By Andrea Cordle
Last year, Grove City council passed legislation to restrict the sale of companion animals in the city. At the Jan. 17 meeting, council voted to repeal that legislation with a 3-1 vote.
The repeal comes after Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 331 into law at the end of 2016. The bill states that the regulation of pet stores is a statewide matter that requires statewide regulation. The bill overrides any local ordinance.
According to the state law, a retailer can sell companion animals that come from an animal shelter, a rescue group, a humane society or a qualified breeder. A qualified breeder can be a private breeder or a high volume breeder licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Grove City councilman Ted Berry voted against the city’s repeal of the law.
“This law affects only one company,” said Berry. “There is no other company in the state that sells dogs from high volume breeders.”
Berry sponsored the initial legislation to restrict the sale of companion animals in the city after Petland applied for and received a special use permit to sell puppies at its London-Groveport Road location. Berry, as well as many animal activists, believe Petland obtains their puppies from high volume breeders, also known as puppy mills.
Petland officials maintain that they only sell dogs that they receive from USDA qualified, and regulated breeders.
Berry also tried to get council on board with a zoning amendment that would address the sale of animals in Grove City.
In order to sell animals in the city, one has to apply for a special use permit through the zoning code. An ordinance Berry sponsored asked council to only allow future businesses to sell pets that come from an animal shelter or rescue group.
According to Stephen Smith, law director for the city, the ordinance would not allow the normal sale of cats or dogs. It would instead encourage a shelter model.
Smith said this does not go against the state law because the state legislation did not affect zoning codes.
“This would not affect already operating business,” said Smith.
Berry said basically the ordinance tells potential business owners that selling companion animals for profit is not something the city encourages or prefers.
Not all council members agreed with the legislation.
Councilman Steve Bennett said he is not against the intent of the bill, but believes the city is going down the wrong road.
“We are again writing legislation that has nothing to do with nothing,” said Bennett. “It will have no impact.”
Bennett and councilman Roby Schottke voted against the measure, while Berry and Jeff Davis voted for it. With a tie vote, the ordinance was defeated.