Last summer, Cherokee County banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. Supporters said it would benefit animal shelters and deal a blow to shady puppy mills that, they insist, often supply such stores.
Cobb might be next.
Cobb Commissioners will consider banning the “sale, barter, auction, give away or otherwise transfer” of dogs and cats at county pet stores at upcoming hearings regarding proposed amendments to the county code.
But impact would be limited if the ordinance were passed.
“I believe we only have one store in the county that currently (sells dogs and cats),” county spokesman Ross Cavitt said.
Every January, the Board of Commissioners considers a number of changes to the county code. Such changes can be proposed by at least two commissioners or county staff.
North Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, a proponent of adoption drives, said she was unsure who brought the proposal forward. Jessica Guinn, director of the county's community development department, said the 2020 code amendments were brought forward by the relevant departments.
Birrell and west Cobb Commissioner Keli Gambrill said the amendment is backed by people who are concerned about pet stores' sale of dogs that come from so-called "puppy mills," breeders that prioritize profit over their dogs' well-being.
Birrell said she had yet to decide whether she would support the measure, citing the fact that pet stores are regulated not by the county but the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
"I'm still meeting with our legal counsel that drafted the code and the animal services director and our public safety interim director to kind of see what we can and can't do legally, what their recommendation is, and we'll be hearing from the public at the two hearings."
But Gambrill said it wouldn't tackle the root cause of the issue: shady puppy mills breeding unhealthy dogs.
"If the issue is breeders breeding animals that are not healthy, we need to be addressing the issue with the breeders, the puppy mill(s), not the entities that sell them," she said.
Under the proposal, pet stores will still be allowed to provide “space and appropriate care for dogs and cats owned by (Cobb County Animal Services), a rescue group (licensed), an animal care facility, or an animal rescue organization for the purpose of promoting public adoption” so long as the store does not have “any ownership interest in the dogs and cats offered for adoption and shall not receive a fee for providing (the) space.”
Commissioners will consider proposed changes to the code on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and at a second hearing Feb. 11 at 9 a.m.
Should they approve the ban, any pet stores that currently sell dogs or cats will have 90 days to stop doing so. Violators will be subject to a fine of $1,000 per animal sold.
Commissioners will also consider codifying the county's practice of releasing feral cats that are caught and spayed or neutered.
"While it's all well and good to try and catch every single cat and bring them to the animal services," said county Chairman Mike Boyce, "that’s just simply not going to happen. ... We’ve been doing it, I think, informally, but I think we want to put it down somewhere where everybody understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing it."