City-County Council passes measure to restrict retail pet sales

June was among the dogs up for adoption recently at Indianapolis Animal Care Services.

The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday voted unanimously in favor of a proposal that would prohibit most retail sales of cats, dogs and rabbits in the city.

The proposed ordinance now heads to Mayor Joe Hogsett, who has 10 days to consider the measure.

If approved, the local measure could be blocked by possible statewide legislation that is under consideration at the Indiana Statehouse.

Proposal 57, authored by Democratic City-County Council members John Barth and Vice President Zach Adamson, aims to prevent the expansion of puppy mills and reduce overcrowding and understaffing at the city animal shelter. Under the proposal, pet stores wouldn’t be allowed to sell cats, dogs and rabbits unless they were obtained from an animal shelter or a not-for-profit animal-rescue organization and for no more than $500 each.

The legislation was sponsored by Democratic councilors Dan Boots, Jason Larrison and Ali Brown.

The measure was opposed by local puppy retailers, including Uncle Bill’s Pet Centers, but applauded by the state Humane Society and shelter groups.

If approved by the mayor, existing pet stores would have two years to comply with the regulation. If they decide to sell “rescue” animals, they would would be required to keep a record of which shelters or Humane Society chapters the animals were acquired from before they are sold.

The city would be able to fine businesses $500 for first-offense sales violations and for failure to maintain records. The penalty would increase to $750 for subsequent violations within a year.

In committee, Uncle Bill’s Pet Centers CEO Lori Wilson called the proposal “anti-commerce and anti-consumer.”

Uncle Bill’s sells dogs, cats and rabbits at two stores in the city, on West 38th Street and East Washington Street. The locally owned chain has been accused of getting its dogs from puppy mills, a practice owners deny.

At the Statehouse, Senate Bill 134, authored by Blake Doriot, R-Goshen, would prevent cities from enforcing complete bans on the sale of cats and dogs, and would instead require breeders to be recognized by a kennel society. If passed, the state law wouldn’t override local ordinances put in place by at least a dozen Indiana towns or cities prior to Jan. 1, 2023, but it would prevent new measures from going into effect.

The bill was approved by the Senate 29-18 last month and awaits a House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee hearing, which has not been scheduled.

Samantha Morton, director of the Indiana chapter of the Humane Society, said she’s hopeful the state legislation will fail because House Bill 1121, the House version of the legislation, failed to receive a hearing in the same committee.

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10 thoughts on “City-County Council passes measure to restrict retail pet sales

  1. We should care about these animals and stop looking at them as “products”. Anti-commerce and anti-consumer sounds like they are only products to the stores. Our shelters are overrun and usually at capacity with many discarded pets from stores after their owners no longer want them. It’s time to start treating these loyal companions better and stop treating them as commodities to be bought and sold.

  2. Nice over-reach….Our city is turning into a heap under ol’ Joe, but we worry about dogs being sold retail. We have several dogs that came from Uncle Bill’s that are AKC certified and came from reputable breeders. It was our “Choice” to purchase them, and are happy that we did. We don’t speak of all the people that dump their dogs at the humane society, but go after private enterprise. Yeah….that is the solution. Reminds me of the NYC, no large sodas…the citizens are too irresponsible to handle it.

    1. WK, you clearly have not seen any undercover videos that show where animals that are sold in pet stores come from. It’s not usually good. All the breeders and the pet stores care about is making money at the expense of the welfare of the animals.

  3. This is a step in the right direction, excellent! One curiosity: I’m guessing, if a bad actor/retailer is committing fraud, presenting forged or falsified documentation, turning an illegal profit from a misfortune animal; State/Federal “criminal” laws would be enforced, thereby adding to that very tiny $250 loss. I’m deducting the $500 profit from the sale and the $750 fine. Should be a $250 loss each time caught. Unless, prosecuted under criminal law. Am I right?

  4. Crime is out of hand. Murder rate is higher than Chicago. Downtown is foundering. Glad to see the council and Mayor’s office are focused on everything but the things that are important.

    1. Your opinion. Many others, myself included, feel this is important legislation. Doesn’t mean the Council can’t get other tasks accomplished…

    2. I suppose you don’t mind the General Assembly wasting their time on bills to declare the totality unhealthy fried tenderloin the state sandwich, telling women what to do with their bodies, telling parents how to raise their kids and discriminating against entire segments of society.