SPRINGFIELD — The City Council voted unanimously on Monday to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, saying the new law is needed to protect animals and consumers.
The so-called “puppy mill” ordinance is slated to take effect in 90 days, after receiving strong public support, but also opposition from the operators of The Puppy Place at 1400 Boston Road.
The lead sponsor, Councilor Melvin Edwards, said the ordinance affects existing and future retail pet stores, and grew out of concerns of mistreatment of animals coming from “puppy mills’ to pet stores. The Puppy Shop is not exempt, but will have 90 days “to change its business model,” Edwards said.
The Puppy Shop said it is the only such shop in Springfield, owners said.
Under the ordinance, the shops may provide space for the display of animals available for adoption “only if such animals are displayed and made available for adoption by either: (A) a public animal control agency or shelter or (B) an animal rescue group” under several conditions including sterilization.”
Animal activists spoke in favor of the ordinance and there was a petition signed by hundreds of residents. There was also phone calls, emails and letters for and against the ordinance, Edwards said.
The ordinance is enforced by a $300 fine.
During the meeting, conducted remotely by Zoom, a woman was heard saying “Be prepared for a lawsuit,” and she was removed from the meeting prior to the vote on the ordinance. Her identification was unverified.
Edwards and city lawyer Thomas Moore said the ordinance is legally valid.
Pamela Peebles, the city’s director of animal control, said passage of the ordinance really “helps Springfield to really become progressive and take a step more to being a more humane community.”
It will help stop the pipeline from “puppy mills” to retail pet stores, she said
“Bottom line this is about profit for the retail pet industry,” Peebles said.
Representatives of The Puppy Place defended their treatment and care of animals.
Edwards said the vote on the ordinance will “get the clock started on creating a more safe environment for both the consumer and the animals that exist in the city of Springfield.”