Carmel City Council voted 7-1 Monday night to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores, even though none currently do so within city limits.
Councilman Adam Aasen sponsored the amendment to the city’s animal cruelty ordinance, while Councilor Laura Campbell voted alone against the amendment.
The ordinance previously stated that pet stores in Carmel could not source animals from puppy mills, while the amendment goes further by preventing stores from selling cats and dogs. Businesses that violate the order could be fined up to $2,500 per violation or closed for multiple violations.
Aasen acknowledged that there was no pet store in Carmel that sold cats and dogs. However, he said he wanted to take proactive steps to ensure that puppy and kitten mill animals could not be sold to Carmel in the future.
“I think it’s much wiser to anticipate a problem rather than having to act when you have a business going and you’re dealing with people losing their jobs and legal bills from the city” , did he declare. “It’s much cleaner and easier.”
In 2021, Illinois joined California, Maryland, Maine and Washington in banning the retail sale of cats and dogs. About 400 cities and towns in 30 states also have similar bans, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
John Troyer, who is president of the Northeast Chapter of the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare, was one of many who voiced opposition to the amendment at Monday’s meeting. He used Illinois as an example of where he said a ban had unintended consequences.
“We’ve learned from other states that have banned pet stores, and what we deal with when that happens is people hide (their activities) harder,” Troyer said.
Other stakeholders expressed concerns for the livestock industry. Aasen said nothing will change for herders in the city and animal husbandry is still allowed. He said pet stores would still be able to provide rescue organizations with space for adoptable cats or dogs.
“We have stores joining in rescues, but no business will go bankrupt,” Aasen said. “Nothing is changing in the town of Carmel for any of the ranchers.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Carmel City Council member who voted against the ordinance. The member was Laura Campbell, not Sue Finkam.