The Carmel City Council on Monday night voted 7-1 to ban the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores even though none are currently doing so within city limits.
Councilor Adam Aasen sponsored the amendment to the city’s animal cruelty ordinance, while Councilor Laura Campbell cast the sole vote against the amendment.
The ordinance previously said pet stores in Carmel could not source their animals from puppy mills, while the amendment goes further by preventing stores from selling cats and dogs altogether. Businesses that violate the ordinance could be fined up to $2,500 per violation or shut down for multiple violations.
Aasen acknowledged there are no pet stores in Carmel that sell cats and dogs. However, he said he wanted to make a proactive move to ensure animals from puppy and kitten mills can’t be sold in Carmel in the future.
“I think it is a much wiser thing to get ahead of an issue rather than to have to take action when you have a current business doing that and you’re facing people losing their jobs and city legal costs,” he said. “This is much cleaner and easier.”
In 2021, Illinois joined California, Maryland, Maine and Washington in banning retail sales of cats and dogs. Approximately 400 cities and towns in 30 states also have similar prohibitions, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
John Troyer, who serves as Northeast Chapter President of the Indiana Council of Animal Welfare, was one of several people who voiced opposition to the amendment at Monday’s meeting. He used Illinois as an example of a place where he said a ban has had unintended consequences.
“We’ve learned from other states that have banned pet stores, and what we deal with when this stuff happens is people hide (their activities) harder,” Troyer said.
Other speakers voiced concerns for the breeding industry. Aasen said nothing will change for breeders in the city and that breeding animals is still allowed. He said pet stores would still be able provide space to rescue organizations for adoptable cats or dogs.
“We have stores that partner with rescues, but no businesses will go out of business,” Aasen said. “Nothing changes in the city of Carmel for any of the breeders.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Carmel City Council member who voted against the ordinance. The member was Laura Campbell, not Sue Finkam.