INDIANAPOLIS – A proposal at the Statehouse would stop local governments from banning the sale of dogs at pet stores.
Some cities in Indiana, such as Carmel and Bloomington, have adopted their own ordinances restricting sales of dogs and cats at pet stores. The goal behind such measures is to encourage animal adoptions and crack down on puppy mills.
Carmel recently passed one, banning pet stores from selling cats or dogs.
“When we passed our ordinance in Carmel, not a single common resident contacted me with negative input,” said Councilmember Adam Aasen, who led the effort.
Aasen has spoken out against a proposal at the Statehouse that would stop other towns from enacting similar policies.
Some animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, also oppose the bill.
“These stores don’t need to sell dogs to be successful,” said Samantha Chapman, Indiana state director. “There are plenty of adoptable puppies at shelters and rescues and there are stores across the country, even here in Indiana, that don’t sell dogs.”
Under Senate Bill 134, ordinances already in place could still be enforced. But cities wouldn’t be able to create new ones. Indianapolis is one of those looking to do so.
The Ohio-based pet store chain Petland is pushing for the Statehouse bill.
The company didn’t respond to our requests for an interview but had multiple representatives testify at a committee hearing last month.
“Activists promote and push retail pet sale bans to eliminate mills,” Elizabeth Kunzelman, Petland’s vice president of legislative and public affairs, told lawmakers. “However it remains a fact that activists can’t point to a single puppy mill that was closed because of passage of a ban. Instead, pet store bans actually promote the use of underground pet trading.”
All three authors of the Senate bill declined our requests for interviews.
The House sponsors and other committee members who supported the bill also declined or didn’t respond.
In an email, the bill’s lead author, State Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen), pointed out that the bill requires pet stores to purchase dogs only from breeders that are registered with the state and hold certain certifications.
“Raising the quality of dogs sold in pet stores will reduce the number of puppy mills since there will be more well-bred dogs available for purchase,” Doriot said in an email.
Meanwhile, opponents like State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) argue the state shouldn’t be taking away local control.
“Had the bill been only about setting standards, I would be very supportive of that legislation,” Qaddoura said. “The problem with the legislation, it mixed two ideas. It makes some standards, and then it included local preemption.”
The bill passed the Senate 29-18, with some Republicans joining Democrats in voting against the bill. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.