Bill set for passage bans local regulation of pet stores

A bill drafted at the request of Petlland, a pet store chain looking to expand franchise operations in Tennessee, includes consumer protection for purchasers of cats and dogs as well as protection of pet sellers from local government regulation.

The bill (SB519) is sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, while opposed by animal advocacy groups. It has cleared committees in both the House and Senate and is scheduled for floor votes in both chambers this week.

From a report appearing in the Commercial Appeal:


The Tennessee Retail Pet Store Consumer Protection Act would allow consumers to return or exchange a pet deemed unfit for purchase by a veterinarian because of illness or a congenital condition. The consumer could recover expenses incurred in the diagnosis at up to 150 percent of the cost of the animal, while leaving local governments with… no oversight in those transactions.

…Massey told the Senate agriculture committee retailers shouldn’t have to deal with a “patchwork” of local ordinances. The bill gives them a single set of rules to follow.

… The legislation was written at the request of a Petland franchisee, who is opening a store in Knoxville with plans for stores in Memphis, Nashville and possibly Chattanooga, said… Marsh.

Petland officials have said that 50 percent of their business comes from pet sales, Marsh said. “He just said I’d like some assurance that I’m not going to have an ordinance put on me that bans selling cats and dogs and I lose 50 percent of my business,” he said.

Similar legislation was passed last year in Ohio, where Petland is based.

Memphis Rep. Antonio Parkinson said he has a problem with state laws that undercut local governments.

“What concerns me also, this individual comes into the state of Tennessee and immediately is able to dictate to every single city in the state as to how they will handle business when it comes to his business,” said Parkinson, a Democrat. “I think that is a bad precedent and a very slippery slope.”

A number of Tennessee cities have ordinances that regulate pets sold in retail stores and this bill would kill them all, said Eric Swafford, Tennessee state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“… (T)o even think that the legislature would consider passing a bill because one company asked them to, taking away local control, is almost mind-blowing. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t believe it,” Swafford said.

6 Responses to Bill set for passage bans local regulation of pet stores

  • David A. Collins says:

    Someone needs to tell Mr. Swafford that stripping local government of authority to make nearly any and all local decisions is the trademark of Tennessee’s Big Government Republican party that presently controls the legislature.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Problems with “local decisions” mostly arise in Tennessee because this is a conservative state with a few jurisdictions controlled by liberals. Unfortunately, all too often the citizens of those jurisdictions find that their liberal local governments are depriving them of freedoms (e.g. property rights, privacy) that a majority of Tennesseans regard as fundamental so they cry out to the legislature for relief.

      If liberals didn’t have such an appetite for freedom depriving government control the legislature and the Beacon Center of Tennessee wouldn’t have to spend so much time trying to restore those freedoms.

      • Jean Harrison says:

        Do Tennesseans consider it a fundamental right to sell puppy mill puppies? I didn’t consider despising animal abuse to be a Democratic or Republican virtue. I assume all of us loathe puppy mills regardless of political leanings. If you have never seen where Petland gets their precious little bundles of joy, you need to educate yourself.

  • Lisa Romero says:

    Humans can’t care for their own children in a Humane manner. There is no way that they will care for purchased pets. Most pet store purchases are done on a whim with no real research or training on how to care for the pet purchased. Then the purchased pet is ignored and often left to die a slow painful death of neglect by not feeding or cleaning the pet and then disposed of quietly in the home garbage can! I oppose pet sales of all kinds! There are not Humane and explote animals just for profit and that in turns causes life on earth to be harsher for Christians and Animal Welfare Advocates! Humans are unfit for themselves. You can not create a humane environment for an animal when it is being mass produced for money. It just is not possible. Animals suffer!

  • Kathleen Dudgeon says:

    Animals should not be sold in theses stores! They are not cared for, the people who are selling the have not taken care of them. They are in it only for the money. They are inbred, with a of problems! When these poor animals get bigger the people that have bought them don’t want them. It leads to so many issues for these poor animals. Dogs and cats should be bought at animal shelters, they are so many that need homes!!! Please do not let these stores sell these poor dogs and cats!!!

  • Susan Hart says:

    I’m somewhat surprised that for-profit retail pet sales are still around as there are so many reputable and caring rescue organizations practically giving away dogs and cats who need good homes. As an animal rescue volunteer and adopter of many, the nonprofit groups that I’ve worked conduct formal interviews with the potential owner, veterinarian, references, and in most cases, do a surprise home inspection before they are approved for adoption. That’s what’s most needed – a statute requiring approval of the human to the animal, not more ways for retailers to make money off them.

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