An ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet stores was approved Wednesday by the Reno City Council, which noted that most such animals come from commercial-breeding facilities that disregard well-being to maximize profits.
Any existing, legally-established pet store currently selling cats and dogs will have to cease doing so from the date the ordinance is codified, which is expected during the second week of August.
“We’re not telling them to go out of business,” said Angela Fuss, acting city community development director. “They can still sell pet supplies, they can still sell fish, and they can still sell a number of other things related to animals. However, they cannot sell dogs and cats.”
The ordinance excludes home breeders and does not limit pet stores from providing space to animal rescue organizations that adopt out cats and dogs. This is provided that the pet store not have ownership interest in the animals and not receive fees for providing space for the adoption of any of the animals.
Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who chairs the Washoe County Animal Advisory Board, said the city received almost 300 letters of support for the ordinance and many constituents suggested rabbits and ferrets be added to the list. However, council members went with city staff’s recommendation to focus on cats and dogs.
Duerr recommended businesses violating the ordinance be hit with a $500 fine per animal. A second and final reading of the ordinance with more detailed language is expected at the next council meeting, scheduled Aug. 12.
Fuss said only one known business in Reno had been selling cats and dogs and recently closed. A sign on its door tells customers to visit its Sparks location, she said.
According to a report from city staff to council members, cats from “kitten mills” and dogs from “puppy mills” often end up in pet stores. These animals can suffer from health problems because their welfare is overlooked by money-oriented stockbreeders in order to boost sales.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates approximately 10,000 puppy mills produce more than 2 million puppies per year nationwide. Problems with kitten and puppy mills include over-breeding, inbreeding, and minimal veterinary care. Other problems include inadequate food, water and shelter and lack of socialization and exercise.