WELLINGTON, Fla. - Wellington has outlawed the commercial sale of dogs and cats at all pet stores within village limits.
The images can be jarring. "The dogs live in rabbit cages," said ordinance supporter Ron Danta. "They can be stacked fire or six dogs high," he said of life - and sometimes death - in a puppy mill. Danta says it is the heartbreaking reality for too many animals in Florida and beyond.
"This was a prime time to move in and get an ordinance passed in our town," said Lorrie Browne, who spearheaded the initiative.
Browne said now was the time to act because there are currently no such pet stores in Wellington.
"Hopefully we can make it a county-wide ordinance so that these stores aren't welcome and that these people aren't at risk at having these dogs and there's no demand for them," she said.
But the Washington, D.C. based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which backs many in the pet store business, is against the bans.
"They increase the possibility that someone would be driven to an unlicensed breeder or the black market instead of a reputable store," said Mike Bober, PIJAC spokesperson.
Wellington now joins a growing number of municipalities with similar bans on commercial animal sales. Lake Worth, Hallandale Beach, Margate, Lauderdale Lakes and others already have rules in place.
"Other areas will link onto this and this is going to the big step for South Florida," said Danta.
The ordinance passed in Wellington still allows for the sale or adoption of pets from recognized shelters and rescue organizations. The ban pertaining to pet stores takes effect immediately.