Puppies and kittens are a big draw at pet stores. Their cuteness draws customers in and helps pet store owners make money. However, that may not be the case in the future. A state task force is holding the first of two public hearings on Wednesday on whether to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.
No such ban exists in any other state. Previous bills to limit the sale of these animals have failed in the state legislature. Co-sponsor Republican State Representative Brenda Kupchick of Fairfield said the task force was created to research the issue, and to offer recommendations to the legislature.
There are 130 pet stores in Connecticut, but only 16 sell cats and dogs. Kupchick said the big issue is where the animals come from. She said, "A large percentage of puppies that are sold in Connecticut pet stores are coming from puppy mills that have a lot of USDA violations."
This kind of ban affects small business owners. That's why the national trade association for breeders and pet retailers is voicing opposition. Charlie Sewell is the Executive Vice President of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, and a member of the state task force. He said the ban does nothing to solve the issue of pets that come from bad breeders. He said, "Putting legitimate businesses that acquire their pets from good breeders out of business and denying consumers choice, that makes no sense."
Soule said less than two percent of breeders have USDA violations. But supporters of a ban, like Kupchick, say that federal and state oversight over the origin and condition of the animals is limited, at best.
The partial government shutdown prevents WNPR from speaking to the USDA or accessing its website.
Wednesday's public hearing takes place in the board room of the Fairfield Public Schools Central Office at 7:00 pm. Another hearing will be held next month at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.