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April 8, 2019

An ordinance with unclear provisions that could affect hobby breeders and rescue groups is scheduled for a vote by the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, April 9.  Brevard County citizens who are concerned about vague and problematic provisions in the ordinance are encouraged to immediately contact their commissioners.

The ordinance seeks to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet store unless the pet is sourced from an animal shelter, animal rescue organization, “hobby breeder”, or USDA licensed commercial breeder.  However, unclear provisions in the ordinance could potentially cause certain rescue groups and breeders to be considered “pet stores” and could require home-based “hobby breeders” to allow strangers access to their private residences.

A “hobby breeder” would be defined as “any person or entity that causes or allows the breeding of dogs or cats resulting in no more than forty-eight offspring within a 12-month period while permitting consumers access to directly see the condition in which the dogs or cats are bred and raised, or can confer directly with the breeder concerning said conditions.”  This definition would include every person who breeds and sells a single cat or dog.

It is unclear if hobby breeders would be required to allow persons representing themselves as “consumers” access to their homes and private properties.  This could put the safety of a hobby breeder at risk and increase the possibility of disease transmission into areas where pets are housed.  Also of concern,  a criminal could attempt to lure persons by falsely offering a puppy for sale or adoption, because under the unclear provisions of this ordinance, potential puppy buyers could be denied the opportunity to examine a puppy in a neutral setting.

The ordinance further requires that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office shall be entitled to conduct inspection(s) of hobby breeders.  The ordinance contains no guidelines regarding the frequency of inspections or what the scope would include.

The ordinance defines a “pet store” as “any retail establishment that: (1) has obtained a tax receipt, (2) is open to the public, and (3) sells, transfer, or offers for sale or transfer, dogs or cats, regardless of the age of the dog or cat, or the physical location of the animal.  Such an establishment may be a permanent, temporary, or virtual establishment.”  This definition could include certain breeders and rescue organizations, making them subject to regulation as “pet stores”.

The American Kennel Club supports, in principle, legislation that seeks to preserve consumer choice when selecting a pet.  However, the AKC believes this proposal is unclear, overreaching, and could put the safety of local breeders and consumers at risk.

Contact information for Brevard County Commissioners: https://www.brevardfl.gov/CountyCommission/CountyCommissionersHome.

For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or 919-816-3720.

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