Wauwatosa pet store ordinance: council passes ordinance – Milwaukee Journal SentinelPets
The Wauwatosa Common Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance that prohibits Wauwatosa pet stores from selling cats or dogs.
But the ordinance, which seeks to bring attention to the negative effects of puppy mills, will not affect any existing pet stores in the city.
Ald. Nancy Welch proposed the ordinance. It was unanimously passed by the Community Affairs Committee in April.
“What we have before us is what we have under our control within our jurisdiction, and I think we should take action on it,” Welch said during the Common Council meeting.
Under the ordinance, no pet store in the city will be allowed to “sell, deliver, offer for sale, barter, auction, give away, or otherwise transfer or dispose of cats or dogs.”
The ordinance won’t prohibit the store from showcasing animals from pet shelters or rescues.
The aim of the ordinance is to encourage consumers to buy pets from shelters or directly from responsible and reputable breeders. It loosely mirrors a similar ordinance drafted by the Humane Society of the United States.
Puppy mills, which typically breed a large number of puppies for sale, have long been criticized as having inhumane conditions for animals.
A 2021 report from The Humane Society estimated there are about 10,000 puppy mills nationwide, many of which are not inspected or licensed.
Ald. Joseph Makhlouf voted in favor of the ordinance.
“I don’t see the need for a pet store for selling them (pets) when there’s so many various options for adoption,” Makhlouf said.
Currently, only four other municipalities in Wisconsin have a similar “Humane Pet Ordinance” on the books: Beloit, Whitewater, Appleton and Fort Atkinson. More than 400 municipalities in 30 states across the nation also have similar ordinances.
“I think it’s important for us to make a statement about how we want pets to be treated,” Ald. Margaret Arney said at the council meeting.
The Common Council voted 14-2 to approve the ordinance, with Ald. Mike Morgan and Amanda Fuerst voting against its passage.
Fuerst and Morgan discussed a letter the city received from The Pet Advocacy Network, which urged the council not to approve the ordinance.
The organization argued that the ordinance would negatively affect responsible pet breeders and pet stores. It also said it could drive more people to the black market for pets.
“While well-intentioned, retail pet sale bans will not stop bad breeders who are unregulated, unlicensed, and are not held accountable to any animal care standards,” the letter said.
That argument persuaded Morgan and Fuerst enough to vote no on the ordinance.
“While I totally respect both sides and I kind of expect it’ll pass, I’m going to vote against it simply for that reason,” Morgan said of the letter.
No pet stores in Wauwatosa currently sell dogs or cats, but the ordinance would prevent any future pet stores that might come to Wauwatosa from profiting off the sale of cats or dogs.
Wauwatosa City Attorney Alan Kesner said the city doesn’t currently have any ordinances that explicitly ban puppy mills in city limits, but does have ordinances requiring the humane treatment of animals.
A similar state bill, proposed in 2019, which would have banned the sale of dogs or cats from pet stores, was not passed.
That bill, which was supported by the Wisconsin Humane Society, sought to decrease the demand for animals from puppy mills. Instead of selling dogs and cats, stores would be mandated to work with animal rescues and humane societies to host adoption events under the legislation.
Evan Casey can be reached at 414-403-4391 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ecaseymedia.