A bill that would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats in the retail trade, unless they were obtained from a shelter or rescue facility, is considered by the legislator in Olympia.

Opponents and supporters testified to Senate Bill 1640 at a public hearing on 5 February. Some of them were from Puyallup, where the subject is fiercely contested.

"The purpose of this bill is to try and address the situation with puppy mills, where we encounter many unhappy practices," said Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, during the hearing.

The bill would also require pet stores to neuter and sterilize animals before they are sold.

Kayla and Justin Kerr, owners of Puppyland on South Hill, said the bill would harm family businesses like their own.

The Kerrs opened Puppyland at 13103 Meridian Ave. E. in October and only sell puppy's.

"If you restrict the consumer's choice to only save dogs in pet stores, consumers will go elsewhere to get the specific breed, temperament and predictability they want," Kerr said.

Those other places could be Craiglist or PetFinder, adds Kerr, websites that pose a risk to consumers because of the unknown history of animals. Instead, consumers can find a dog that is suitable for pet stores, she said.

In a statement on Facebook, Puppyland wrote that the bill obliges and rescues the sale of dogs and cats from unregulated shelters and forbids the sale of dogs and cats from regulated, approved and controlled breeders & # 39 ;.

Kayla Kerr testified that in 2018 alone, the company generated $ 70,000 sales tax for the state.

"There is clearly a need and a desire for what we offer our community," she said.

Since the opening of Puppyland there have been protests organized outside the building by Ashly Dale, a team leader for Bailing Out Benji, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the puppy mill industry.

Dale testified at the hearing of 5 February in support of the bill and explained how she opposed the practices of local pet stores.

"Pet stores do not have a policy to make sure their puppy goes to a qualified home, they do not have an application procedure and let everyone and everyone buy a puppy," Dale said.

At Puppyland, his practices "are not in the public or puppy's interest", she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Dale said that Puyallup Animal Rescue has taken 604 dogs in the period 2016-2018, and 75 percent of those dogs were puppies. Sunny Sky & # 39; s Animal Rescue has in 2018 alone included more than 800 dogs.

Both Puyallup Animal Rescue and Sunny Sky's Animal Rescue have told The Puyallup Herald that they support the bill.

"The number of dogs and cats euthanised daily in this country is amazing," the Animal Rescue Board of Directors of Sunny Sky said in a statement. "Pet shops are not regulated where their pets come from, they can come from irresponsible breeders or puppy mills that force animals to live in terrible conditions." Sunny Sky "" has received animals from those situations and they have physical state that is dismaying us and breaks our heart, so we are happy to see a bill that raises this situation. "

Dale said that she does not want to remove the right of a consumer to choose or close small businesses.

"We simply want companies to adhere to a humane model and ensure that people get animals from human resources, such as responsible rescues or shelters or even responsible breeders," Dale said.

Kerr said in her testimony that her company follows the rules when it comes to obtaining dogs.

"We get our puppies from USDDA-approved breeders who adhere to strict rules and regulations and have not undergone any direct violations in the last two years," she said.

Other municipalities and states have adopted similar legislation that obliges pet stores to sell only sheltered animals.

Mindy Patterson testified at the hearing and told The Herald that such rules would sideline other pet stores. She is the president and CEO of The Cavalry Group, who wants to protect the rights of animal owners and animal related businesses.

"It turned out to be a complete disaster," Patterson said about legislation in other cities. "It puts pet stores out of the market because they refuse to sell animals from unregulated sources because it puts their consumers at risk."

Puppyland also advertises the financing of puppy's – what Dale & # 39; leasing & # 39; animals. Customers can receive a payment plan

A separate invoice, HB 1476, has been introduced and would prevent these plans. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, February 13.