|Bluff overlooking Harbor Springs, MI, Janie Jenkins|
Emmet County’s resort community leads animal welfare efforts
by prohibiting all animal sales, including online pet retail sales.
On January 6, 2020, Harbor Springs became the first city in Michigan to prohibit all animal sales and the fourth city to restrict online retailers in an effort to protect animals bred on commercial pet farms, otherwise known as "pet mills". Small dog and cat breeders operating on a permit may still sell directly to the public only if the animals are bred and reared on the premises
Link to City Council Meeting video. The Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal starts at 12:39 minutes.
Co-founder of Stop Online Puppy Mills, Janie Jenkins, grew up in Harbor Springs and is an active member in the quaint waterfront community. Last fall, she reached out to Mayor Matt Bugera for support of the Humane Pet Acquisition Ordinance -- a model ordinance drafted by the Macomb County Animal Control Department for Michigan municipalities seeking to protect puppies, kittens, rabbits, ferrets, long-lived birds and large-reptiles in the cruel pet trade.
The City of Harbor Springs tweaked the ordinance to further restrict all animal sales. The ordinance reads:
“No person or business entity, including a pet shop, …
shall offer for sale live animals or reptiles, including
but not limited to dogs, cats, rabbits or birds…”
but not limited to dogs, cats, rabbits or birds…”
“Since Harbor Springs currently had no stores that sell dogs, cats or live animals, and never has, and the community is very supportive of the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, I thought this would be an ideal time to consider the ordinance,” said Jenkins. “I am very thankful to the city for being proactive.”
Michigan is cracking down on online pet sellers
In 2015, Eastpointe became the first city to restrict pet retail sales, including online retail sales. Fraser and New Baltimore also passed similar pet retail bans.
Online retail sellers are individuals posing as breeders. They buy from breeders or leverage the commercial pipelines furnished with brokers and transports operations. As brick and mortar puppy stores close, there has been an increase in online consumer fraud, with respect to the sourcing, origin and health of the puppies for sale.
Just like pet stores with store fronts, online retail sellers may have multiple breeds for sale, misleading websites and offer mostly 8-week-old puppies. Many use multiple online accounts, names and phone numbers.
|The intent is to assist local municipalities in protecting |
families who may unknowingly purchase pets online
from sellers posing as local breeders.
In 2019, a couple selling puppies online in Livonia were charged with animal neglected. The investigation revealed they were sourcing from an unknown broker, used multiple aliases, met buyers in parking lots, and were able to sell a dozen puppies in just two weeks. With little regulatory oversight many online sellers can easily skip the vaccination requirements established by the state for Pet Shops. In the Livonia case, the couple would take just one puppy from a litter to a veterinary clinic for vaccinations and falsify the remaining records for the rest of the litter. This resulted in multiple cases of sick puppies being sold and cost families heartbreak and expense.
Last year, the Michigan Attorney General, issued a Consumer Alert regarding “puppy scams” encompassing all types of sellers. The alert outlines what to look for when dealing directly with a breeder:
• Misleading websites, including websites that have very large numbers of puppies for sale but claim to have screened all their breeders.
• Brokers posing as small family breeders.
• Breeders who will not allow you to visit their property and offer to meet you at a “convenient” public location, or who will only show you the front of the property and not the areas where the animals are kept.
Michigan’s Humane Business Model
Thousands of independent pet stores, such as the Pet Pantry located in Harbor Springs, as well as, large chain pet stores, operate profitably with business models focused on the sale of pet services and supplies and not on the sale of dogs and cats. Many stores collaborate with local animal shelter and rescue organizations to offer space and support for showcasing adoptable homeless pets on their premises. In 2012, more than 100 Michigan pet supply stores took a pledge to not sell dogs or cats.
Residents can adopt companion animals from local area shelters, such as, Little Traverse Bay Humane Society and certified foster-based rescues, including rabbits, birds, chinchillas, ferrets and reptiles.
Harbor Springs now joins the 350 municipalities across the US who have adopted similar ordinances.
Washtenaw, Kent, and Macomb Counties have adopted resolutions to support the Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal urging all communities, with or without existing retail sellers, to adopt the ordinance closing the door to commercial pet farms.
If you would like to pass a similar ordinance in your hometown, please contact me at email@example.com