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Oswego Village Board  silent on puppy mill ban

A pet activist group is asking Oswego officials ban sale puppies kittens pet stores village.| File Photo

A pet activist group is asking Oswego officials to ban the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores in the village.| File Photo

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:02AM

OSWEGO — Trustees this week took no action on a proposal to ban sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores in the village.

Residents and members of the nonprofit Puppy Mill Project asked the Village Board to consider the prohibition in an effort to curb the demand for dogs raised in puppy mills and resold to pet stores. Commercial brokers and retail pet stores that sell live dogs and cats contribute to hundreds of thousands of companion animals living as livestock in deplorable conditions, advocates said.

“This is all legal, this is all OK according to the USDA,” said Jill Edelman, of the Puppy Mill Project, after showing trustees images of mothering dogs, crowded in small cages in unsanitary conditions and in poor health.

“These dogs don’t ever come out of their cages. The puppies, of course, get out, but the mom never leaves the cage her entire life. The law requires a 10-inch dog have 14 inches of space in a cage.”

Edelman said that stopping puppy mill dog sales is a matter of both animal welfare and consumer fraud.

“When you buy a dog from a pet store, this is where they come from,” she said. “Most people do not willingly buy a dog from a puppy mill. They’re told they’re from reputable breeders. But reputable breeders do not buy from puppy mills. A responsible breeder would want to you to come to their home, see their dogs and how they’re taken care of.”

Village President Brian LeClercq called the photos “disturbing to say the least,” but neither he nor any board members asked village staff to draft an ordinance for official consideration.

In addition to banning retail dog and cat sales, the Puppy Mill Project asked trustees to ban the commercial resale of dogs and cats.

The proposed ordinance would have included an exception for home breeders and encouraged adoption events at retail pet supply stores, like those that already happen at Oswego’s six existing pet supply stores.

The proposal was brought to the Village Board because of a new pet store, Love Our Dog, which is slated to open — and sell puppies — on Route 30 near Route 34. The business has already obtained its building permit, and would likely be grandfathered into the village, regardless of whether a retail puppy sales ban passes, village staff said.

But business owners, shelter volunteers and dog lovers asked the village to consider ways to regulate the business.

“If you allow a pet store in the community, ensure they have to take their dogs back (if the pet is no longer wanted), and they have to re-home it, and they have to provide the medical care, and not put it on Animal Control, which our tax dollars go into, and on rescues, which our personal money goes into to save dogs,” said Judi Haft, owner of Central Bark in Oswego, a doggy day care and a rescue volunteer.

But for trustees, the prohibition of retail puppy sales was not a matter of animal welfare.

“I’m struggling with whether this is a legislative issue,” said Trustee Jeff Lawson. “I’m looking at this from a free market issue.”

Just prior to the meeting, Lawson declared himself the “new father” of a miniature dachshund, and though he would not say whether he purchased the dog at a pet store, he said his niece works at Furry Babies, a pet store at Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora that markets puppies in baby cribs, and defended the store for its AKC-certified dogs.

Enforcement, trustees said, was also an issue.

“We have a hard enough time enforcing people to cut their grass,” said Trustee Scott Volpe.

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