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Bill blocking local rules on pet shop sales advances

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PHOENIX — State lawmakers voted Wednesday to permanently block cities and counties from preventing pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs and cats in favor of shelter and rescue dogs.

The 36-23 vote came on a measure billed by supporters as tightening up state laws designed to ensure that pet shops that want to sell purebred animals buy only from breeders who meet federal standards.

SB 1248 says a shop found to have obtained animals from “puppy mills” that don’t meet those standards can be fined and, on a third violation, be blocked from selling commercially bred animals.

Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Glendale, said that is small comfort due to the fact that the more commercially bred dogs and cats that are sold means more animals that have to be destroyed. And he said there is no justification from removing the power of cities and counties to enact their own rules.

The measure, which now requires a final Senate vote, would immediately overturn existing ordinances in Tempe and Phoenix that allow pet shops to sell only rescue and shelter animals. And it would stall efforts to adopt a similar ordinance in Tucson.`

Efforts to block it, though, lost steam when the Humane Society of the United States, which had initially blasted the measure, agreed not to oppose it.

SB 1248 is being driven largely by complaints by Frank Minoe who filed suit after Phoenix adopted its ordinance which affected his Puppies ‘N Love store. He charged in federal court that the local law interfered with interstate commerce, noting that most of the commercial breeders are located in Missouri.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell rejected that contention. Rather than filing an appeal, Minoe took his complaint to the Legislature.

The deal with animal rights groups prohibits pet stores from obtaining animals from breeders not licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They also could not buy from breeders who had been found to violate certain USDA standards.

Foes have called the USDA standards meaningless, citing provisions like one that allows an animal to be kept constantly in a cage which is only six inches larger on all sides than the dog or cat.

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