Read the original article by Jack Lowenstein at winknews.com here.
A group of volunteers and animal activists left a Collier County meeting dismayed that pet sales will continue throughout commerce spaces in the county.
Collier County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 against an ordinance that would have banned pet sales in the county Tuesday, approving a request to open a Petland that will sell cats and dogs in the process.
“They listened to everything that was brought forward to them,” said Luis Marquez, owner of Petland. “And, obviously, they saw an opportunity to help us shut down puppy mills.”
The fact that the future pet store will sell puppies and kittens upset Bette Ellenbogen, a volunteer with Humane Society Naples.
“If anyone needs an animal or wants an animal, there are more than enough Humane societies, rescue situations in Naples that are all reputable,” Ellenbogen said.
Executive Director Sarah Baeckler Davis of the local Humane Society agrees.
“Animals are a part of our families,” Davis said. “And we should be treating them as such.”
Because the “adopt don’t shop” narrative was unsuccessful, many activists worry selling animals contributes to the homeless pet population, including at the Naples location. The shelter ends up taking care of homeless pets until they find a forever home.
“Responsibility falls on the parents,” Ellenbogen said. “And then they get turned in. That’s good news if they get turned into this society. Sometimes they just get tossed out.”
But Marquez said he believes he can do right by the community and pet lovers. He said he will work with the county leaders to create new rules to regulate pet sales and protect animals in the process. The Petland is expected to open for business in December in North Naples at the corner of U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road.
“I’ve been taking the challenge on for the past three years,” Marquez said. “It’s just part of the game, part of our industry.”