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On Tuesday, March 2, the Memphis City Council will hold a third and final vote on an ordinance that makes false claims about breeders and would restrict consumer choice when acquiring a pet. Memphis residents are urged to contact city council members and urge a no vote on the pet store ordinance.  Scroll down for contact information.


The ordinance makes a false assumption that professionally-bred dogs sold by retail pet shops are raised in poor conditions. In doing so, it undermines federal pet dealer regulations that work to protect consumers and to advance responsible breeding practices.

Unfortunately, it is a common tactic by proponents of this type of measure to cite questionable statistics and to attempt to portray those who have committed violations as being representative of all dog breeders.  Language in the ordinance quotes wildly inaccurate “estimates” that indicate “10,000 high-volume dog breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills, are producing more than 1,000,000 puppies a year in the country.” However, the United States Department of Agriculture, which regulates commercial dog breeders, licenses only around 2,000 commercial kennels—the vast majority of which are in full compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Every caring person reacts with justifiable anger and concern when a dog is subjected to neglect or abuse. That is why in addition to the federal regulation of commercial dog breeders, every state enforces animal cruelty and abuse laws.  All breeders—along with all dog owners and all pet sellers in Tennessee—are subject to extensive animal neglect and cruelty laws. Egregious violations rise to felony offenses.

By seeking to require retail pet stores to only showcase pets that come from unregulated and random sources, it removes the most regulated and vetted source of pets from the market. Dogs in and from USDA licensed commercial kennels benefit from animal welfare regulations for proper care and veterinary treatment. Pets from these regulated kennels are additionally subject to requirements for safe transport under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The proposed ordinance would also ultimately limit consumers’ freedom of choice by restricting their ability to select a pet in a responsible manner based on the pet’s breed, size, coat type, and temperament traits—characteristics that are the best match for their lifestyle.

What you can do:  Residents with concerns about incorrect claims and restrictions in the proposed ordinance are encouraged to contact their city council members and respectfully request they vote “no” on the pet store ordinance.

The telephone number for the Memphis City Council is 901-636-6786.  City Council member’s email addresses are:

For additional information, please contact or call 919-816-3720.