Vista passes pet store ordinance

VISTA — Closer than some thought, the city council passed an ordinance to ban retail pet stores from selling commercial bred dogs and cats Tuesday during its regular monthly meeting.

The 3-2 approval appeared to hinge on the swing vote of Deputy Mayor John Aguilera, who said he was swayed by the numerous residents who spoke during the past two meetings and others voicing concerns throughout the last month.

Joining Aguilera in passing the new law were Mayor Judy Ritter and councilman Cody Campbell, who introduced the legislation during the Aug. 25 meeting.

The ban goes into effect in one month, but does allow for stores to sell rescue and shelter animals. It was a proactive move as Vista currently has five pet stores, though none sell dogs or cats.

“I am pleased it passed,” Campbell said. “We are in good company with other cities and joining the effort to stop sales in conditions that are not accepted.”

Dissenting in the vote were council members John Franklin and Amanda Rigby, although the two made it clear they did not support puppy mill dogs and cats supplied to such retail outlets or the treatment of those animals.

Franklin added he wants less government interference, sticking to his political ideology.

Franklin said he did not agree with “adding layers of regulations on regulations,” punishing the “good actors” in the breeding of canines and felines and would further burden low-income families from being able to purchase a dog or cat. He and Rigby also said banning a business that is not current operating in the city sends the wrong message.

“I don’t agree with adding layers of regulations in banning a business that doesn’t exist in our city,” Franklin said.

Aguilera and Campbell, however, disagreed with Franklin’s assertions and said the city must be proactive against retail stores who purchase animals from mills.

“I don’t see how we are banning people from pets,” Aguilera said. “After hearing many, many people speak about this, I have gone to the other side.”

Campbell, meanwhile, referenced the city of Oceanside is facing a continuous problem with a retail store. The business, he said, has resulted in the store “operating illegally.”

“I don’t want that,” Campbell added. “Creating an ordinance after the fact is impossible. This is the correct way to do it.”

Several residents spoke to the council all but one in support of the ban.

Susan Powell and Linda Sabo both told the council of how each bought a dog bred in a puppy mill and each animal suffered a lifetime of illnesses and medical issues.

Sabo, who was a former Humane Society board member, said he dog went to five veterinarians and had both hips replaced due to subpar breeding.

Powell’s pet, meanwhile, suffered from ongoing digestive problems.

Resident Tom Flemming, however, opposed the ban saying the council didn’t need to be “stacking regulation on regulation.”

Other residents commented on the horrors of puppy mill breeding and how it has lead to euthanasia, cruel conditions among other problems.

Vista joins San Diego, Encinitas and Chula Vista as other cities in the county to have bans. San Marcos, which delayed its vote on a ban, had a retail store open thus leading their city council to pass a moratorium, which expires in April.

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