Orange County’s ban on the retail sale of puppies and kittens, set to go into effect Wednesday, survived a legal challenge by three pet store owners who argued the new order would put them in jeopardy. bankruptcy.
In a six-page decision, Circuit Judge Vincent Chiu said attorneys for two Orlando franchises Petland and Breeders Pick presented “credible evidence that the order would have a catastrophic effect” on their businesses, but the law also requires him to consider other factors.
“While there may be a fair debate about whether the ordinance is good policy, that debate belongs in the political arena rather than the courtroom, and it is a debate in which this Court has no place,” Chiu said.
The stores asked the judge for an injunction prohibiting the county from enforcing the new rule.
The ban will prohibit all but one store in Orange County from selling puppies.
Chews-A-Puppy in Ocoee is exempt because Ocoee town commissioners voted to opt out of the county ordinance.
Amber Davis, the stores’ lead attorney, was tasked with establishing four legal prongs required for the order, including whether stopping the ban from taking effect would serve a greater public interest. The judge said his arguments fell short of everyone.
Chiu said the stores’ arguments largely focused on their own interests and those of their customers rather than the general public.
He said in the ruling he had a ‘sobering understanding’ of the impact of the ban on stores and their employees, many of whom are likely to lose their jobs, but noted county commissioners acted in the public interest when council made the hard-fought decision. measure, 4-3.
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The judge cited the order which alleged that “most dogs and cats sold in pet stores come from large-scale commercial breeding operations where the health and welfare of the animals are not considered in order to maximize the profits”, a reference to the so-called puppy. mills.
Deputy senior county attorney Elaine Marquardt Asad, who defended the measure, provided evidence that half of the eight pet stores that sell puppies in Orange County get at least some of them from breeders who have committed multiple federal and state violations.
Puppy sales are what keep the stores going, pet shop owners said during the court hearing earlier this month.
Trevor Elizabeth Davies, co-owner of Petland on Semoran Boulevard, said puppies accounted for 72% of his store’s sales.
Ben Hoofnagle, co-owner of Petland in Waterford Lakes, said his store has sold 13,000 puppies over the past five years.
They had argued that the order was an unconstitutional ban, which would punish good businesses that are not the cause of the “puppy mill” problem that the rule aims to solve. The Davies store has been in business for 25 years; Hoofnagle for 18 years; and Breeders Pick for 17 years.