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Fine for illegal pet store sales, nuisance vehicle enforcement discussed by Colorado Springs City Council

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The possibility of a $500 fine every time a pet store sells a pet from a puppy or kitten mill was debated Monday at a work session of the Colorado Springs City Council.

Councilman Tom Strand is proposing a new ordinance regulating the sale of pets and other animals.

According to the language of the ordinance, the proposed action is necessary because many pet stores across the country sell dogs and cats that are acquired from puppy and kitten mills, and state and federal laws don't provide enough prevention or enforcement.

Such mills are known for inhumane treatment of animals, and living conditions that promote an infection that can be transmitted to humans.

"We just want to make sure we have some kind of control and involvement in the pets that stores sell and people buy," Strand said.

The proposed ordinance requires stores to acquire pets from rescue organizations or licensed breeders, display that fact and have documentation to prove it.

Dustin Haworth's family owns Pet City at the Citadel and Chapel Hills malls --the city's only retail stores that sell pets -- and he defends his treatment of them.

"The claims made that I get my pets from puppy and kitten mills isn't true," he said. "My family has run Pet City for 51 years in town. This ordinance will close Pet City pet shops. It will put 400 Colorado Springs residents out of a job. This will force citizens to leave their city and go somewhere else to get their pets."

The council also heard a 20-minute presentation from Mindi Callison, founder of Bailing Out Benji --a nonprofit puppy mill watchdog group -- who said a third of puppies sold in Colorado Springs stores come from mills.

Some council members expressed concern about the ordinance.

"This seems to be targeting just two stores but doesn't say anything about the backyard breeder who also may be treating pets inhumanely," said Councilman Wayne Williams.

Councilman David Geislinger pointed to what he described as a bigger issue.

"The point isn't how we treat dogs or cats, but how we treat all animals," he said. "This ordinance doesn't address that."

After a 90-minute discussion, the council decided that more study and public input is needed before voting on the matter.

In the morning half of the work session, the council heard a presentation from police about a proposed ordinance to enforce so-called “nuisance vehicles” — primarily involving street racing and drivers who fail to pull over for officers.

Police said that there were more than 1,500 calls for such incidents in 2020, although the number of police pursuits have declined in the past few years.

Increased enforcement, police said, is necessary because speed racing and eluding threaten the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Police also said that speed was a factor in 18 of the city’s record-51 traffic deaths last year, and in 120 non-fatal felony traffic crashes.

The council expects to vote on the ordinance in two weeks.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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