry about, these substandard breeders have flourished, at the peril of the dogs in their care, making more money than ever, scamming the unsuspecting public with no consumer protections or recourse if they adopt a sick puppy. The public has become so accustomed to making purchases online, that the idea of purchasing a pet with just a click of a button doesn’t seem that unusual. But the sheer number of online pet scams rising each year according to both the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission by internet sellers shows that retail bans simply don’t work. It has created more of an underground, unregulated market for these substandard mills and scammers from around the world and without the ability to find the right breed of puppy for their lifestyle locally and in person, the public will be forced to the internet to find a puppy of their choosing, putting them more at risk for heartbreak.
Follow the science: Cornell University of Medicine completed a study which states; Based on the health of puppies from various sources demonstrates, on average, pet store puppies are as healthy as, or healthier than, those from any other source. The American Veterinary Medical Association states; the prevalence of serious disease among puppies did not differ between pet stores and other sources. In fact, according to the Journal of Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 52% of dogs and cats from shelters reported health problems 1 week after adoption.