The Bloomington City Council debated placing restrictions on local pet shops to prohibit the sale of cats and dogs Nov 17. The council also heard a presentation from the department of Planning and Transportation updating the city’s progress regarding the 2018 Comprehensive Plan initiative.
Local Pet Shop Restrictions
Councilmembers Susan Sandberg, Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Dave Rollo co-sponsored the ordinance which would prohibit local pet stores from selling cats and dogs. If passed, the law would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023, to allow businesses time to adjust.
The proposed change would only affect two Bloomington pet shops: Anthony’s Pets in College Mall and Delilah’s Pet Shop on West Third Street. If the legislation were to pass and these shops continued to sell these animals, they could face a $500 penalty for each pet sold. Local PetSmart and Petco stores are unlikely to be affected since their corporate policies already restrict cat and dog sales.
This change is to discourage the commercial breeding of cats and dogs known as “puppy/kitty mills,” according to council documents. These facilities often ignore the needs of both the parent animals and their offspring in order to maximize the production volume and subsequent profits, said Samanta Morton, Indiana State Director at the Humane Society of the United States. Prohibiting the local pet store sales of these animals would decrease the demand for puppy and kitty mill animals, she said.
“The animals are not getting humane treatment,” Morton said. “They're often in stack cages, there's also issues with a lack of socialization.”
While puppy mills are more prevalent than kitty mills, Morton said both are still a widespread issue, especially in Indiana. After hearing a presentation from Piedmont-Smith, many councilmembers supported the initiative, but some members are worried about any indirect effects of the legislation.
Councilmember Matt Flaherty said he is concerned this change may encourage pet scams or drive the industry underground, though he is against puppy mills. He asked both the ordinance sponsors and Morton if they knew what percentage of pet store dog and cat sales are pets that originate from these mills.
“We know that most animals that are sold in pet stores are coming from puppies and kitten mills,” Morton said.
Councilmembers are expected to pass this ordinance in their next meeting Dec. 1 at 6:30pm.
Planning and Transportation
Four city officials from the Planning and Transportation Department gave updates regarding the goals of the comprehensive plan, which is Bloomington’s long-range plan for use and development of land within city limits.
Keegan Gulick, Zoning and Long Range Planner, detailed updates regarding household income and education levels. According to the 2019 American Community Survey, income inequality in Bloomington has reduced, he said.
Planning Services Manager Beth Rosenbarger explained the progress the city made in greenhouse gas emission reduction and city transportation reports. Some councilmembers drew attention to the fluctuations in daily miles travelled of vehicles in Bloomington between 2018 and 2020.
“It's tied to economic well-being and that, when the nation as a whole is doing better, people drive more,” Rosenbarger said. “My guess for COVID would be that eventually people started going places anyway, that people started going on trips, that eventually people will return to work.”