A recommendation to ban pet stores from selling dogs and cats from breeders was approved by the Wichita Animal Control Advisory Board on Wednesday.
Council members said the recommendation would be sent to the Wichita Police Department and then to the city council.
The two Wichita Petland stores both sell animals from breeders. Petland East and West store owners spoke out against the recommendation at the meeting.
“Sometimes these people tend to start talking, and it almost seems like what they’re saying turns into facts,” Troy Hertel, the owner of Petland in west Wichita, said in public comments. “We haven’t heard anything [evidence.]”
About 20 community members spoke at the meeting. Thirteen spoke in favor of the recommendation, with many citing personal experiences they have had with Petland puppies. One told the story of a Husky puppy she got from Petland, who later became aggressive and had to be euthanized. Another shared the story of a pup who suffered from extreme anxiety that made it difficult to breathe.
There are approximately 100 Petland stores in the United States. The U.S. Humane Society wrote in a 2022 report that 11 breeders on their “Horrible Hundred” breeder list have sold to Petland. According to the Humane Society, seven of the nation’s 100 worst animal dealers reside in Kansas. The report found that a breeding operation linked to one of these dealers sold to a Wichita Petland location in 2018.
Petland East owner Brad Bockus said in a previous interview that Petland only partners with breeders who had no violations during their last USDA inspection regarding the veterinary care of animals on their property.
Emily Hurst, CEO of the Kansas Humane Society, was one of the speakers. She urged the community to look at other policies beyond buying from herders.
“I just don’t want this community tipping its hat that ‘a ban on commercial pets’ is going to solve all of our problems,” Hurst said.
She said in a previous interview that the city could instead adopt policies such as trap-spay-release or mandatory sterilization and sterilization.
The Kansas Humane Society is at capacity. Although fewer animals would help the shelter, Hurst said Petland could simply move to another nearby town, such as Maize or Andover, to continue operations.
Board member Elaine Stephen, who voted to table the article, said the data was not there to support the ban and that anecdotes can be manipulative.
“Anecdotes leave an impression in the mind that, for most people, far exceeds data,” Stephen said.
The motion to table the item failed, with some board members saying waiting two months for the next meeting was too long for people to wait – especially for people who attended the meeting in order to hear the vote.
Ellen Querner, Board Member, moved the recommendation for adoption.
Contributor: Matthew Kelly of The Eagle.