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Aurora City Council bans sale of most cats and dogs in pet stores

Jun 09, 2023

By Austen Erblat

August 28, 2023 / 8:57 PM / CBS Colorado

The city of Aurora has banned the sale of most cats and dogs in pet stores, despite the city not having had a pet store that sells dogs or cats since 2020.

The city council voted 7-3 Monday in a move that animal rights advocates hope will both send a message to the community, but also ban any future sales, saying a ban will relieve overwhelmed shelters, stop puppy mills and be a good move for public health.

"It shall be unlawful for a pet shop to display, sell, deliver, offer for sale, barter, auction, give away, broker, or otherwise transfer or dispose of a dog or cat, except for a dog or cat obtained from an animal care facility or animal rescue organization," the ordinance reads.

What it doesn't do is ban private individuals or businesses other than pet stores from selling cats or dogs.

A statewide bill to more strictly regulate the sale of animals in pet stores died in a State House subcommittee in 2020.

The public comment portion of Monday's meeting saw impassioned testimony overwhelmingly supporters, but also some critics of the ordinance.

"People ask, 'well why are you worried about an Aurora thing?' well, because it's right next door and the wave of the animal rights activists and the humane society is to pretty much go city to city and pretty much extinguish our business," said Jens Larsen, the owner of Denver Perfect Pets in Centennial. He called claims of animal mistreatment in pet stores such as his a lie and said that if pet sales are banned, it will effectively create a black market where people can buy and sell animals with less oversight.

"I'm in full agreement with this ordinance that will prohibit the resale of the puppies, the kittens, the dogs, the cats, from these puppy mills," said Aurora resident Paula Wilcox. "They should be able to show some authentic proof of where they got these animals and be totally prohibited from any that come from a puppy mill."

Councilmember Curtis Gardner said there are both good and bad pet stores and pet rescues, but said he won't ban businesses in Aurora because of what some bad pet store owners might do, calling it a "slippery slope," which Councilmember Dustin Zvonek agreed with.

"I agree with the intent, but you're still going to have puppy mills, which are much harder to regulate," Zvonek said.

Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky said she was proud to sponsor the ordinance, saying, "some of these 'private breeders' have over 800 dogs in their possession, and let me bring up that there is no actual definition of 'puppy mills,'" and that violations in pet stores go unpunished because enforcement tools are so limited.

"Government has to protect the voiceless," she concluded.

Monday's vote was the second and final vote taken by the city council. The council supported the ordinance on its first vote earlier this month by a vote of 6-2 with one councilmember absent and another abstaining.

Councilmembers Jurinsky, Crystal Murillo, Ruben Medina, Juan Marcano, Françoise Bergan, Alison Coombs and Angela Lawson voted in favor, Councilmembers Zvonek, Gardner and Steve Sundberg voted against it and Mayor Mike Coffman abstained.

Austen Erblat is a digital media producer. The staff at CBS News Colorado is Covering Colorado First. Meet the news team or contact us.

First published on August 28, 2023 / 8:57 PM

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