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Tomorrow, September 27, 2016, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will vote on proposed amendments to the county’s animal control ordinance. The provisions of the ordinance will be applicable to all incorporated and unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County, unless a municipal exemption applies.

Although the proposal includes some positive provisions, the American Kennel Club strongly believes that it is not in the best interest of dogs, dog owners, consumer protection, or public health to ban future “pet dealers” (which would include certain individuals who sell even a single pet) and retailers who sell pets from inspected and approved sources. The proposed ordinance also would exempt humane societies, private animal nonprofit organizations, and “animal rescue organizations” from compliance with equal standards of care as required of pet dealers and pet stores.

  • Under the proposed ordinance, a person who sells a single dog or cat for use as a pet, but who does not engage in breeding, would be regulated a “pet dealer” and subject to extensive requirements.  No new pet store or “pet dealer” commercial operating licenses would be issued. Hobby breeders and commercial breeders would remain regulated under existing law. This would limit future sale of pets from known and federally regulated sources; remove available Florida state consumer protections from many new pet owners; and legislatively establish lower standards of care and vaccination requirements for pets in the possession of or transferred by humane societies, private animal nonprofit organizations, and “animal rescue organizations”.
  • An “animal rescue organization”—defined as “any organization engaged in housing dogs or cats in the County for the purposes of adoption”—would be exempted from the definition of “pet dealer” and the animal care requirements thereto. There would be no requirement that an “animal rescue organization” must be incorporated as a nonprofit.
  • “Adoption” would be defined as “the transfer of ownership of an unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animal by a shelter, humane society, private nonprofit animal organization or animal rescue organization to an adoptive owner. The term adoption does not include the sale of an animal for profit.”  This definition does not address how it would be established or documented that the “sale” of an animal is or is not for profit, or if an “animal rescue organization” is engaging in a sale by receiving compensation or charging an adoption or donation fee.
  • New, broader definitions of “animal rescue organization” and “adoption” could result in the real and dangerous possibility that an individual or entity could traffic in, transfer, and sell pets acquired from unknown and unregulated sources under the guise of an “animal rescue organization”, and further could be exempted from the animal care requirements that would apply to “pet dealers”.
    • The AKC strongly believes that pets in the care of and/or transferred by humane societies, private animal nonprofit organizations, and animal rescue organizations should not be subjected to lower standards of care and vaccination requirements than those in the care of or acquired from pet stores and “pet dealers”.
  • Under this proposal: “No humane society, private animal nonprofit organization or animal rescue organization shall provide compensation directly or indirectly to any breeder, pet dealer or other source in exchange for a cat or dog.” Under this provision, a government-operated animal care and control facility is not prohibited from buying dogs and cats. 
  • The proposed ordinance would strike a specific exemption for hobby breeders that is stated in current law. Existing section 4-23(a)(2) states that it shall not be interpreted to require a hobby breeder to obtain an operating permit as an animal establishment. Under the proposed ordinance, “hobby breeder” would be deleted from this statement of interpretation. This could potentially allow the interpretation that hobby breeders, in addition to obtaining a hobby breeder permit, must also obtain a permit to operate as a “kennel” or animal establishment, and thereby be subject to extensive regulations, facility engineering requirements, additional fees, reporting, zoning restrictions, and other requirements. 

Pet owners and hobby breeders in Palm Beach County are urged to contact members of the Board of County Commissioners to express their concerns and respectfully ask commissioners to vote “no” on the proposed ordinance or to address these concerns before advancing the proposal. 

Additional amendments could be added to the proposed ordinance prior to the final vote. The agenda for the commission meeting, with links to the proposed ordinance, is available online at http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/agenda.htm.  

Concerned pet owners are also encouraged to attend the meeting to express their concerns.

Board of County Commissioners Meeting
September 27, 2016
9:00 a.m.
Palm Beach County Robert Weisman Governmental Center
Jane M. Thompson Memorial Chambers, 6th Floor
301 N Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

The meeting starts at 9:00. Public discussion of agenda items starts at 9:30 (immediately after a vote on consent items).

Members of the public are encouraged to speak. They should arrive before 9:00 a.m. to fill out comment cards indicating on which items they wish to comment or speak. The animal ordinance is item 4-B2. Comments are generally limited to 3 minutes per speaker. More information:  http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/agenda/general_rules.htm.

Please contact the County Agenda Coordinator at (561) 355-3229 for additional information about how to participate in the meeting.

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

Tomorrow, September 27, 2016, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will vote on proposed amendments to the county’s animal control ordinance. The provisions of the ordinance will be applicable to all incorporated and unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County, unless a municipal exemption applies.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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