Proposal: Pet stores in Bloomington can only sell cats and dogs that come from shelters, rescues

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- There's a proposal on the mayor's desk that would not allow Bloomington pet stores to sell dogs and cats, unless the animals come from shelters or rescue organizations.

The city's Animal Control Commission unanimously voted on the idea on Monday. It's chief, Rebecca Warren, said her team has been working on the proposal for almost a year.

"In Bloomington, we love animals and we want to know with confidence, by no accident or mistake of any one person, business or otherwise, that animals coming into our community are sourced from humane conditions," Warren said.

She believes there should be better regulation, enforcement and closing of things like puppy mills. Warren wants to be certain that any animal sold in Bloomington comes from humane conditions.

"It’s just that certainty, that support to clear shelters and keep them empty," she said.

A few minutes away, Karene Kidwell helps run Delilah's Pet Shop. She opened the business about 28 years ago. She is now concerned this proposal could shut the place down.

"I don’t like being grouped with people I don’t think are doing a good job," Kidwell said. "Wouldn’t it be more good for the people to have an option as far as what they buy?"

Kidwell said she she does not buy from brokers. Instead, she gets her animals from individual owners across the state and then resells them. She said she supports people going to shelters to get a pet. Although, she is concerned about how some were raised, especially the older dogs.

"I have never discouraged anyone from going to the pound but I do tell them if you have small children, it is probably your best advice to get a puppy, not an adult," she said.  "Some of those animals are not adoptable because of what happened to them which is highly unfortunate."

Kidwell is still deciding if she will look elsewhere for animals. She is not sure if this move will help shut down puppy mills.

"Instead of yelling at the stores, what they might want to do is shut the puppy mills down," Kidwell said.

Kidwell heard out about the proposal yesterday. Warren admitted the way some found out was unfair and businesses should have heard about it from the commission.

"I would like to welcome an open conversation with them and stakeholders about how we can all be sure the animals that come up for sale or re-homing in our community are not coming from inhumane conditions," Warren said.

Mayor John Hamilton's office said the he was out of town this week and he has not seen the proposal yet. A spokesperson said he will look at it when he returns to work.

St. Joseph County passed a similar ordinance in 2017, according to the executive director of the county's Humane Society.

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