A local legislator is looking to fix language in his proposed bill regarding pet stores and local government oversight, due to “confusing” wording that may have led to misinterpretations.

State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township, a veterinarian of more than 40 years, recently proposed a pair of bills that would establish new pet store standards, while protecting them from ordinances passed at the local level he says could put them out of business. House Bills 5916 and 5917 address each issue respectively. But Vaupel says HB 5917 was originally written in a way that caused some confusion, prompting him to propose changes to its wording for better understanding.

The bill first used the term “regulate” when stating local government could not enforce overbearing rules on pet stores, which some thought meant removing control from the overseeing body. Several groups, including the Michigan Humane Society and the ASPCA, had voiced opposition to the bill. Vaupel has since moved to amend the term to “arbitrarily ban” to indicate government does have control when regulating the business, but cannot simply ban pet stores. Vaupel says in amending the bill, he wants to make it clear that pet stores must abide by all zoning and nuisance ordinances in a community, as they are USDA licensed businesses that are inspected by the state’s Department of Agriculture and therefore subject to a municipality’s standards.

Vaupel says his bills have been portrayed in a way that suggests the allowance of puppy mills, which he says “couldn’t be further from the truth.” The bills would in fact disallow puppy mills by requiring pet stores to obtain the animals from reputable places, in addition to having the necessary vaccinations, health certificates, and guarantee that they are free from genetic and congenital disease as far as a person can determine.

Vaupel has said the issue is personal to him, considering his background and instances where he has seen animals not being treated the way they should. (DK)