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Ordinance banning sale of dogs and cats OK’d

By Staff | Aug 6, 2019

Cape Coral City Council got a round of applause from the gallery Monday after deciding unanimously to approve an ordinance that would ban the sale of cats and dogs in the city.

However, after seeing the ordinance tank twice last year, it would take a compromise to make the measure palatable for those on the dais.

The amendment to the ordinance would allow pet shops that have had its business license prior to Oct. 1, 2018, to continue to sell pets, while those with business licenses from that date to Monday would have one year to discontinue their sale.

That would allow one shop, Patriot Pets & Supplies on 1242 Pine Island Road, to be grandfathered in.

But it had to feel like a losing cause for the pet shop owners because for nearly two hours animal advocates made their case for the city to pass the ordinance.

Liz McCauley, executive director of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter, showed a disturbing video of dogs in puppy mills being mistreated and locked in cages, while saying that pet shops who work with shelters thrive without needing to sell them.

Others told their stories of the pain they and their animals went through when they got puppy mill dogs and the injuries, sickness and lack of socialization the dogs face while caged.

Shane Reinhardt and his mother, Diana, owners of Patriot Pets & Supplies, pleaded their case, insisting they have tied their hardest not to sell mill pets. However, Michelle Davis of the Humane Society of the United States said reputable breeders do not sell puppies to pet stores, and since they get their animals through a broker, it is likely they are getting them indirectly from mills, she argued.

The Reinhardts got some support from former councilmember Kevin McGrail, who warned that passing the ordinance would open a huge bag of worms, with animal advocate groups soon demanding more and more, such as mandatory spay and neutering at shelters.

“People need to research the full issue. The ordinance quotes stats from the Humane Society which is a lobbying group that runs no shelters,” McGrail said. “This subject is complex and you think you can solve it, but it won’t stop there.”

Those who opposed the ordinance also said the ordinance amounts to government overreach and that it wouldn’t fix the puppy mill problem, but rather send people across the river to get a pet.

The council liked the idea of the compromise, especially Councilmember David Stokes, who was poised to reject the ordinance until the compromise was reached.

“I want to see compromise. We should talk to each other and find common ground, and they did,” Stokes said before council voted 7-0 (including Jessica Cosden, via Skype) in favor to thunderous applause.

Reinhardt said it was a good compromise that will allow him to stay in business, and that he would try to become a better member of society.

“We’re going to try to sell pets and help the shelters adopt their pets while we do things the way we’ve been doing,” Reinhardt said. “We’ve tried to do our best in the past and I guess we’ll have to do better now.”

Davis called it a win-win, with both sides getting something out of it.

“There are some who were not in favor of the grandfather clause. The Humane Society was not in favor. But we have a new ordinance that protects more animals,” Davis said.

JoAnn Elardo called it a big win for the city as supporters packed the house to end the transportation of dogs hundreds of miles away.

“We cracked the bill and that’s what we wanted. This will prevent animals from being sold retail in the future,” Elardo said. “We’re preventing sales of puppy mill dogs.”

City Council also approved the long-awaited zoning and land-use map changes following a second and final pubic hearing. Both were approved unanimously.