The Vista City Council voted 3-2 last night in favor of a pro-active pet store ordinance, with Councilmember Cody Campbell stating he just wished to avoid having a legal problem such as has occurred in the neighboring city of Oceanside.
“It’s an important issue that we [can] address before we have a problem,” Campbell stated, further pointing out that the city of Oceanside is having to spend money in their current legal challenges as they contend with, to use Campbell’s words, “an obstinate business that is operating unlawfully.”
Regulation of Retail Pet Stores
After pro and con public comments were heard, Mayor Judy Ritter called on the council for remarks, and Campbell addressed his colleagues. First thanking staff for their work on the “excellent” ordinance language, Campbell stated that “[a]s you know I brought this issue forward because it is an issue that we don’t currently have in the city, but it’s an important issue that we [can] address before we have a problem.” Oceanside was mentioned by Campbell, and he stated flatly to his colleagues that “[w]e don’t want that here in the city of Vista,” said Campbell.
He then made a motion to adopt the staff’s ordinance recommendation.
Deputy Mayor John Aguilera seconded, but before doing so he had some explaining he wanted to do, he stated. Even though he had originally been “against this ordinance,” Aguilera said that after hearing the many speakers he has “gone to the other side on this one.” While this remark brought forth applause from many persons attending, the Deputy Mayor wanted to explain his reasons for the change.
“The euthanizing statistic is a big one. I think Vista, north county in general, has a lot of stray animals. And, you know, people sometimes just don’t take care of them. I hate to see that, and I know what the fate is for that animal, you know, one way or the other. I think that’s one good reason to take a look at this.” In discussions with people, he realized also that some of the breeders might not be paying income tax, because they “kind of go under the radar.” In addition, they most likely would not be paying for a business license, and even though Aguilera admitted it was “an assumption,” as a business person himself he believes that some folks might think that if they could “get away with it” they will.
Rigby schools colleagues
Councilmember Amanda Rigby also thanked everyone for their passion in speaking out, but then launched into a report of her own investigation into the issue. In the further review of the matter, Rigby learned that San Diego County is a “no kill county and we do not euthanize animals” here she was told when she asked about it. Just this last summer, in fact, San Diego finally reached 100% of its “no-kill” goal she had been informed after three years of effort to place even animals with behavior issues.
Also, only “four percent” of dogs and cats in the county are actually purchased as pets from pet stores, Rigby reported, and that means 96% are not from pet stores, but rather come from breeders, rescue or shelters. Rigby said then that “education and outreach” on the issue has been “quite successful.”
“This industry is regulated and it is licensed,” she told her colleagues. “And I’m just not sure that I want to go down a road where we’re going to regulate an industry that we don’t even have here in Vista. I think that’s ineffective government. So, for those reasons I’m going to have to vote no on this one.”
Franklin against puppymills
In his remarks, Councilmember John Franklin stated he was “so in agreement” with everyone who came to speak about ending the practice of puppymills. “But I’m also concerned. We have passed many unenforceable ordinances,” Franklin said. Passing a law to prevent someone from doing business, he believes, is an issue for him.
He agreed with remarks from speaker Tom Fleming, he stated. “We create so many layers of regulation, and it’s really out of frustration that we’re not able to stop people from doing bad things,” said Franklin. “And I’m not sure that creating one more layer of regulation, which will frustrate the honest person, the ethical person, the animal lover …. I’m not sure that frustrating that person is truly going to stop the … puppymills.”
Campbell, Ritter and Aguilera voted for the ordinance, Franklin and Rigby voted against. According to the City report, there is “no direct fiscal impact” associated with the ordinance. “If a certificate of source is required, and a retail pet store within Vista began to offer dogs and cats for sale, staff resources would be required to perform compliance inspections on occasion. The cost of those inspections would be determined at that time.”