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Orange County Board of Commissioners taking on puppy mills in next meeting, including one in Apopka

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By Mickenzie Hannon, Interning Correspondent for The Apopka Voice

After residents voiced concerns, and two Apopka City Commissioners lent their support to the cause, the Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) will readdress imposing regulations on local puppy mills in a presentation during its meeting tomorrow at 9am.

Puppy mills are retail pet stores that purchase puppies from large, commercial breeders and become agents to an industry rampant with animal mistreatment and abuse.

Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker explained that “mass production without the quality of care” is what lends to the puppy mill classification.

“Within that supply chain, there is a lot of proven mistreatment of the animal, doing the bare minimum to meet federal and state guidelines on how the puppies are treated,” Becker said.

The Humane Society of the United States is leading the fight for more regulations, specifically in Orange County, where “17 of the dealers are in HSUS’s annual Horrible Hundred puppy mill reports that list breeders with especially egregious welfare records.”

The BOCC will decide whether to enforce a ban on selling puppies in a retail environment (puppy mills) or a ban that allows existing stores to continue operating.

According to Health Services Department Director Yolanda Martínez, “Grandfathered stores will also be asked to register with the County and follow a series of requirements related to sourcing (i.e., from USDA certified breeders, etc.), reporting, vet care, etc. as a way of ensuring county residents are able to purchase healthier dogs.”

The current Animal Services Ordinance is applied county-wide, so the regulations would impact all puppy mills and retail stores in Orange County if passed.

The cities of Belle Isle, Edgewood, and Winter Park have approved advancing puppy mill and retail store regulations.

During the Apopka City Council meeting Wednesday, City Administrator Edward Bass listed Our Pet World, located at 380 Semoran Commerce Place, as one of the puppy mills within Apopka.

Becker expressed support for the ordinance and regulations, as did Apopka City Commissioner Alexander H. Smith.

“Grandfathering in” the pet retail stores, according to Becker, would give those puppy mills “the green light to sell puppies through the normal supply chain: one that is high volume and the quality of care is not up to the standards that, say, a private breeder might subscribe to.”

According to data provided by The Humane Society, only 4% of Americans obtain pets from pet stores, which means the ordinance would not largely impact the pet supply business. As a result, The Humane Society proposed an alternative to the grandfather clause that allows puppy mills to shift their business model to one that focuses on products and services, which dominates the $103 billion pet store industry.

The BOCC will meet Tuesday, May 11th, at 9am and discuss potential regulations. Participants can virtually attend the meeting on Orange TV through your television, on Channel 488 on Spectrum, Channel 9 on Comcast, 1081 CenturyLink Prism TV, and 10.2 Digital Over the Air.

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