Any step that is in the direction of working against puppy mills is a step in the right direction and even one small step is something. Harris County in Texas is making a step in the right direction, they have banned the sale of animals along roadsides; county rights-of-way.
From the Houston Chronicle
Harris County is cracking down on dog breeders or distributors who sell puppies along county rights-of-way.
Commissioners Court voted Sept. 25 to prohibit the sale of pets on public land in unincorporated areas. The ban took effect Monday.
Where does that leave residents who station themselves in store parking lots on weekends, selling an array of puppies and kittens?
Joe Stinebaker, a spokesman for County Judge Ed Emmett, said the law is designed to put “puppy mills” out of business. Puppy mills are considered unethical breeders who peddle puppies for profit, often ignoring the health of the animals. The law also aims to reduce the number of dangerous dogs sold.
In Harris County, there are 859,120 dogs, says the American Veterinary Medical Association. These numbers do not include stray animals.
When the dog overpopulation problem peaked in 2003, Dr. Dawn Blackmar, director of Harris County Veterinarian Public Health, knew something had to be done.
“We saw euthanasia numbers go up even though we’d spent hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to inform citizens about spaying and neutering,” said Blackmar.
In addition, the number of people attacked by dogs was on the rise. Last year, in unincorporated Harris County, 1,156 people were bitten by dogs, 259 cases involved pit bulls.
A county task force found the No. 1 issue identified as a major contributor to the escalating number of unwanted animals was dogs being sold from the back of trucks along the roadside and in parking lots in unincorporated areas of Harris County.
“We went to the Legislature to ask for a bill that would ban the sale of all animals along the roads and in parking lots in Harris County,” Blackmar said.
“It’s not just dogs that are a problem. We’ve had calls about people selling horses on the street corner in busy urban subdivisions. There are also people selling chickens and roosters.”
The ban makes it illegal to sell any type of animal on public roads or public rights-of-way in unincorporated Harris County, including shopping center parking lots.
Violators could face a fine of up to $500.
“We may not be able to eliminate unscrupulous animal breeders, but we can certainly eliminate a lot of the profit motive,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “We can also help protect our residents from sick animals and the slick breeders trying to make a buck off of them.”
Not everyone is happy with Harris County’s recent ruling.
Two days before the ban went into effect, Russell Clements and Brenda Roberts of Porter had their pup tent set up in the parking lot of Food City on 1960 in Atascocita.
Clements, a longtime breeder of Labrador retrievers, thinks the decision to curtail sales of puppies stinks.
“It’s a shame they stopped it. For us, it’s just a hobby, not our livelihood,” Clements said. “These puppies are good pedigree dogs. I just love to breed good Labs. I have customers that keep coming back to us.”
Clements produced a thick folder filled with glossy pictures of his award-winning dogs, their pedigree papers and copies of the family tree.
The seven-week-old puppies sell for $350. Clements said he guarantees the health of the animals until they are checked out by a veterinarian.
“I guarantee their hips for two years,” Clements said.
Clements said that his dogs are free to roam on an acre of land in Porter. At night, the puppies sleep comfortably in air-conditioned kennels.
“On Sunday afternoon, we’ve seen a steady stream of people and children who love to come out after church just to pet the puppies,” the dog breeder said.
Clements and his partner say the ban won’t stop them from breeding and selling puppies.
“Other people don’t have the same intentions that we do. We try to produce quality dogs. We do advertise in the paper and the Internet but that’s not as effective as being out here where people can see the dogs for themselves.
“We’ll probably just set up in Montgomery County somewhere,” he said.
To be honest I can’t say that I feel very sorry for these ‘disappointed breeders.’ Reputable breeders so not sell their puppies to just anyone. They take more responsibility than that among other things. That is more like backyard breeders which in many ways are bad too. There are so many dogs and puppies that so desperately needs homes, why all the BYB and puppy millers? They are not needed and they just contribute to the problem!