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Puppy Mill Awareness Meetup (Southeast Michigan) Message Board › The Family Puppy/Family of Pets (Exposed)

The Family Puppy/Family of Pets (Exposed)

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,621


Toledo City Council hears debate on proposed pet sale regulations

by Angi Gonzalez
VIDEO: http://www.northwestohio.com/news/story.aspx?id=973810#.UoynGyfiGS8­

TOLEDO -- Toledo's City Council heard arguments Tuesday for and against a proposal that would regulate the "sale of dogs and cats" by retail businesses.

Both sides were represented at the forum, but those in favor of the legislation were the majority of those in attendance.

Supporters say it would help ensure that unknowing consumers do not buy animals that may have come from puppy mills.

Some believe the measure would also encourage those looking for a family pet to seek out animals in shelters, where they are in the care of rescues and local humane societies.

Several of the animal advocates in attendance contend that the Franklin Park Mall's "Family Puppy" store gets their "product" from puppy mills.

It's an accusation that the owner of the store has denied numerous times and did so again during his comments before City Council members.

READ: "The Family Puppy" prepares to open at Westfield Franklin Park Mall

"If you pass this ordinance, what will happen is the families that would come to our store, that want a good source, that want somebody that has gone to the breeder that is a good source, they will go somewhere else," Family Puppy owner John Stottele said Tuesday.

Animal advocate and founder of a Lucas County dog rescue, Jean Keating told City Council she researched "The Family Puppy" background and found otherwise.

"I gave you a packet about a week ago that had some actual data in it, from 3 of the major suppliers of [The Family Puppy]. I think you can see the USDA is a government agency and they come in about once a year to these facilities," Keating said of the conditions reported at the suppliers.

Keating also pointed out that the ordinance would do more to help keep animals safe than to hurt local businesses.

According to Keating, around 30 percent of dogs are still euthanized by the Lucas County Dog Warden despite efforts to get as many adoptable pets into loving homes as possible.

The proposal, which would allow the adoption of "companion animals" from certain groups, would also take a stand against puppy mill practices.

City Council could vote on the ordinance as early as next Tuesday.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,622


Published: 11/19/2013 - Updated: 3 minutes ago

TOLEDO CITY COUNCIL

Council urged to OK ordinance

Activists seek to stop sales of dogs supplied by puppy mills

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A dozen animal-rights activists pleaded with Toledo City Council on Tuesday to adopt a controversial ordinance that would strictly regulate the sale of cats and dogs in the city of Toledo.

The proposed law, drafted after a pet store in Westfield Franklin Park that sells puppies opened, would forbid the shop to obtain animals from unscrupulous puppy mills, proponents said.

On the other side of the debate was a minority of voices, including Councilman Mike Craig and unsuccessful council candidate Ron Johns, who argued the proposed law is not business-friendly.

“The intent is to ban retail sales,” Mr. Craig said during the lengthy hearing before council, which convened as committee of the whole. “If you want to ban sales, then let’s just say we are banning retail sales. Don’t couch this that we are trying to police something, because we are not. … I think that is a terrible idea, but fine.”

Mr. Johns said the law’s proponents are mistaken about the breeders used by the store.

“If there was no demand for bred puppies, this store would not be there,” he said. “If you don’t want a bred puppy, then just don’t buy one.... It’s really ironic you say you want new businesses to come to Toledo, and then you pass laws like this.”

Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins, a district councilman, said the proposed law is good public policy and humane.

The Family Puppy, a southeast Michigan chain, opened in October in the mall amid controversy and protests. John Stottele, who co-owns the Family Puppy with his wife, Deb, said he often goes to Indiana to pick up puppies from about 20 primarily Amish breeders who provide him with dogs to sell.

Mr. Stottele told council that dog overpopulation does not include “adoptable” dogs.

“There is not an overpopulation of adoptable dogs,” Mr. Stottele said. “They are euthanized for temperament failures or aging.”

The law, which if passed would apply to the store that is already open, would ban the sale of a “companion animal” in pet shops, retail businesses, and commercial establishments unless the animal is obtained from a legitimate animal shelter, animal-control agency, humane society, or nonprofit rescue organization.

It would prohibit the display or sale of dogs or cats unless they are at least 8 weeks old and have their deciduous teeth visibly present. The law would require inoculations and that the animals be spayed or neutered.

Susan Robinson, a retired teacher from Woodville who testified in favor of the law, told council that her two dogs came from “Amish puppy mills.”

“The places they came from were horrific, and they will have life-long consequences because of that,” Ms. Robinson said. “The problems with puppy mills is that dogs should never be factory-farmed for someone’s profit. ... Even if it is a better puppy mill, it is still unethical. The people of northwest Ohio do not need to be duped into thinking they have purchased a quality puppy.”

Jean Keating, co-founder of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, said more than 8,000 people have signed an online petition in favor of the law.

“We have made tremendous strides, not just the city of Toledo but Lucas County as a whole, becoming a more humane community,” Ms. Keating said.

John Dinon, former director of the Toledo Area Humane Society, said reputable dog breeders do not sell dogs through pet shops.

“The number one reason surrender was economic; the number two was behavior,” Mr. Dinon said.

He said animal-rights groups universally agree that animals from puppy mills are more likely to have behavior problems.

“There is an issue of behavior that leads to these animals ending up in shelter,” Mr. Dinon said.

Councilman Tom Waniewski said he would keep an open mind about the law but questioned if clothing retailers should be banned if their products were made in countries with poor conditions for human workers.

Under the proposed law, it would be a first-degree misdemeanor to sell puppy-mill dogs.

Mr. Stottele said he would close the store if the ordinance passes. Council could vote on it during its next meeting Nov. 26.

Read more at http://www.toledoblad...­
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,623


CITY COUNCIL

Council hears feedback on proposed pet legislation
Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | sottney@toledofreepress.com

Discourse was passionate but civil at a Nov. 19 committee meeting during which Toledo City Council members heard for nearly two hours from supporters and skeptics of proposed legislation that would regulate the sale of dogs and cats in Toledo.

The ordinance, co-sponsored by Council president Paula Hicks-Hudson and Council member Rob Ludeman, would prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops, retail businesses and commercial establishments unless the animals are obtained from a legitimate animal shelter, animal control agency, humane society, nonprofit rescue organization and the animals are spayed or neutered.

The intent is to prevent the sale of animals from substandard breeding facilities commonly referred to as “puppy mills” or “kitten factories.”

Passage of the legislation would directly affect The Family Puppy, a pet shop that opened at Westfield Shopping Center on Oct. 18. The Michigan-based business buys puppies from Amish breeders in northern Indiana and sells them in its six locations: five in Southeast Michigan and one in Toledo. It also offers an adoption program, which serves mainly kittens.

About 25 supporters of the legislation attended the meeting wearing stickers that read “Boycott The Family Puppy.”

Susan Robinson of Woodville, who has participated in regular protests held outside the Toledo shop, said she owns two dogs rescued from Amish puppy mills.

“The places they came from are horrific and they will have lifelong consequences because of that,” Robinson said. “I know that some puppy mills are better than others, but that is like saying some forms of cancer are better than others. We would like them all to go away.”

Jaleen Tocco of the Ohio Coalition for Dogs said puppy mills exist because they are lucrative.

“The only way to stop puppy mills is to cut off the demand in the market,” Tocco said.

Mary Stulpin of Curtice said she has five dogs rescued from puppy mills.

“They’re the lucky ones,” Stulpin said. “Many of these animals never get this opportunity. I ask you to think about the horrible conditions of the dogs who are left behind.”

John and Debbie Stottele, owners of The Family Puppy, insist they carefully screen the breeders they buy from.

“We have developed a great partnership with our breeders and know them personally,” John wrote in a letter to City Council. “We have been in their kennels and homes and continue to strive to provide our client families the very best puppy: happy, healthy, well socialized, choice. We are continually improving our breeders including the physical and social wellbeing of the parent dogs. We have been matching puppies and families for more than 15 years while maintaining an A+ BBB Rating.”

“Many times we’ve said we’re not like other pet stores and we feel we’re not,” Debbie told Council members on Nov. 19. “We do not feel that our puppies are the problem.”

John said he is in agreement with Council members and the activists who want to eradicate puppy mills, which he prefers to call “substandard breeders.”

“We need to clamp down on bad breeders — and we’re in that fight,” John said. “The state wants to stop bad breeders, the federal government wants to stop bad breeders, we want to stop bad breeding. But what you’re proposing will not do that.”

Stottele said only about 4 percent of dogs in the U.S. are purchased through pet stores. The rest come from private sales, Internet sales and shelters, which are largely unregulated.

“Google all day long ‘Puppies for sale in Ohio’ and you’ll find hundreds of Internet sellers and there is no regulation at all,” John said. “Look at what you’re doing. Don’t trade a highly regulated industry for a nonregulated industry.”

The legislation was drafted after Hicks-Hudson and Ludeman were approached by Jean Keating of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates.

“We have made tremendous strides, not just the city of Toledo but Lucas County as a whole, moving forward and becoming a more humane community,” Keating said.

Keating and Pam Sordyl of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan said they can prove The Family Puppy’s three largest suppliers are puppy mills.

“The Family Puppy is neither here nor there to me; I have no issue with the store itself. My issue is with puppy mill dogs,” Keating said. “[Through USDA records], we basically proved that yes, he does buy from those breeders and yes those breeders are all USDA inspected and yes those breeders all have violations almost every single year.”

The Stotteles said they break ties with breeders who have egregious or repeat direct violations or do not fulfill their company’s breeder requirements, which voluntarily exceed those required by the USDA.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,624
Continued

Gail Dick of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners told Council her group feels the legislation is “unfair and unnecessary.”

“The ordinance as we understand it was written specifically to drive this particular business establishment out of town,” said . “It is unfair to assume and classify commercial breeders as unreputable because they sell animals to a retail establishment. It is also very disrespectful to portray all commercial breeders as neglectful [and] uncompassionate.”

Ron Johns, a marketing and entrepreneurship major at the University of Toledo who ran for City Council, but fell short in the primary election, said the legislation is bad for business.

“It’s really ironic that you guys are saying you want new business to come to Toledo. However, you’re passing legislation like this,” Johns said. “When you wonder why Toledo’s economy is lacking, I can tell you; it’s because of politicians passing legislation like this. We’re going to be running out John and Debbie, whose store employs people and who are selling good product.”

Businessman Bill DeLaney, another unsuccessful City Council candidate, said people deserve a right to choose.

“We have a tendency sometimes to throw people out of this town, by whatever means,” Delaney said. “This man has a right to be here. He has paid his fees, got his permit, done everything he’s supposed to do to set up his business. He has a right to be here and people have a right to choose what they want to do.”

Ludeman said he is sponsoring the ordinance because of Toledo’s “huge pet overpopulation problem.”

“The sale of dogs and cats (companion animals) contributes to the proliferation of homeless or unwanted animals that are often poorly treated and/or end up in the public animal shelters and humane societies and animal welfare rescue organizations,” the legislation reads.

“Prohibiting the unregulated sale of companion animals in pet shops, retail businesses, or other commercial establishments may lower the sale of dogs and cats from inhumane ‘puppy mills’ and ‘kitten factories,’ and may lower the shelter animal euthanasia rate, and lead to a greater adoption rate of shelter animals,” the legislation reads.

Steve Sorchuck, who has served on the boards of the Toledo Area Humane Society, Lucas County Dog Warden Citizens Advisory Council and Humane Ohio, said his biggest concern was that The Family Puppy doesn’t spay or neuter it’s puppies.

“I’m concerned this business is going to create negative effects by putting all these extra animals that are not spayed or neutered in our community,” Sorchuk said. “Because those animals are going to have more offspring and ultimately those offspring is going to fall to the nonprofits or the tax sponsored dog warden.”

John Dinan, former director of the Toledo Area Humane Society, also spoke in support of the legislation.

“The proliferation and sale of dogs from inhumane sources — that’s what this is really all about,” Dinan said. “Reputable breeders do not sell dogs through the pet shops. That’s just the way it is.”

The bill’s language currently would make the retail sale of such an animal a class 1 misdemeanor. There was some talk of that being too steep, but Dinan said he disagreed.

“Since this is regulating a revenue generating business, if the penalties are not stiff enough then it just becomes a cost of doing business,” Dinan said.

Councilman Mike Craig said he thinks the legislation is “a terrible idea.”

“If we want to ban sales then let’s just say we’re banning retail sales,” Craig said. “Don’t couch this as we’re trying to police something because we’re not. We’re trying to ban retail sales of pets in Toledo.”

Councilman Tom Waniewski also seemed skeptical.

“I’ve heard a lot of attacks on puppy mills when the legislation is an attack on The Family Puppy,” Waniewski said. “That’s what we have to weigh here: Are they getting them from a good puppy mill or a bad puppy mill?

“That’s what I’m trying to distinguish here,” he added. “I think there’s still some more to be done with this ordinance.”

Council members Shaun Enright, Steve Steel and Lindsay Webb were not present for the committee meeting.

http://www.toledofree...­
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,627
It is always good to see what the pro-puppy millers are saying. Notice they don’t’ really talk about the conditions in the kennels. They missed an important aspect of the ordinance. It does not restrict the public from buying directly from the breeders. People still have choices. This is a “retail” ban.

http://watchdog.org/1...­

Dog daze: Toledo ordinance would close pet shop, the store’s owners say

By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog

AP photo

BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS: The Toledo council has drafted an ordinance making it illegal for businesses to sell companion animals unless they get them from a city or county shelter or animal control agency, a humane society or a nonprofit rescue organization.
In 1952 Patti Page sang “How much is that doggie in the window? I do hope that doggie’s for sale.”

If she were in Toledo in 2013, though, she wouldn’t bother, considering a proposal from the City Council.

You see, some people think puppies and kittens should be adopted, not sold.

What’s the difference? Well, pet stores sell for profit while organizations that adopt them out only recoup their expenses for vaccinations, spaying, neutering and otherwise making them adoptable.

It’s the profit that’s evil, apparently.

Democrat Paula Hicks-Hudson and Republican Rob Ludeman drafted an ordinance making it illegal for businesses to sell companion animals unless they get them from a city or county shelter or animal-control agency, a humane society or a nonprofit rescue organization.

Oh, and they must be spayed or neutered. So if you wanted to breed the pet you buy, forget about it.

And if you want something other than what a shelter or humane society are offering, too bad. The council, in effect, is removing that choice.

The owners of the only business potentially affected by the plan say they would close their new store.

Even before The Family Puppy opened in the Westfield Franklin Park mall in October, protesters were waving signs that said “adopt, don’t shop,” “Family Puppy = cruelty” and “Family Puppy uses bad breeders.”

The main concern appears to be “puppy mills,” which has no standard definition but generally references large-scale commercial dog breeders where animals are bred and kept in unsanitary conditions without proper veterinary care.

But John Stottele, co-owner of Family Puppy, prefers the term sub-standard breeders because of the lack of a clear definition for “puppy mill.” Either way, he says, it’s not reflective of the breeders he uses.

“Our standards are listed on our website,” he told the Toledo council. “They are above and beyond USDA guidelines.”

Supporters of the law talk about puppy mills, but it’s really more about the way they think of pets and that evil word, profit.

“The problems with puppy mills is that dogs should never be factory-farmed for someone’s profit,” Susan Robinson of Woodville told the council. “Even if it is a better puppy mill, it is still unethical.”

That thought encapsulates most of the thinking — The world has too many unwanted dogs and cats, so there’s no need to buy a puppy or a kitten at a pet store. As if you can’t make money and care about the animals you’re selling at the same time. Where is it written the two are mutually exclusive?

Just take a look at some of the comments on various news sites that covered the story:

“Never, EVER buy a dog or puppy when shelters and rescue orgaizations (sic) are overflowing with them.”

“What kind of animal lover sells dogs at a mall. … There are many dogs that need a home at shelters/dog warden/rescues. Adopt, Don’t Shop.”

“Selling dogs or cats in any Pet Store should be illegal.”

“Dogs are not “merchandise”!”

Missing in the discussions so far is the idea of choice and whether government should limit that choice simply because some people disapprove.

Should consumers be able to buy animals from the supplier that meets their needs?

Should consumers be able to buy a puppy rather than adopt one?

Should a business owner have the ability to choose their suppliers and use the ones that meet their needs and standards?

Or, should a handful of people be able to use government to force others to abide by their own choices on the very same questions?

If the goal is to get rid of puppy mills, the proposed Toledo law isn’t the solution, Stottele told the council. “It doesn’t help if you shut down breeders who are doing well or if you or tell a pet store that he can’t buy or sell a dog from a breeder” that is doing all the right things, he said.

There’s also the double standard of regulating a brick-and-mortar business while ignoring those online.

“So why can you pass an ordinance that says a pet store can’t sell a dog from a breeder when it happens all day long on line?” he asked.

Unlike detractors who also called for a boycott of the mall until the pet store was closed, Stottele sees a way to address the concerns about bad breeders.

“A pet store needs to buy and sell dogs from a licensed, regulated USDA-inspected facility with no direction violations in the last two years. I’d totally be in support of that,” he said.

The Toledo council referred the matter to committee.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,628


http://www.bgnews.com...­

Questions raised about puppy mill practices, Toledo pet store

Saving Animals from Violence and Exploitation protests The Family Puppy for purchasing its dogs from puppy mills.

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 12:56 am | Updated: 11:59 am, Fri Nov 22, 2013.

William Channell | Reporter | 0 comments

A Toledo-area pet store has been receiving controversy from an animal-rights group who claims the store gets its dogs from substandard puppy mills.

The Family Puppy, the seller in question, is a family-owned pet store based out of Michigan. It specializes in selling dogs, and it recently opened a store at Franklin Park Mall in Toledo.

Pam Sordyl, who started Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, started a campaign against The Family Puppy after a location opened in her hometown of Flint, Mich.

“We didn’t want a new puppy store when we’re trying to shut them down,” Sordyl said.

John Stottele, owner of The Family Puppy, said his breeders are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act.

Tanya Espinosa, a Public Affairs Specialist with the USDA, said breeders who have at least five breeding females and sell the offspring to buyers, who don’t see the breeding facility, are required to get a sellers’ license which makes them subject to USDA inspection.

Stottele said he picks his breeders carefully.

“We decided we needed to go on a hunt for better breeders,” Stottele said. “We wanted to go see and find the best of the best.”

Stottele said he eventually came upon around 20 Amish breeders in Northern Indiana, five of whom he chose to work with. He said he then helped those five breeders improve conditions in their operations.

“We visited breeders, we helped them design their kennels,” Stottele said. “We helped them learn how to care for the dogs in the very best way.”

A blog made by Sordyl claims 14 of The Family Puppy’s 16 primary breeders have had violations of the Animal Welfare Act in the past few years.

Stottele said the violations animal activists cite are “indirect violations,” rather than direct violations. Espinosa said indirect violations deal with maintenance of the breeding facility itself, as well as minor animal welfare problems, such as an animal that has not seen a veterinarian in a certain amount of time, or that does not have updated paperwork. Direct violations deal with problems that are directly affecting an animal’s well-being.

Sordyl said a seller should not receive dogs from a breeder that has any violations.

“I feel that [a] store shouldn’t have any violations of care,” Sordyl said. “Direct or indirect.”

When asked for the names of his breeders, Stottele declined, citing a desire to protect the privacy of his breeders from media attention.

Sordyl said it is the lack of transparency that makes her wary.

“The important thing is, if families cannot see the parents, they shouldn’t buy the dog,” Sordyl said. “You could be contributing to animal cruelty.”

Freshman Alex Ryan shares Sordyl’s wariness, and said she would rather get a puppy from a shelter, and would be nervous about getting a puppy from a pet store.

“No one really knows where you get the puppies from anyway,” Ryan said. “That’s why I would be nervous about it.”

Brandon Young, the manager of The Family Puppy at Franklin Park Mall, said all its puppies continually get care after they reach the store.

“We have a vet who travels to all the kennels and does things like teeth cleaning, check ups, etc.,” Young said. “We are working on [a veterinarian just for this store].”

The conditions in a store can be good, Sordyl said, but that does not mean the original source is reputable.

“It’s easy for families to go to a store and see the condition of the store is great,” Sordyl said. “But they don’t see the kennel.”

Stottele said both he and the activists have the same goal: to get rid of bad breeders.

“We’re all in this together,” Stottele said.
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,629


http://www.toledofree...­

Legislation would restrict dog, cat sales in Toledo
Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | sottney@toledofreepress.com

“Puppy mills” are at the center of a debate over legislation Toledo City Council is weighing that would strictly regulate the sale of dogs and cats in Toledo.

The controversial ordinance, co-sponsored by Council president Paula Hicks-Hudson and Councilman Rob Ludeman, would prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops, retail businesses and commercial establishments unless the animals are obtained from a legitimate animal shelter, animal control agency, humane society or nonprofit rescue organization and the animals are spayed or neutered.

Owners John and Debbie Stottele said they would close their Toledo pet store if proposed restrictive legislation is passed in Toledo. Toledo Free Press photo and cover photo by Kim Sanchez

The intent is to prevent the sale of animals from substandard breeding facilities commonly referred to as “puppy mills” or “kitten factories.” But opponents of the legislation argue the proposed law unfairly targets business — and one business in particular.

John and Debbie Stottele, owners of The Family Puppy, a pet shop that opened at Westfield Franklin Park on Oct. 18, said they would close the store if Council passes the ordinance. The Toledo shop employs seven people, including two full-time employees.

The Michigan-based business also has five locations in southeast Michigan. It buys puppies from about 20 Amish breeders in northern Indiana. Puppies are typically sold at between 8-12 weeks of age.

John said he stands with Council members and activists who want to eradicate puppy mills, although he prefers the term “substandard breeders.”

“We need to clamp down on bad breeders — and we’re in that fight,” John told Council members on Nov. 19 during a committee meeting at which the group listened for nearly two hours to supporters and skeptics of the proposed legislations. “The state wants to stop bad breeders, the federal government wants to stop bad breeders, we want to stop bad breeders. But what you’re proposing will not do that.”

“We do not feel that our puppies are the problem,” Debbie added.

John said only about 4 percent of dogs in the U.S. are purchased through pet stores. The rest come from private sales, Internet sales and shelters, all of which are largely unregulated.

“If pet stores only sell 4 percent, where do the other 96 percent come from and is the pet store really the problem?” John asked. “We all want to get rid of bad breeders, but this is going about it wrong. What we need to do is what the state is trying to do — regulate large-scale breeders and give them restrictions and guidelines. Ohio is writing that as we speak. The federal government has had it since 1966. Look at what you’re doing. Don’t trade a highly regulated industry for a nonregulated industry.”
Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,630
continued



Animal activists

Protesters outside Westfield Franklin Park say the family puppy stocks animals raised in ‘puppy mills.’ Photo by Pam Sordyl

Discourse was passionate but civil at the Nov. 19 meeting. About 25 supporters of the legislation attended, wearing stickers that read “Boycott The Family Puppy.”

Susan Robinson of Woodville, who has participated in regular protests held outside the mall, said she owns two dogs rescued from Amish puppy mills.

“The places they came from are horrific and they will have lifelong consequences because of that,” Robinson said. “I know that some puppy mills are better than others, but that is like saying some forms of cancer are better than others. We would like them all to go away.”

Mary Stulpin of Curtice said she has five dogs rescued from puppy mills.

“They’re the lucky ones,” Stulpin said. “Many of these animals never get this opportunity. I ask you to think about the horrible conditions of the dogs who are left behind.”

Jaleen Tocco of the Ohio Coalition for Dogs said puppy mills exist because they are lucrative.

“The only way to stop puppy mills is to cut off the demand in the market,” Tocco said.

Pam Sordyl of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan and Jean Keating of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, who are spearheading the protest, said The Family Puppy’s three largest suppliers are puppy mills.

“[Through USDA records], we basically proved that yes, he does buy from those breeders and yes those breeders are all USDA inspected and yes those breeders all have violations almost every single year,” Keating said.

The Stotteles insist they carefully screen their breeders and break ties with those found to be in serious violation.

“We have developed a great partnership with our breeders and know them personally,” John wrote in a letter to City Council. “We have been in their kennels and homes and continue to strive to provide our client families the very best puppy: happy, healthy, well-socialized, choice. We are continually improving our breeders, including the physical and social well-being of the parent dogs.”

The USDA inspects breeding facilities using regulations set forth by the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. New federal legislation that took effect Nov. 18 adds regulation to breeders who sell sight-unseen over the Internet. Ohio is currently working on its own high-volume breeder legislation.

The USDA inspects licensed breeder facilities once a year. Direct violations involve the health and well-being of an animal, while indirect violations are often maintenance issues, John said.

Pet shops are not required to buy from USDA and American Kennel Club licensed breeders; however, the Stotteles said they choose to. They also said their breeder requirements voluntarily exceed USDA’s requirements.

“Some pet stores do buy from unlicensed breeders and they are OK with that. I am not,” John said.

John said of the 22 primary breeders he’s used in the past three years, three have been cited for direct violations. He said he no longer buys from a breeder who was cited for sick and overheated puppies, but decided to continue buying from the other two after talking with them and determining their issues to be resolved. One was cited for tartar buildup on animals’ teeth and the other was cited for allowing an unlicensed veterinarian to perform “cherry eye” surgery on a dog, which John said was unharmed.
The Stotteles’ breeders were also cited for 32 indirect violations — 14 of them for no one being at home when an inspector came by unannounced, John said.

“I have no breeders right now that have had a direct violation in the past year. That’s the one I’m most concerned with,” John said. “Am I concerned with indirect violations? Yes I am. If a guy had repeat indirect violations over and over, I’d cut him off, but if he has direct violations I’m going to take a serious look because that breeder is not taking care of his dog.”

John said he can offer families 35 years of expertise in choosing a dog.

John said he can offer families 35 years of expertise in choosing a dog. He started cleaning kennels for a pet store in college and later became the chain’s district manager for Michigan. In 1998, the company’s owner was diagnosed with cancer and decided to close his shops. The Stotteles renegotiated leases for three of them.

“I don’t know how many dogs families buy in their lifetime. Three, four, five? I’ve bought thousands of them, so I know how to pick a breeder,” John said. “If you’re not experienced in it, you can get snowed in a heartbeat.”

But Robinson and others are not convinced.

“The people of Northwest Ohio do not need to be duped into thinking they are buying quality puppies that have been carefully bred just because someone says they are,” she said.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,631
continued.

Council reaction

Ludeman said he is sponsoring the ordinance because of Toledo’s “huge pet overpopulation problem.”

“The sale of dogs and cats (companion animals) contributes to the proliferation of homeless or unwanted animals that are often poorly treated and/or end up in the public animal shelters and humane societies and animal welfare rescue organizations,” the legislation reads.

“Prohibiting the unregulated sale of companion animals in pet shops, retail businesses, or other commercial establishments may lower the sale of dogs and cats from inhumane ‘puppy mills’ and ‘kitten factories,’ and may lower the shelter animal euthanasia rate, and lead to a greater adoption rate of shelter animals,” it continues.

Ludeman — who is a Toledo Animal Shelter board member and former member of the Lucas County Dog Warden Advisory Committee — said he feels strongly the legislation is needed.

“I just have a big philosophical issue with retail puppy stores like that. It’s just something I can’t agree with,” Ludeman said. “You’ve just got to picture an operation of 50 to 100 dogs. I don’t know how you can call it anything other than a puppy mill.”

City Council will likely address the ordinance at its next meeting Nov. 26. Ludeman said he expects several members to propose amendments.

Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins said he is concerned about unintended consequences.

“I haven’t made my mind up as to where I am on the legislation,” Collins said. “But I would hope the author of the legislation would take the testimony that was given last night (Nov. 19), in particular the concerns, and modify the language to the extent that it isn’t overly aggressive against an industry, where good actors are treated the same as bad actors.”

Councilman Mike Craig said he thinks the legislation is “a terrible idea.”

“If we want to ban sales then let’s just say we’re banning retail sales,” Craig said during the meeting. “Don’t couch this as we’re trying to police something because we’re not. We’re trying to ban retail sales of pets in Toledo.”

“If you make people operate in a way that there is no possible way they can make money, hat is a ban,” Craig later added. “If you want to say that to sell cigarettes in the city of Toledo, it’s 150 bucks a pack, I don’t care what you say, that’s a ban on sales. Just call it what it is.

“When other people are talking or I’m talking, I like to look at the faces of the people listening and see what their reactions are. When I said it was a ban, I looked at the proponents and six or seven of them were shaking their heads yes, so they know perfectly well what they are doing.”

Craig said he’d like to see Council adopt legislation that regulates but doesn’t ban.

“They are losing an opportunity to encourage business but hold them to a higher standard,” Craig said.

Councilman Tom Waniewski also seemed skeptical.

“I’ve heard a lot of attacks on puppy mills when the legislation is an attack on The Family Puppy,” Waniewski said. “That’s what we have to weigh here: Are they getting them from a good puppy mill or a bad puppy mill? That’s what I’m trying to distinguish here. I think there’s still some more to be done with this ordinance.”

Business concerns

Ron Johns, a University of Toledo student who unsuccessfully ran for City Council, said antibusiness legislation hinders Toledo’s economy.

“It’s really ironic that you guys are saying you want new business to come to Toledo. However, you’re passing legislation like this,” Johns said. “When you wonder why Toledo’s economy is lacking, I can tell you; it’s because of politicians passing legislation like this.”

Businessman Bill Delaney, another unsuccessful City Council candidate, said people deserve a right to choose.

“We have a tendency sometimes to throw people out of this town, by whatever means,” Delaney said. “This man has a right to be here. He has paid his fees, got his permit, done everything he’s supposed to do to set up his business. He has a right to be here and people have a right to choose what they want to do.”

Ludeman said he disagrees that the legislation is anti-business.

“This a whole different type of animal — excuse the pun — than other types of businesses in Toledo that want to come and start up,” Ludeman said.

Gail Dick of the Ohio Association of Animal Owners told Council her group feels the legislation is “unfair and unnecessary.”

“The ordinance as we understand it was written specifically to drive this particular business establishment out of town,” Dick said. “It is unfair to assume and classify commercial breeders as unreputable because they sell animals to a retail establishment. It is also very disrespectful to portray all commercial breeders as neglectful [and] uncompassionate.”

John said he appreciated how civil the discourse was, but was surprised the animal activists didn’t bring up any specific accusations against his business, despite providing Council members with a handout detailing past USDA breeder violations.

“There was institutional accusations about puppy mills, but Jean didn’t really talk [about my business],” John said. “Why wouldn’t she talk about those three [breeders with violations] she sent to City Council? That really put a question in my mind of what’s up. Why wouldn’t she want that on the record? I was prepared to answer those questions. She’s investigated me enough and doesn’t really have any dirt on me except the three direct violations, because we do what we do and we’re very serious about it.”

Shelter perspective

Steve Serchuk, former board member with the Toledo Area Humane Society, Lucas County Dog Warden Citizens Advisory Council and Humane Ohio, said his biggest concern was that The Family Puppy doesn’t spay or neuter its puppies.

“Those animals are going to have more offspring and ultimately those offspring are going to fall to the nonprofits or the tax-sponsored dog warden,” Serchuk said.

John Dinan, former director of the Toledo Area Humane Society, also spoke in support of the legislation.

“Reputable breeders do not sell dogs through the pet shops,” Dinan said. “That’s just the way it is.”

The bill’s current language would make the retail sale of a companion animal a first-class misdemeanor. There was some talk of that being too steep, but Dinan said he disagreed.

“Since this is regulating a revenue-generating business, if the penalties are not stiff enough then it just becomes a cost of doing business,” Dinan said.

Pam
Pamela01
Group Organizer
Clarkston, MI
Post #: 1,632
Continued.

Family friendly

The Stotteles only sell breeds that have track records of being good family pets and said they strive to help customers succeed. With each sale, they include My Pet Trainer, a 15-month e-course training program, as well as a one-year subscription to on-call behaviorists at the Good Dog Hotline, a 60-day health care plan and a microchip to reunite lost or stolen dogs with their owners.

John said he feels the criticism that pet shops encourage “impulse buys” is unfounded.

“Most people we see have been thinking about getting a dog for a long time. They’ve been looking in the paper, they’ve been talking; they’ve thought about it for days, sometimes months, sometimes years,” said John, who added that the average cost of a puppy is $850.

“When you get a dog from a neighbor or family member, that’s more of an impulse buy. But when you have to plop down $1,000, that’s something you have to think about,” he said.

The Stotteles said paperwork is available for every puppy, including a pedigree, interstate vet certificate, vaccination records, breeder inspection reports and more.

“Any dog that’s out there in the kennel, this is available to you to come in and look at,” John said. “I’m not hiding anything. We’re trying to be as transparent as we possibly can.”

However, during her remarks to Council on Nov. 19, Robinson said she requested records on a puppy during a recent visit to the Toledo shop and was told they could not be found.

Adoption program

The Family Puppy also offers an adoption program. Since 1998, staff have spayed, neutered and placed more than 11,000 puppies and kittens, mainly kittens, the Stotteles said.

“We want shelter animals to get adopted,” Debbie said, noting that each store features a banner that reads “Have you visited your shelter first?” “It’s just that it’s not for everyone.”

John said he wouldn’t be able to run a business selling animals from shelters, as the city proposes.

“There have been stores that have done that and they can’t pay the bills,” he said. “The reality is, as Americans, as Toledo citizens, we have the right to decide if we want to buy a pure-bred dog, a purpose-bred dog. We have the right to do that in America. For them to say that a pet store can only sell from shelters really limits what we can do.

“Some of the things in the proposal says breeders that sell to pet stores might not have exercise, might not have vet oversight, it might help us to adopt more dogs out of shelters and it might help shut down bad breeders,” John said. “It won’t. It’s not going to do what they want it to do. All its going to do is put me out of business.”

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