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City enacts pet-store ordinance

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos recently joined a host of cities that have permanently banned pet stores from selling dogs, cats and other animals purchased from so-called “puppy mills.”

The City Council Feb. 9 voted unanimously in favor of the second reading of the ordinance introduced Jan. 26, which permits stores to sell rescues and shelter pets. Shop owners will have to carry certificates confirming the source of the animals.

It also gives current pet shops six months to disengage from the practice.

The new rules take effect 60 days from the Feb. 9 vote.

“This really pulls at your heart strings,” Councilwoman Rebecca Jones said at the Jan. 26 meeting. “The (pet dealers) are not taking care of the animals the way I think they should, and I have a real problem with that.”

At the January council meeting, 19 speakers spoke on the controversial topic, which has been debated in San Marcos since April, when the City Council originally enacted a moratorium on the stores in the wake of a pet store opening up in a commercial center on Nordahl Road, owned by a man who prompted a similar moratorium in Oceanside.

Retail pet stores have come under increased scrutiny in recent years by animal rights activists who allege the retailers are selling animals bred at so-called “puppy mills.”

Seventeen of the 19 speakers spoke in favor of the ban, while two — David Salinas, the owner of Mini Toy Puppies, and an associate — spoke in opposition.

“I love animals, I have always owned a dog,” Salinas said. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t love animals because of where they come from, that is ridiculous.”

Mayor Jim Desmond said he grappled with the decision because he does not like to regulate where businesses can get their supplies, but said that animals are a different story.

“These are living and breathing things,” Desmond said. “And that is where I draw the line.”

San Marcos joins San Diego, Encinitas, Vista and Chula Vista, which have all adopted bans over the past two years.