Kitsap County Commissioners passed an ordinance Monday banning the sale of pets from large-scale commercial breeders.
Over 150 public comments were received by the county since a public hearing was held on April 22. County officials made revisions to their proposed amendments based on the public input.
Jennifer Cannon, a policy analyst for Kitsap County, gave a presentation to the commissioners, highlighting the proposed limitations, the goals of the proposed ordinance, and themes from the public comment period.
According to Cannon, citizens were concerned about the documented abuse of puppies and kittens, such as overcrowded cages, over-breeding, inadequate sanitation, lack of veterinary treatment for serious health issues, and lack of socialization. She also claimed that the USDA’s enforcement on this issue has been ineffective and that state regulations don’t adequately address the issue.
“The board has studied this long and hard for many months,” Commissioner Ed Wolfe said. “It’s not just a local issue in Kitsap County, it’s a national issue. I think the USDA should be handling this issue and in my opinion, they haven’t been doing a very good job of handling this issue.”
Nearly 300 local U.S. jurisdictions, including Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island have already adopted regulations preventing pet stores from selling dogs and cats from large-scale breeders. Two states have also adopted these regulations, according to Cannon.
Some of the goals of the ordinance include promoting animal welfare and healthy conditions for puppies and kittens, ensuring that pet buyers have greater access to information regarding their pet’s health, and encouraging best practices and community awareness in the purchasing and breeding of dogs and cats, according to Cannon.
Other goals involve only allowing retail sales of puppies and kittens at commercial pet facilities when obtained from a certified animal welfare organization; requiring enhanced record keeping for hobbyists, commercial pet facilities and animal welfare or an animal welfare organization; no sale of puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old, and improving clarity and consistency of enforcement.
Those opposed of the ordinance cited concerns about lack of consumer choices for dog and cat adoption and unfair treatment of a specific business.
After considering the public comment period, the revised ordinance accommodates retail sales for small-scale hobbyist breeders, when sold at their facilities. Additionally a 180-day grace period for pet store compliance will also be included.
“The point I’m trying to make is that we can try to create the framework to make sure we discourage the more inhumane types of experiences that may be out there,” Commissioner Rob Gelder said. “This is not necessarily an endorsement of hobbyist breeders because I think it really comes down to each and every one of us who is adopting or purchasing an animal needs to do their homework.”
Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.