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Santa Maria pet shop ordinance debate

It’s an emotional issue on the Central Coast with passionate debate on all sides, how best to deal with chronic overpopulation of local animal shelters.

Many support and encourage pet adoptions while others suggest banning pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless they come from rescue groups.

The Santa Maria City Council was asked to consider such an ordinance Tuesday night as other cities and counties in southern California have already done including the City of Los Angeles.

Among the most popular places in the Santa Maria Town Center mall is the Animal Kingdom Pet Shop.

The store keeps puppies for an average of six days before they are sold.

“Pets have really changed in the 21 years that we’ve been in business”, says Animal Kingdom owner Adam Tipton, “at one point they were kind of thought of as something extra, now its definitely they are a family member.”

Tipton, some of his employees and his customers tried to convince the Santa Maria City Council Tuesday night that any ordinance restricting or regulating the retail sale of pets is a bad idea.

“On the internet there’s too many scams, too many people being taken advantage of, we hear stories at least weekly of an elderly person who loses their money because they were looking for a pet online”, Tipton says.

His supporters say pet stores provide an important place for people to find a pet as do animal shelters that provide rescue adoptions.

“Our concern is with too much government regulation it would definitely change how our employees and our customers can find a new pet”, Tipton says.

“I personally am of the opinion that we should be adopting animals that are in shelters, says local resident Carlos Chavez, “especially older dogs who are the ones that get overlooked.”

“They are kept in a kennel, they are basically just used for breeding purposes, not to mention the evolutionary effects that happen on dogs”, Chavez says about so-called puppy mills that cater to pet shops , “you’re breeding for just one purpose, whether its size, color, hair etc, you’re really limiting the genetic variation the animal is getting, you’re stopping the evolutionary process.”

Others believe the true bottom line behind the problem of pet overpopulation is responsible ownership.

“Any time I found a pet, acquired a pet, especially a dog, they were always spayed and neutered and I would just take care of them, care for them”, adds local resident Cynthia Davison, “especially the cats which have many litters in a year, i just think that I have to do this because I don’t want this to get out of control.”

The Santa Maria City Council decided to take up the issue of a proposed local pet shop ordinance sometime next year.

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