The May 31 meeting of the Pierce County Council went to the dogs – literally.
By a 5-2 vote, the council passed an ordinance designed to curb puppy mills. The regulations in the legislation forbid pet shops in unincorporated Pierce County from selling dogs younger than eight weeks old and require pet stores to get their dogs from an organization licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If pet stores buy dogs from an individual, that person is required to follow the state’s stringent dog breeding laws.
The legislation also mandates that shops disclose all financial information for the sale of a dog, including financing or credit options.
“If you go to buy an animal or a pet, you want to know where it came from,” said Councilmember Jani Hitchen, who spearheaded the ordinance meant to keep customers from being swindled and puppies safe. “You want to know it’s as healthy as possible, and you want to know how much it’s going to cost.”
In practice, the legislation would only impact one business: Puppyland, which is located in Puyallup.
Councilmember Dave Morell expressed concerns the legislation unfairly targeted Puppyland.
“I don’t mind an ordinance that gets to transparency, that deals with consumer protection,” he said. “It’s just when you try to regulate a business out of business – that I have a problem with.”
Morell, who ended up voting against the ordinance along with fellow Councilmember Amy Cruver, said the store received nine complaints in 2020, with further inspections yielding no animal control violations. The shop, he said, sells an average of 1,700 puppies a year, inspects every breeder that it buys from, and has not contributed to the county’s rising population of abandoned dogs.
Cruver questioned why the county was inserting itself into the situation.
“Is it something the government should be involved in, and will the outcome achieve the intent?” Cruver asked.
She went on to wonder “why the county is even getting involved with something that I believe is really not in our jurisdiction. It belongs to the state or federal levels.”
With the ordinance passed by the council, County Executive Bruce Dammeier must still sign it before it goes into effect.
In other business, the council confirmed the appointment of two new members – Candie Lorenzo and Brian Beck – to the Pierce County Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.
Two new members – Christopher Escobedo and Faaluaina Pritchard – and two reappointed members – Kelly Johnson and Claudia Fornasiero – were confirmed to the Pierce County Arts Commission by the council.
The council confirmed the appointment of two new members – Elizabeth Badgley and Matt Wakefield – to the Pierce County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
Finally, the council passed a resolution designated June 2022 as “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month” in Pierce County.
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