Court ruling on Phoenix retail pet sale ordinance

The long anticipated court decision regarding the city of Phoenix ordinance that would ban retail sales of dogs and cats in stores unless they came from animal shelters or nonprofit rescues was decided on July 29th, when a federal court upheld the ordinance.  While this is a blow to the pet industry and pet welfare, this decision did shed some serious light on the high number of dogs trafficked in Maricopa County and Arizona.  The court ruling by U.S.District Court Judge David Campbell exposed a lot of truths about the impact retail pet sales has on municipalities not only in Phoenix, but other areas of the country as well.

It was revealed that one store, Puppies N'Love, owned by Frank and Vicki Mineo, sold 500 puppies a year out of 23,000 sold in Maricopa County per year.  This amounts to 2.2 percent of the total dog market for Maricopa county - or taken on a state-wide basis, 1.2 percent of dogs sold.  

When Frank and Vicki Mineo were confronted with this ordinance, they challenged this new law and got an injunction, keeping the ordinance from taking effect until it could be decided in a court of law through discovery.  In his ruling, Judge Campbell  described Puppies N’ Love as ‘an exemplary pet store’ that ‘avoids buying from puppy mills and works hard to ensure that its puppies have been raised in a humane and caring environment, but also stated that there was little doubt the burden of the ordinance would fall hard on the pet store.  However, he also noted, that the ordinance did not step across constitutional commerce clause lines.

Campbell’s court ruling also outlined how many dogs and other animals were taken into Maricopa County-run animal shelters and how many ended up being put down.  Court documents found that last year county animal shelters took in more than 38,200 animals, with 34,000 of those being dogs. The county found homes for close to 11,400 of those dogs, returned  4,200 to owners and transferred to 12,100 to rescue group and no-kill organizations and euthanized around 10,200 dogs.

One cannot help but wonder why retail pet sales, which accounts for a fraction of a percent of dogs being marketed in this country is taking the "heat" and while the retail rescue and dog trafficking business is booming.  Hopefully, Mr. Mineo will appeal this ridiculous court decision.  This flies in the face of small businesses everywhere and the right to free commerce.

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