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Ordinance to prohibit pet sales withdrawn for second time

By Staff | Dec 5, 2018

Some members of the Cape Coral City Council have grown rather impatient regarding a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the sale of cats and dogs in the city.

Monday, at the regular meeting of the City Council at City Hall, the ordinance was once again withdrawn so it can be reworked and, perhaps, narrowed in scope before being brought forward sometime early next year.

The ordinance was originally brought forward in October, but was pulled then for the same reason.

Councilmember Rick Williams asked at the start of the meeting to again withdraw the ordinance, which brought an immediate rebuke from Councilmembers John Carioscia and John Gunter.

“How much can we kick this can down the road? People who want to talk about this should be here,” Carioscia said, referring to the few people who came to speak on its behalf, presumably because they knew the ordinance would be withdrawn.

“This is the second time this has come up in front of great media attention. We need to move forward on this,” Gunter said. “If fine-tuning is needed, we should talk about it.”

During discussion, Joann Elardo, president of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter, said they needed to better evaluate the ordinance and that those who were to speak on it didn’t come because it was assumed the matter would again be postponed.

Charlie Myers, who has bred dogs for decades, said he heard and saw what they did with animals at greyhound tracks and puppy mills.

“My friend told me how, in puppy mills, they have a puppy that doesn’t look like it should, (and) they euthanize it. It sickened me,” Myers said. “I never put down a dog.”

Myers added this is not a city government issue and that such an ordinance won’t stop the “puppy mill” problem. Williams disagreed, but conceded that much work still has to be done.

“When I took this ordinance on, I thought it would be a slam dunk. This is the toughest ordinance I have ever done,” Williams said before asking for the measure to be postponed a week.

Carioscia didn’t think it would work.

“The issue is enforcement. People will just go over the bridge to get a pet. We need to lobby at the county and state level. Are we going to ban breeders, too?” Carioscia said.

Mayor Joe Coviello agreed the ordinance wouldn’t solve the bigger problem, adding that he has a problem legislating what businesses can and can’t do.

“I don’t want to regulate business. I don’t want to be in the middle of this issue,” Coviello said before telling Elardo, “I don’t tell you how to run your business.”

City Attorney Dolores Menendez said the problem is that the ordinance, as written, was still too broad and was only designed to ban the sale of cats and dogs, not those that come from “mills.”

“What’s the rush? Let’s kill this bill and come back with something relevant to puppy mills,” Coviello said.

“We have two issues, puppy mills and buying pets at pet stores. I don’t think it’s fair if someone wants a particular breed. People should have that choice,” Councilmember David Stokes said, adding he got his dog from a local shelter.

Council then voted 7-0 to withdraw and rework the ordinance.

Currently, only one pet store in the city sells pets.

Big box stores, such as Pet Smart, do not sell cats or dogs but do work with area shelters offering adoptions.