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Louisville Metro Council passes ban on retail dog and cat sales

city Hall
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville Metro Council's ban on retail sales of dogs and cats will go into effect late next year.

Metro Council members voted 21-3 for the legislation, which bans dog and cat sales at pet stores and from vendors in public and outdoor spaces.

The ban will take effect a year from now. Until then, the ordinance also requires pet stores to display the contact information of their dogs’ and cats’ breeders.

It doesn’t prohibit pet stores from partnering with adoption or rescue agencies to offer animals and doesn’t impact online sales.

Breeders would also still be able to directly sell dogs and cats in Louisville.

City law currently allows pet stores and other vendors to sell dogs, cats and ferrets if they have a license, which costs $300 a year.

Adam Hamilton, an Animal Control Supervisor at Louisville Metro Animal Services, said last week that four organizations in Louisville have those licenses, but not all of them use them to sell dogs and cats.

On Thursday evening, Metro Council members deliberated for more than an hour on the ordinance and a proposed amendment that would have loosened its restrictions.

Stuart Benson, a District 20 Republican, introduced the measure more than a month ago. During the meeting, he said he disagreed with adding exceptions.

“There’s just too many people that just aren’t doing the right thing,” Benson said. “These animals don’t need to suffer.”

Supporters of retail bans argue that pet stores source their animals from unethical breeders, including large-scale puppy mills, which leads to unhealthier pets.

Andrew Owen, a District 9 Democrat, cosponsored the ordinance and argued that it would make it harder for unethical breeders to operate.

“If puppy mills don’t have a place in which they can sell their animals, then the number of animals being bred by puppy mills goes down,” Owen said.

Other lawmakers argued that regulations should target companies engaging in bad practices, rather than impacting all businesses.

Republican Council Members Kevin Kramer and Anthony Piagentini, who represent Districts 11 and 19, offered an amendment to the ordinance.

It would’ve allowed pet stores to continue selling dogs and cats, but banned sales at outdoor and public spaces. It also would’ve given the city wider power to revoke a store’s license.

“We regulate industries all the time. There is space for the government to do that,” Piagentini said.

However, during Thursday’s meeting, council members voted 13-10 against that amendment after a round of heated discussion.

Louisville is the third Kentucky city to prohibit dog and cat sales. Elizabethtown and Radcliff passed retail bans in the past two years, while Shepherdsville is considering a similar ordinance.

Petland, a national retailer, and Puppygram, a smaller chain that operates in Louisville, oppose the ordinance.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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