Councilwoman wants to make outdoor pet sales illegal

Monday, December 28, 2009 at 12:26am

Dogs, cats and other domestic animals could not legally be sold or given away outdoors if an ordinance under consideration by the Metro Council gets approved.

Councilwoman Karen Bennett — the bill’s sponsor who represents the Inglewood neighborhood — said entranceways to businesses like the Kroger on Gallatin Road serve as hotbeds for makeshift puppy shops operated by individuals who lack pet care expertise.

Intentions by the operators aren’t necessarily bad, Bennett said, but the absence of proper veterinarian attention means some dogs may often be sold carrying diseases and ailments that could go untreated — disorders such as parvo, a viral disease that attacks a dog’s digestive system.

“Unknowing individuals just purchase them or take them for free and they have medical issues that they don’t realize,” said Bennett, an owner of six rescued dogs herself who volunteers for various animal rescue organizations. “You can receive a pet that is very ill but you have no clue that they’re sick.”

Bennett’s bill would make it illegal to display pets in any outdoor public space, defined in the legislation as “streets, roads, highways, thoroughfares, intersections, sidewalks, public right-of-ways and parking lots.”

Nonprofit organizations which primarily conduct pet adoptions would not be affected by the bill.

Metro Codes, Metro Police and Metro Animal Care and Control could enforce the law, which would not prevent Nashvillians from selling pets from their own place of residence or business.

The ordinance cleared its first Council reading earlier this month and is slated for its second review in January.

“It’s just an extremely important issue, “Bennett said. “Pets need their vaccinations. They need their medical work done and it’s always important to spay and neuter.”

Right now, Metro mandates individuals carry a vendor’s permit when selling pets, but the prevailing thought among most animal experts is that some individuals sell without appropriate documentation.

“Generally, you’re not going to find a reputable breeder that is selling their pets on the sides of the road,” said Mary Pat Boatfield, executive director of the Nashville Humane Association. “That’s not the way you develop a relationship with a new home. It’s not the way that you provide information and education on a particular breed of dog.”

Boatfield, who supports the bill, said she’s stopped to talk with outdoor vendors –– outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Gallatin, for example –– and discovered they don’t always operate to the highest level of business ethics.

“Some of them mean well,” she said. “They had a litter and it was a lot harder than they thought to sell those puppies, or they didn’t have the revenue to put an ad in the paper… In other cases, monetary gain was their primary motivation.”

The problem is compounded, she said, because outdoor pet vendors are hard to track down, making it next to impossible for dog and cat owners to track their pet’s medical history.

19 Comments on this post:

By: callmeshelby on 12/28/09 at 6:35

So let me see if I understand what she is trying to correct.
1. You don't know medically what is wrong with the dog. You don't if you purchase a dog through paper or a business.
2. There is a law that requires a vendor license. Yet, she agrees this is not enforced.
3. Some of the vendors that sell outside don't have the highest business ethics. Again, if you allow someone to sell from their home / newspaper or business doesn't mean that you will get someone with better ethics.

So we are going to pass another law that will do nothing for the bottom line. It seems to me those that gave away the pets or sold them are doing a service to the community. Now more will be left for Metro pound to deal with, which of course means more money out of the taxpayers pockets.

Why are they wasting time with bills like these?

By: Capiscan on 12/28/09 at 7:51

I'd like to answer the points made by CallmeShelby:

1. If you buy a dog through the paper or a business, you have a place or person to go back can run their name by the BBB, etc. When you buy a dog or cat through an outdoor vendor, you have nothing.

2. I agree enforcing the vendor licensing laws would be the biggest help.

3. Also correct; however, again you have some one to go back to (and sue if necessary).

4. Many of these pets will end up at the pound or in a rescue since they were impulse purchases . . . especially if they have medical or behavioral problems.

What we really need is a mandatory spay/neuter law.

By: peashootr on 12/28/09 at 8:12

Its just another politician out of touch and wanting to leave her name on something on capital hill. There are legitimate animal breeders that will sell dogs with diseases like parvo and you'll never know. Its another form of government control over YOU. They should be focusing on helping the poor and not waisting millions on animals.

By: Alphadog7 on 12/28/09 at 8:41

Sounds like a good law to me, it strengthens the current permit requirement mandate.... BUT if the current permit mandate isn't being enforced, what makes us think this one will be? Council needs to do something about that.

Nashville, and especially East Nashville, seems to have an enforcement problem with minor crime issues as it is. I wish city council would not only pass these laws, but find a way to make sure they are enforced. They were passed by the will of the people through our body of elected officials, yet the police seem to decide wether they actually can or want to enforce it. Maybe its resources? Maybe they are too busy? I don't know...

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/28/09 at 8:47

Alpha, I agree that lack of enforcement is a big part of the issue.

By: HighlyAnnoyed on 12/28/09 at 9:00

Buying and selling pets on the side of the road is the most irresponsible method there is. I wonder how many of the sellers are running puppy mills. I support this bill. But, even if it got passed, it wouldn't be enforced like most animal welfare laws. The police don't care about things like this. Many cops would just as soon shoot your dog as to look at it. So, what help do you think they will really be? If the people that own the property these scumbags are selling pets on would just run them off that would do more good than anything.

By: girliegirl on 12/28/09 at 9:36

To Capiscan... "mandatory" spay/neuter? really? Don't forget there are folks out there that would like to apply that rule to your parents.(ah, too late now) My point is this: there are those of us with 2 pound Chihuahuas. "Mandatory" surgical procedures can have fatal outcomes. Not all pets survive that procedure. (I'm speaking from experience) I do however, subscribe to the procedure should Metro find and capture your pet while it's on the lam. :-) And yes, I bought my babies from ads in the newspaper.

As for the puppy mill scenario... they are all around this state! Nearly every phone number posted that has a 931 area code will direct the caller to those sellers. I've tried them all out personally, and kept them in a database while shopping for my own dogs. The "dog factories" have several ads posted for many different breeds, and they're using cell numbers to hide their identity. I know because I called them, just out of curiosity. Creepy, huh?

By: localboy on 12/28/09 at 10:03

Another law is unnecessary - enforce those on the books to curtail this massive threat.
The real crime here is that we cannot find enough other issues to occupy the councilperson's limited time and resources.

By: karman37206 on 12/28/09 at 11:16

That's a place to start , but come on...put a little more thought behind this bill. Try and find a way to deal with people who are irresponsible in caring for their pets...chained with no food and water! Also, if there were more regulations regarding spaying and neutering, a lot of these people wouldn't be out there trying to unload unwanted pets.

So don't just bring something up that will get you a little name something that will REALLY help the animals. Another bill that is nothing more than a "dog and pony show" on the council floor is a waste of our time!!

By: DustyU on 12/28/09 at 12:05

Another proposed law by a politician that wants to control everybody else.
Enforcement of existing laws would solve the problem.
A business license can provide the necessary information to locate the seller if there is a problem, presupposing the buyer is smart enough to get that info at the time of sale.


By: wataboutbob on 12/28/09 at 1:06

I agree with banning the unlicensed selling of pets on the street but feel it would be a bad idea to try to prevent those families with unwanted litters from giving them away on the street or in front of stores, for the sake of the animals.
Without this option I believe many of the kittens and puppies could end up abandon or thown into dumpsters.

By: WayneJ on 12/28/09 at 1:24

Replying in agreement to Alphadog7 and Blanketnazi2:

Enforcement of the existing regulations, much less anything that might be added through this proposal, won't happen as long as those responsible for RASREP (Ronal A. Serpas Revenue Enhancement Program), namely the current mayor and police chief, are at their posts. Once Dean and Serpas are gone, maybe a refocused police department focused more on serving and protecting (as compared to seeing how many traffic citations they can write) can make this a reality. Here's also hoping the funding needed to make such a department a reality won't be swallowed up by the Music City Cashcow so many people seem to be committed to building at all costs, especially the taxpayers'. Bennett's bill is a good idea but unenforceable with the current administration deciding what's important for Nashville and what doesn't matter.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/28/09 at 1:49

Wayne, unfortunately these laws were not enforced prior to Serpas and Dean.

By: Capiscan on 12/28/09 at 6:06


Do we know each other? Or do you get your jollies insulting strangers on the internet? I thought so.

By: xhexx on 12/28/09 at 6:40

How about this scenario. Person's dog has puppies, they can't sell them so they take them to Walmart or Kroger and set up in the parking lot. Make that illegal and they'll just kill the puppies or desert them and allow them to starve to death.
Yeah, that's so much better than what we have now. How do these idiots get elected to the council?

By: peashootr on 12/29/09 at 8:22

would you rather have the police chasing robbers, murderers, rapest and thieves or somebody selling dogs?

By: PoloPony on 12/29/09 at 4:08

Let me get this straight...This Bennett lady wants legislation to keep people from selling or giving away litters of baby kitties and doggies to families going shopping at places like Walmart. She's wasting her time doing this when there are people running dog fighting rings and cock fighting rings, and those who senselessly abuse and kill animals for the fun of it. It seems to me that she wants to pick on the little people who are trying to give some little animals a home and is afraid to go after the heavyweights who abuse and kill animals. Ms. Bennett's time and energy could be better spent organizing a power unit to go after and take down the real criminals! Are you a Councilperson or not? Get off your butt and become a mover and shaker or give up your council seat to somebody with a bigger pair.

By: cashnthings on 12/29/09 at 9:08

Sound like council women Bennett needs to spend more time fighting the convention center and less time worrying about people selling cats and dogs.

By: Hiro on 12/30/09 at 2:32

I strongly support this legislation. As a volunteer at a local animal rescue I have had several encounters with the people selling puppies on side of the road. It is common for new puppy to be in poor health and not make it to the veterinarian and if they do, they may have so many health problems the new owner can’t afford to treat them. I personally rescued a puppy that was left in a retail parking lot on Gallatin Road. The puppy was 6 months old and had mange and was unsellable. The breeder left him in the parking lot. After much cost to the rescue and time to train the puppy the rescue managed to get him healthy and placed in a worthy home. If you want a pet, your best option is to go to the shelter or rescue. Using shelters or rescues will give animals good homes and will reduce impulse buying which leads to buyer’s remorse. At shelters or rescues you are required to make a donation for adoption, if you can’t afford the donation then you probably can’t afford a pet additionally, if a person decides after adoption that they do not want the animal they can return it to the shelter or rescue . Any unwanted animals should be taken there first. They then should be spay/neuter to prevent additional animals and placed with responsible owners. There are currently countless numbers of loose animals running around unwanted and uncared for. Any measures that can be taken to reduce the amount of animals in this situation will be a compassionate and save tax payers money.