A push is on to stop local retail establishments from selling animals generated by "puppy mills."
Lori Fogler-Nicholson, chairman of the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Commission, is heading an effort to have Branford be the first town in the state to enact an ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by pet store operators here.
Located in Branford, the shelter provides municipal animal protection and shelter services for the towns of Branford and North Branford. The proposed policy ultimately seeks to end retail puppy mill sales in Branford and North Branford. At this time, Fogler-Nicholson is spearheading a campaign to encourage Branford constituents to contact their district Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member with a letter in support the new ordinance in Branford.
Fogler-Nicholson said policy supporters plan to meet with the RTM's Rules and Ordinances Committee to discuss the matter on July 2. Should the push for a Branford ordinance succeed, Fogler-Nicholson said Branford would be ahead of statewide legislation on the matter, to be discussed in the 2014 legislative season.
In this area, retail sales of pets include those transacted at All Pets Club of Branford. On June 14, The Sound contacted the Branford business for a comment on the proposed town ordinance; and was given a "no comment" response from a representative.
Fogler-Nicholson said she's done her homework and at least some of the puppies channeled through All Pets Club nationally come from what can be considered puppy mills. She tracked down one such provider, USDA Certified Dots Little Doggies Inc., of Lyndon, Kansas. Based on a routine USDA inspection from March, 2013, Dots Little Doggies had 392 adult dogs and 121 puppies being attended to by seven employees.
"Imagine the sight, sounds, fear, anxiety and smell of 513 dogs in Branford…if you couldn't support it here, then don't support it there," said Fogler-Nicholson.
She added the proposed Branford policy will foster a more humane environment in a retail establishment, provide community awareness of the plight of puppy mills and kitten factories, and encourage adoption of shelter dogs, cats and rabbits, which can be showcased at retail establishments, thereby providing a more humane business model.
"I come from a family of business owners," Fogler-Nicholson told The Sound. "We're not here to drive anyone out of business. I think there are many in town who will reward (All Pets Club) for having a humane business model. I believe this is an opportunity to turn that corner."
While some may argue that the town cannot legally restrict such sales, it's already being done in other places in this country, said Fogler-Nicholson.
"There are 32 towns and cities across the United States that have done this already, including Los Angeles (CA). If Los Angeles can do this, Branford can," she said. "We have an opportunity to be the first in the state to say 'no' to the puppy mill industry."