Proposal would ban Indy pet stores from selling dogs, cats, rabbits

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A proposal drafted for the City-County Council would prohibit pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits.

Two City-County councilors are sponsoring the proposed legislation, which was revealed Friday on the city government’s website.

Under the proposal, pet stores may display and provide space for dogs, cats and rabbits available for adoption from the city’s Animal Care Services shelter or animal rescue organizations.

The proposal comes after the Animal Care Services has repeatedly filled to capacity in 2021. As recently as September, free adoptions have been offered from the shelter. Animal Care Services has no shortage of cats and dogs on its Petfinder page.

As reasoning for the pet store prohibition, the legislation notes that “most puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet stores come from large-scale, commercial breeding facilities, where the health and welfare of the animals is disregarded in order to maximize profits.”

The measure also says that “pet stores often mislead consumers as to where the puppies in the stores came from and make false health and behavior guarantees. Many consumers end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in veterinary bills and suffer the heartbreak of having their new pet suffer, and in some cases pass away.”

Another concern, according to the proposal: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pet store puppies pose a health risk in the form of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria called Campylobacter.

Pet stores would be unable to have “any ownership interest” in the animals displayed for adoption if the measure becomes law.

In addition, the proposal says, “No part of any fees associated with the display or adoption of the animals, including but not limited to adoption fees or fees for the provision of space, shall be paid to the host pet shop or to any entity affiliated with or under common ownership with the host pet shop.”

The proposal notes that “the vast majority of pet stores, both large chains and small, family-owned shops, already do not sell dogs and cats but rather profit from selling products, offering services, and in some cases, collaborating with local animal shelters and rescues to host adoption events.”

Indianapolis would not hire pet police for enforcement, but instead would count on its Department of Business and Neighborhood Services to monitor compliance and, if needed, issue $500 fines for a first offense, the proposal said.

Two Democrat councilors, John Barth and Zach Adamson, are the proposal’s sponsors. Barth told News 8 on Friday that the proposal, which was put on the agenda for Monday night’s City-County Council meeting, will be come off the agenda and be proposed again sometime in 2022. Toae Kim, the city’s general counsel, drafted the legislation.