After grappling with a new animal control ordinance for more than a year, Pasco commissioners voted Tuesday to outlaw the sales of dogs and cats at flea markets.
The new ordinance, which is aimed at cracking down on puppy mills, would require breeders and dealers to maintain detailed records of each animal they sell for a minimum of one year. Any breeder who fails an inspection or violates state law could be forced to surrender his animals.
The vote came two weeks after the abrupt and still unexplained resignation of Animal Services Director John Malley.
Commissioners have previously approved those regulations – but the sales at flea markets has been an issue for the board since it was presented in 2011.
Michele Overbeck, who owns USA Flea Market in Hudson, said her business is more humane than most retail pet stores. She prefers an option that would allow the flea market sales as long as vendors were inspected by animal control officers.
“We’re not saying we want to do illegal stuff,” Overbeck said. “We’re not saying we want to put animals in harm. We want to do this legally with licensed breeders.”
Gloria and Alan Harding have operated the Divas ‘n Dudes pet store at the flea market for seven years. “We’re not a fly-by-night,” Alan Harding said. “We know what we’re doing. We do not do impulse sales.”
Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said the Hardings could keep their flea market booth but would have to conduct sales from their kennel. “They can display the animals at the flea market as long as the transaction doesn’t take place there,” he said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano voted against the ordinance.