Legislation sponsored by a lawmaker and longtime veterinarian would establish new pet store standards, while protecting them from ordinances passed at the local level he says could put them out of business.

Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel, a veterinarian of more than 40 years, says it’s a very important, personal issue to him, considering his background and instances where he has seen animals not being treated the way they should. Under the plan laid out in House Bills 5916 and 5917, breeders would be required to supply their U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports to pet stores, in their entirety. Any major violations within the past two years would make it impossible for a breeder to engage in sales to a pet store in Michigan.

With household demand for pets growing every year, Vaupel says more and more consumers turn online or unwittingly to sources like flea markets or unregulated breeders. Some experts believe up to 80% of online advertisements for pets may be fraudulent. He says in addition, when forced to online retailers, consumers often have no recourse if the puppy is unhealthy or not as advertised. The legislation would prevent Michigan pet stores from acquiring dogs from unregulated breeders, sometimes known as “puppy mills”. It also establishes a minimum age at which puppies can be placed up for adoption, ensures all dogs have a certified health certificate from a licensed veterinarian, and requires dogs to be vaccinated and micro-chipped. Vaupel noted pet stores must comply with all local ordinances and regulations but a municipality can’t just arbitrarily ban them.

The legislation also prevents local units of government from enacting or enforcing any ordinance, policy, resolution, or rule that would ban such shops from retail districts. Vaupel said the provision would protect, “responsible breeders and local store owners who pour their hearts and souls into building safe and humane facilities, employ dozens of people and are ingrained in the fabric of local communities across the state.” (JM/JK)