Sunrise plans to join crackdown on puppy mills, pet stores

Sunrise may jump on the anti-puppy mill bandwagon and become the sixth city in Broward County to embrace a law that aims to protect customers from buying sick dogs.

"These are farms where hundreds of animals are raised in conditions where they may have illnesses that are latent or unseen," Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan said Tuesday while pitching the plan to commissioners.

Sunrise commissioners did not vote on the proposal, but directed staff to draft an ordinance that would restrict pet stores to selling animals from shelters, rescue groups and humane societies. Hobby breeders would be allowed to sell directly to the public.

Cities across the nation, from Los Angeles to Chicago and Phoenix, have passed similar laws.


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The trend is gaining momentum in South Florida, with cities like Hallandale Beach, Margate, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Wilton Manors, Wellington and Lake Worth following suit.

Davie leaders are poised to take a final vote on a similar law April 16.

Michele Lazarow, a Hallandale Beach commissioner behind the effort, praised Sunrise for stepping up.

"Sunrise is taking a stand by protecting their residents and protecting animals," she said. "This is the lead for all other cities to follow. The only ones who don't support this ordinance are those who profit from the industry."

Lazarow bought a sick puppy 10 years ago from Puppy Palace in Hollywood.

"Ten years later, the store is still open and continues to sell sick puppies to the public," she said. "The puppy mill industry peddles sick puppies to unsuspecting consumers. Good luck suing and good luck trying to get your money back."

Sunrise has one puppy store.

Lazarow urged Sunrise officials to move quickly, before more can open.

"Florida has more puppy stores than anywhere in the country," she said. "And we have more sick puppy complaints than anywhere in the country."

Commissioner Neil Kerch thanked Lazarow for championing the cause.

"As cities pass these new laws, stores might start [coming here]," he said. "It might be something we want to put on the front burner rather than the back burner."

sbryan@tribune.com or 954-356-4554