CARLSBAD — After nearly two-and-half hours of public comment, the City Council unanimously approved a ban on the purchase of commercially bred pets by retail stores Tuesday.
An overflow crowd packed the council chambers as supporters and opponents of the ban went back and forth voicing their concerns with commercially bred pets and stores such as Carlsbad Pets, the only one in the city to sell from commercial breeders.
The ordinance, however, must be adopted next week before going into effect 30 days later.
Mirroring a similar ordinance in Oceanside, the Carlsbad ordinance will become effective in six months to allow pet stores to make the necessary adjustments.
“There are other pet store models without selling dogs, cats and rabbits,” Councilwoman Lorraine Wood said.
The council approved a measure in 2013, but reversed its decision several weeks later. This time, however, the wave of momentum from residents and others from as far as Pasadena took hold on the council.
Councilman Mark Packard, who voted against the ban in the 2013 reversal, said the information from several experts eventually led to his decision to support the ban.
However, Packard said it was difficult as he does not want to oppose small businesses, but the measure in which the animals are housed, bred and treated was too much to overcome.
“There are two competing values, business rights and animal protection,” he added. “I’ve seen enough evidence to support the protection of animals.”
Councilmen Keith Blackburn and Michael Schumacher met with parties from both sides and said they must do what they can to protect animals.
Blackburn said he disagreed with the free enterprise argument in this case, noting the city has banned such establishments as strip clubs, X-rated stores and medical marijuana dispensaries.
Numerous supporters of the ban turned their ire toward Carlsbad Pets, making claims the store has haphazard practices and unhealthy animals. Those supporters also said the issue is one of consumer protection against stores that do not disclose aspects of their animals and financing.
Several opponents of the ban, meanwhile, presented slideshows detailing Carlsbad Pets’ dedication to selling quality animals that are healthy and happy.
Jasmine Ramirez, a manager at the store, said the business visited its breeders recently and those animals were housed with care and were healthy. In addition, she said their breeders make sure the dogs are socialized, registered with the American Kennel Club and do not do business with such companies as the Hunte Corporation, which has come under fire from animals rights groups.
Ramirez countered claims of doing business with the corporation, showing how the Carlsbad store rejected an offer to sell Hunte’s puppies.
She also blasted claims stemming from video taken of a truck from the Hunte Corporation delivering dogs to a North County location.
“It wasn’t us,” Ramirez said.
Several county experts and activists cited reports criticizing puppy mills and their inhumane treatment of dogs and cats. Those animals, the experts said, are forced to breed up to two to three times per year, while the United States Department of Agriculture, who oversees the enforcement, has inadequate resources to keep pace with such breeders.
According to a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Carlsbad Pets has closed its location in the former Carlsbad mall just one day after the council’s decision.