By Jillian Carapella | February 17, 2016

Tempe Council approves ordinance to help end animal cruelty through unethical dog breeders

Jillian Carapella is a sophomore journalism student at Arizona State University. Her primary interests are business journalism and public relations, and hopes to one day live and work in New York City.

Tempe City Council unanimously approved an ordinance this Thursday prohibiting animals to be obtained by unethical breeders.

Around 40 valley residents attended the council meeting to voice their passionate approval and disapproval for this issue; some so passionate that Mayor Mark Mitchell had to remind the audience to be respectful toward everyone.

The ordinance had an approximate 3:1 approval among residents who voiced opinions on the matter, most telling heartfelt stories of cruel neglect they’ve witnessed from questionable breeders.

55-year-old Phoenix resident Sherrie Buzby spoke dynamically in front of the council, painting a verbal picture of what it’s like to walk inside of a puppy mill.

“There’s no picture that can describe being in a puppy mill,” said Buzby. “The abuse was so extreme that the animals didn’t even have a name; they had no value of any kind but a financial gain.”

According to Councilwoman Lauren Kuby, Tempe is now the 120th city in the U.S. to pass this ordinance, calling this decision “the right side of history.”

The new legislation states that puppies can only be obtained from an animal shelter, nonprofit humane society or nonprofit animal rescue foundation, with violation resulting in a penalty of up to $500.

“I’m super excited that our government works,” said Buzby. “It gives me great encouragement to keep fighting for what I believe.”

Some attendees believe that not only are puppy mills unethical, but they also increase the problem of canine overpopulation. According to Councilwoman Kuby, Arizona even has the second highest euthanasia rate in the U.S.

While the majority of residents were thrilled about the result of the ordinance, others were emotional for opposite reasons.

“(Tempe City Council) should’ve done their homework to properly investigate the situation instead of just writing an outright ban,” Animal Healthcare Supervisor for pet stores, Animal Kingdom and Puppies n Love, Michelle Braun said. “I get to meet those dogs, and in no way are they from a puppy mill.”

Braun was not alone in her stance. Others employed by these companies also claimed the pet stores are ethical. A Puppies n Love customer even brought his dog to the meeting to demonstrate how the store’s puppies are in no way sickly.

Despite this, the council had reviewed data prior to the meeting and determined that “USDA standards which govern these facilities, appear to be substandard and inadequately enforced, and that commercial breeders do not meet commonly recognized national best practices for breeding standards,” according to the ordinance.

“We want to make sure our animals are humane, and the city should do the right thing,” said Councilman Joel Navarro.

Several attendees also believed the lack of transparency among these pet stores proved to be an issue. Councilwoman Kuby even pointed out how there are no set standards for these stores, and sufficient and adequate care doesn’t demonstrate high enough ideals.

“Once you’re exposed from this information you can’t just walk away from it,” said Buzby. “Something had to be done.”