Michigan bill aims to prohibit sale of dogs, cats, rabbits in pet stores | News, Sports, Jobs

Michigan bill aims to prohibit sale of dogs, cats, rabbits in pet stores |  News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Karma is a Fish employee Brieanna Frehling holds a rabbit that is for sale at the pet store in Alpena. A new law proposed in Lansing would end the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores to help end the pipeline between them and breeders. The Alpena store does not sell dogs or cats, and purchases its rabbits from 4-H members.

ALPENA — A recently introduced bill in the Michigan Legislature could eventually make the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores illegal.

State Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) introduced House Bill 4838 last week, which she says, if it becomes law, will break supply lines between puppy mills and pet stores, and aid local animal shelters that are often near or over capacity.

State Rep. Cam Cavitt, (R-Cheboygan) who represents Northeast Michigan, said he has concerns about the proposed bill and doubts it has enough support to pass.

Tsernoglou said the intention behind the bill was to help clamp down on puppy mills that breed dogs that are in high demand for high prices. She said the mills are often unsanitary and, on many occasions, the dogs are unhealthy and require new owners to spend a lot of money on vet bills, or force them to surrender the animals because they can’t care for them.

“The goal is to end the pipeline between puppy mills and pet stores and cut off the market,” she said. “Many times the animals have illnesses, genetic defects and are just unhealthy because of the conditions at the mills.”

Cavitt said the law would hurt small businesses and have little impact on breeders because much of their business is done online where people can look at pictures of the animals, review pricing, and set up plans to acquire a dog or cat.

“Most people go directly to breeders on the internet, but shops that sell dogs or cats can hurt and even go out of business,” Cavitt said. “This law does not address the source of the problem which is the puppy mills. It only punishes the stores.”

Tsernoglou said only a small percentage of pet stores in the state would be impacted because very few sell dogs and cats. She said simple tweaks to their business practices would allow them to remain profitable.

“There are only 18 stores that even sell cats and dogs,” he said. “Some partners with shelters to showcase and adopt animals, which is fine, but those 18 would have to update their business model to sell more items like supplies, toys, food, or other services and they’ll be ok.”

Karma is a fish, a pet store in Alpena, does not sell dogs and cats, but more often than not has rabbits for sale. Owner Shelly Adamski said she is not in favor of the bill because even though they don’t sell dogs or cats, the store sells many rabbits.

She believes that the puppy mills need to be regulated more tightly, but overall, the bill goes too far. Adamski said if the store was forced to stop selling rabbits, a local youth non-profit group would suffer.

“We buy all of our rabbits from 4-H and from the kids,” she said. “I would have to imagine that it would have a negative impact on them and the organization of Karma is a Fish or others were unable to buy from them to sell.”

Tsernoglou said the House sent the bill to the Government Operations Committee where she said hopefully there will be a hearing on it and eventually a recommendation for a vote. She said 31 organizations and numerous others have called or submitted correspondence expressing support for the law.

Still, she said, there is more work to do before there is a vote.

“I’m hopeful it can move forward and become law, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he said. “We need to increase public awareness and educate people on the bill and about the impact these mills have on animals.”

Cavitt said the prospects of the bill becoming law are low. He said being referred to the Government Operations Committee is often a death sentence for a bill that doesn’t have the support to move forward.

“This bill doesn’t really have any legs and it is not expected to go anywhere,” he said. “The Gov-Op committee is where bills go to die. I can honestly say I have not received one phone call from anyone who thinks this is a big issue and who supports this.”

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