Columbus council approves pet store restrictions

Columbus City Council gave its first approval this week to an ordinance change that bans the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at stores in the city, but that came over concerns brought up by two council members.

The change was requested by Columbus Animal Care Services.

Head of the city’s animal shelter, Nicohl Birdwell- Goodin explains that the city wants to discourage puppy mills or other commercial breeding operations:

The change would mean that pet stores could not sell, barter, auction, or give away dogs, cats, and rabbits. However, those stores can work with Animal Care Services or other rescue groups to assist with those groups’ adoption efforts, provided the store has no ownership in the animals up for adoption, and is not charging the city agency or groups a fee.

Violating the ordinance would mean a fine of up to $500 for each animal involved.

Republicans Frank Miller and Tim Shuffett said that they agreed with the concept that local pet stores should not be selling those animals, but they had concerns about the proposed changes. Shuffett said he was concerned that because of the COVID-19 restrictions causing a virtual meeting, that the meeting was not as open as it could be so they could gather the full public opinion on the proposal.

Miller said that he thought the change was unnecessary because businesses were already choosing not to sell animals. Instead, pet stores make money selling supplies, he said, citing a recent article.

The council passed the first reading of the ordinance 4-2, with Councilman Dave Bush absent. It should return before the council at the next meeting for a second and final consideration.