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Petland Sues Sarasota County Over Dog, Cat Sales Ban


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Petland Sarasota has filed a lawsuit challenging a Sarasota County, Fla., ban on the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs.

The lawsuit filed late last month argues the rules are unconstitutional and unlawfully limit sales to local breeders, despite any findings that area pet stores like Petland have treated animals inhumanely or buy from suspect breeders.

The county’s ordinance, approved in January, is designed to eliminate the local sale of animals brought in from so-called “puppy mills” or “kitten factories” by prohibiting any new retail pet stores from selling animals that have not been bred or raised where they are being sold.

The new rule outlaws traditional retail pet stores and set a deadline for existing commercial pet stores to cease their cat and dog sales by Jan. 27.

Petland’s lawsuit is asking a 12th Circuit Court judge to overturn the county’s ordinance as unconstitutional and inconsistent with state law, or for the county to compensate Petland for eliminating its property rights to sell the animals.

Sarasota County has not yet formally responded to the complaint in court.

Petland plans to issue a news release describing its reasoning behind the case as soon as it is available, said attorney Thomas Shults, who is representing the store.

At the center of much of the disagreement, the rule’s exception for so-called “hobby breeders,” is designed to allow local breeders who breed or rear animals in Sarasota County and meet existing zoning codes to continue to operate.

Petland’s lawsuit argues thatthe definition of “rear” allows anyone who qualifies as a hobby breeder to buy animals from elsewhere and raise them on their property for sale, potentially circumventing the prohibition on commercially bred animals.

“The ordinance attempts to address and extraterritorial concern about dog and cat breeding facilities, while at the same time not only permitting the location and operation of such facilities within the county, but also making the owners of such facilities the only and exclusive lawful retail sellers of dogs and cats,” the lawsuit contends.

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