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Fraser City Council approves pet mill ordinance

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 22, 2015

Thinkstock photo

FRASER — More than two months after Fraser first delved into the topic of commercial pet breeding, the city unanimously approved an ordinance to provide stability in the future.

The decision, which was made Dec. 10 by City Council, comes on the heels of an October presentation made by Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, which came to fruition in 2008.

She talked about Michigan Friends of Companion Animals, which is a coalition that was formed to support proposals and state legislation regarding breeding kennels. Macomb County Chief Animal Control Officer Jeff Randazzo is the architect of the ordinance.

As Sordyl said at the Dec. 10 meeting, “The model that we’re looking for is adoption.”

She said there’s a case for each animal involved, and the focus at this juncture is on retail.

City Attorney Jack Dolan said the model ordinance comes as a result of Macomb County not having authority as a local unit of government, so the Macomb County Board of Commissioners urged municipalities to review and approve such an ordinance on their own behalf.

Dolan said the ordinance has a definitional section that sets forth all the different terms that are provided, including a prohibition section that attempts to prohibit the retail sale of certain types of animals under certain circumstances. It provides exceptions, though, for the sale of puppies and other types of animals by private individuals — or the opposite of a pet store or retail atmosphere.

It also allows for pet stores to display animals from the Michigan Humane Society and other organizations where animals are not being bred solely for sale.

“The whole idea here is to address what’s perceived as a widespread problem — not only in Michigan but throughout the United States — where basically pet mills as what they’re called, but they’re basically animal production facilities where they take and they breed dogs, oftentimes without appropriate interbreeding and control, so that the animals are kept in poor conditions and sometimes have bad genetic problems the way they are bred,” Dolan said.

The ordinance includes the prohibition of pet stores — of which none currently exist in Fraser — to sell animals like ferrets and reptiles. Sordyl mentioned that rabbit and ferret mills do exist in their own right.

Eastpointe and Memphis are two other cities that have passed ordinances to combat the issue, with others still reviewing ordinance language and coming to their own conclusions at the local level.

Sordyl previously mentioned in October that at least 87 other U.S. and Canadian cities have adopted similar ordinances. The newly approved Fraser ordinance mirrors the language of an ordinance from East Providence, Rhode Island, while the ordinance itself is sort of a blueprint from cities like Glendale, California, and Austin, Texas.

Upon completion of the vote, Sordyl hugged a friend involved with Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan and flashed a big smile of approval.