No HB 144 Petland Bill in Georgia

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Re: HB144

We strongly oppose this bill because it will not protect animals, will strip the right of localities to regulate local businesses and manage pet overpopulation, and will undermine existing consumer protection laws and deprive consumers of remedies currently available to them.

·         The “regulations” in this bill have no real world impact on problematic puppy/kitten-selling pet stores in Georgia who will continue operating as they always have at the overwhelming expense of tax payers.

 

·         The bill contains a massive loophole that allows pet stores to continue sourcing puppies/kittens from irresponsible backyard breeders who operate without any oversight from the USDA and large-scale breeders who should be USDA-licensed, but are not.

 

·         This bill allows USDA licensed breeders and brokers, with countless violations of the Animal Welfare Act to sell animals to pet stores in the State of Georgia, as long as the dealer is free of a “direct” violation over the previous two years and a veterinary violation on its most recent inspection report. Most pet stores offering dogs and cats for sale in Georgia have a documented history of obtaining animals from USDA-licensed breeders/brokers that have been cited for egregious violations, and this bill would do nothing to prevent them continuing to do so.   

 

·         This bill contains a loophole that specifically benefits one notorious pet store owner in the state and provides a special exemption to that owner, so that he can continue selling puppies from his own breeding facility, which is state licensed but not USDA-licensed.

 

·         The main purpose of this bill is to take away control from local governments, and in doing so ensure that pet stores that sell puppy mill puppies can continue to do so without any interference from local governments.

 

·         Georgia is currently experiencing a pet overpopulation crisis whereby over 350,000 adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized for lack of a home at a cost of $35 Million Dollars per year.  Local officials have a duty to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly. In cities where taxpayers fund shelters that house and euthanize healthy, adoptable dogs, it is illogical to allow the local pet store to import dogs from large-scale commercial breeding facilities. This bill prevents localities from tackling pet overpopulation and saving taxpayer money. 

·         Local officials have a duty to protect constituents from deception. Pet stores claim all puppies are healthy, but pet store puppies are often sick because they are born into deplorable conditions, taken from their mothers too early, and exposed to a wide range of diseases. This bill prevents localities from protecting consumers from ending up with a sick puppy and spending thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, on top of the inflated price of the puppy and, in many cases, large payments that accompany predatory lending schemes.

 

·         Petland, the primary backer of this bill, is using this bill to legitimize its own business model which the public no longer supports. Petland is an outlier in its own industry. The largest and most successful pet store chains do not sell commercially raised puppies. In fact, of the top 25 pet retailers in the country, only one—Petland—sells puppies. Rather than convert to a more humane business model, Petland is seeking protection from state legislators.  Petland is also willfully violating a court order to continue selling commercially raised puppies in Sarasota, FL. A company openly defying the law should not be granted favors by the legislature.

 

·         This bill will prohibit consumers from exercising legal rights and remedies available to them under existing state law. 



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