New Salt Lake County ordinance aims to eliminate crowded animal shelters

Posted at 10:49 PM, Oct 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-07 09:34:38-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- A new Salt Lake County ordinance aims to eliminate crowded numbers in animal shelters, and put puppy mills out of business.

With a 6-1 vote Tuesday, Salt Lake County Council passed an ordinance, which states all dogs, cats and rabbits sold by commercial businesses must come from local animal shelters.

The ordinance reads:

"Any person to display, offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, give away, transfer, or sell any live dog, cat, or rabbit in any pet shop, retail business, or other commercial animal establishment located in the County, unless the dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained from an animal shelter."

- 8.03.035 Sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at commercial animal establishments.

Local animal advocates are in support of the new ordinance.

"This has been a long time coming," said Deann Shepherd, Director of Marketing and Communications with the Humane Society of Utah.  "We don't need to manufacture any more, we need to find homes for the [pets] we already have."

Shepherd contends local shelters are crowded because of a trickle-down affect process. She believes that irresponsible animal breeders and puppy mills have produced a large number of dogs, cats and rabbits that are not spayed or neutered.

As a result, those animals have repopulated and drove up numbers.

"Animals that come from shelters are spayed and neutered," Shepherd points out.

The passing of the county ordinance applies to Unincorporated Salt Lake County, but at the moment, doesn't impact the multiple other cities in the County.

That could soon change.

"This is a great initiative," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.  "What we hope is that other cities will look and consider adopting a similar approach."

However, not everyone agrees.

"I was a little bit shocked," said Todd Poulson, owner of Mark's Ark Pet Store in Taylorsville.

Paulson said nearly 20 percent of his profit comes from selling dogs, cats and rabbits. Some of his animals come from local shelters, but not all of them.

Paulson said pet store owners are being vilified unfairly.

"I try to get as many rescue animals as I can," Poulson points out. "We are trying to be a part of the solution and I think they are painting us with a pretty broad stroke by saying that all pet stores sell puppy mill puppies."

The ordinance is scheduled to take effect 15 days from the ordinance's passing.