City leaders want to ban sale of dogs that come from mills

Issue was up for debate Thursday in Miami

MIAMI – City leaders in Miami voted 4-1 on Thursday to ban the sale of dogs that come from mills.

The vote was not considered an outright win by supporters because it still allows for the sale of puppies from "hobby breeders" licensed by Miami-Dade County Animal Services. 

Supporters are concerned that there will be no way to track those animals and that enforcement will be impossible. 

During the debate, heartbreaking videos played among public comments.

"All the puppies languishing in deplorable conditions in barren, tiny, filthy cages," Miami resident Steven Bagenski said.

There was a show of support for Miami to join other cities that have banned retail pet stores from selling puppies from mass breeders, also known as "puppy mills."

"This is not only a humane issue, but also a consumer protection issue," said Wendy Kaplan, of the Best Friends Animal Society.

"I implore you to stand for those who have no voice and end this cycle of abuse and cruelty," Bagenski said.

There was opposition to it, too, mostly from pet store operators, but outside city limits.

"We don't send puppies home for money, send them because we love puppies. Everyone who works here loves the animals," pet store employee Stefani Victor said.

"I've worked for Pet land PP for 10 years," Stephanie Bechtler said. "I know the love and care we give, where they come from, buy from USDA licensed brewers. I believe that what will happen is we will push this market underground.

"Miami is behind on this, and the more loopholes in cities that don't get on board, the more puppies there are to sell, so we have to do our part," Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said.

Though some 30 shops in the city of Miami are licensed to sell pets, only one actually does. The door is locked at Puppies to Go. A sign says they are in the back -- to call, but there is no answer.

Puppy breeders are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which earlier this year removed its records from its publicly accessible website.

"We think that the state and county would have the resources, should have inspectors checking and vetting all the puppies," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said.

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