Puppy mills and overly political proclamation language came before the Vista City Council last night as separate issues being examined by elected officials who are looking to write legal language tailored specifically to the needs of Vista constituents and covering the concerns of city officials as well.
In the first discussion, the council heard from the public regarding the proposal to ban retail pet stores in Vista.
“As my council colleagues here are aware,” said Campbell who also later mentioned that he has worked in the local Pet store about ten years ago, “I requested this item be put on the agenda by the city manager several weeks ago at the request of many of you here in the audience tonight.”
Campbell stated that he wanted to provide “a sound framework to prohibit the sales of dogs and cats that come from puppy mills” that while they may meet the regulations of agencies at the federal level, they perhaps “don’t meet our moral standards” here in Vista.
“Fortunately,” Campbell continued, “we do not have pet stores that currently sell dogs or cats in Vista.” But there are communities surrounding Vista, and the councilman stated if no ordinance would be enacted soon, Vista might become “a safe haven” for those types of businesses coming into the community if nothing is enacted soon.
Oceanside was mentioned. “Trying to ban the business after they’re already in your community is a very difficult and potentially costly issue,” Campbell told his colleagues. So he introduced an ordinance with two options so the other councilmembers might begin to examine the language for the ban he is seeking for Vista.
Public speakers then spoke, many saying they were happy to see the council discussing this issue and “being responsive to your constituents.” The first speaker urged the council to ban the retail selling of cats and dogs, identifying herself and her husband as people who greatly care about each animal and organizations seeking to place them into “loving homes.”
The next speaker identified herself as Linda Martino, a hobby breeder here in Vista for years. “I not only would not buy a kitten from a pet store,” she said, “I would never, ever sell one.” Additionally, Martino told the council that “no reputable breeder sells to pet stores.” She suggested Vista might look to Encinitas as example of what ordinance to model.
Preferring to use the word “adopt” rather than “sell,” the local breeder stated she believed the language should be “clean” and did take issue with some of the exemptions cited in the language being offered.
Laurie Michaels followed as a dog-boarding business owner and home owner here in Vista. “We have such a huge dog overpopulation of not only mixed breeds but beautiful pure-bred dogs as well. I want to encourage you not only to pass a ban on puppy mill pet stores, but please don’t allow non-commercial breeders to sell their dogs to pet stores either.”
She believes “the only responsible thing” is to just allow businesses that arrange pet adoptions for rescued dogs, suggesting perhaps that people feel intimidated at pet rescue shelters. “…they simply won’t go because it’s too heart-breaking for them.”
Mayor Judy Ritter got laughs when she said she is “a dog person” and then suggested she has a sort of rescue dog. “My kids went to Japan, and they left their dog with me.”
She did ask how a person could actually find a reputable breeder and how would non-commercial people sell their puppies if the council did not go with the exemption for them?
“Responsible breeders are not hard to find,” said Dale Bartlett, of the Humane Society of the United States. He directed the Mayor to the AKC (AmericanKennelClub) website for lists of reputable breeders. But he said “it essentially comes down to ‘Go there.'”
If you take time to visit and see how they are raising their dogs, Bartlett continued, and it is in line with your own standards, it should be fine.
“It’s the mega-breeders that are supplying the pet shops,” Bartlett stated. The Mayor asked Bartlett what a family might do if faced with the situation of a surprise pregnancy for their pets. “If you have a litter of puppies and you want to sell some of them, ….”
In response, Bartlett said it would be “very rare that a pet shop would try and sell those puppies anyway.”
In the end, after much discussion, the council opted to continue working on the language and ideas suitable for Vista and return for discussion.
Councilman John Franklin stated that he did have an issue with his signature being utilized for “political points of view” which were sometimes being espoused in the city proclamations and with which he does not agree. He did not wish to have his signature attached to such things with which he might disagree.
The Mayor stated she sees it differently. Franklin sees a dozen that may be a problem on the list supplied from Ally Zimmerman. The Mayor wondered what if three signed and one did not.
“Just for a second put yourself in my shoes,” Franklin stated. “If you found something in a proclamation to be inconsistent with your personal or moral values or particular political beliefs, and your signature has been affixed in advance without your knowledge or consent, that you find objectionable.”
City Manager Patrick Johnson suggested to the council and the Mayor that city staff could scan and identify policy issues, so it is clear to staff, and then if council so desires, it can be brought back for resolution.
Following more discussion, the City Manager suggested if council members had any objection to any item they could let him know and he would review it with them or leave the council member’s name off of the individual proclamation so it wouldn’t be announced to everyone in the world.
Councilman Franklin said he liked the idea and moved to adopt the suggestion but he would reserve the “right to annoy you with my thoughts or remarks on this….”