Fraser drafting ordinance to combat inhumane animal treatment

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published October 28, 2015

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FRASER — The Fraser City Council has decided to join the statewide and national movement to deter individuals from obtaining pets — notably dogs — from commercial breeders that may result in sick and abused animals.

During an Oct. 6 council meeting, officials unanimously approved the drafting of the Humane Pet Acquisition Ordinance. Per city approval, City Attorney Jack Dolan was granted permission to draft an ordinance in accordance with the model ordinance provided by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

Pam Sordyl, who founded Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan in 2008, spoke at that meeting about how the issue gained traction in the first place.

She talked about Michigan Friends of Companion Animals, a recent coalition that has been formed to support proposals and state legislation regarding breeding kennels. The “champion of the ordinance,” she said, has been Macomb County Chief Animal Control Officer Jeff Randazzo, who tailored the county ordinance and had it reviewed by Jill Smith of the county’s assistant corporation counsel.

Dolan said the ordinance is drafted as a broad-based ordinance. The Macomb County Board of Commissioners determined that regulatory control would be at the local level, he said, and Smith worked in conjunction with them to draft the template ordinance.

“It basically is intended to try to address this issue as it would exist, scooping up all the communities large and small,” Dolan said. “This type of ordinance has been adopted in other states as well.”

Eastpointe and Memphis have passed ordinances to combat the issue, while others within the county are still reviewing ordinance language in their respective municipalities. Sordyl said 87 other U.S. and Canadian cities have adopted similar ordinances. 

While five cities’ ordinances have been challenged in federal court, all decisions were eventually upheld.

“We wanted to have the best of what other cities were doing,” Sordyl said. “Like, if Austin (Texas) didn’t want roadside sales, we thought that’s a good thing to put in there. So, we did kind of go around and benchmark all the other cities that were passing them at the time.

“Since then, every month we see a new city passing it. It’s actually hard to keep up with the ordinances. It’s been very active this year.”

After a bill to improve breeding conditions failed in Lansing last year during a lame-duck session, Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, is trying once more by introducing the Large Scale Commercial Dog Breeder Act, also known as House bill 4898, which was sponsored by the Michigan Humane Society.

The legislation would require large-scale dog breeders with 15 or more intact females to register with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for $25, and then follow the existing standards of care already in place for pet stores and shelters. Facilities would be limited to 50 breeding dogs at each site under the bill, and breeders would be required to provide vaccinations and parasite treatment, and health certificates — signed by a veterinarian — to consumers buying pets.

Additionally, the bill prohibits puppy sales until they’re 8 weeks of age to further protect consumers.

Fraser resident Vania Apps said an ordinance like this has been a long time coming.

“It’s not good for the puppies, it’s not good for the homeowners,” Apps said. “These people go out and empty their pockets to save their puppy. I’m excited about this and really think it’s good for Fraser, and it’s a humane way to go forward with how we care about our pets.”

The ordinance would exempt nonprofits and shelters, so if county animal control wanted to set up meet-and-greets for animal adoption, stores could work jointly with them. There are currently no retail pet stores in Fraser.

“This is my passion, and I do not want any of my neighbors and friends to buy an ill animal,” Sordyl said. “I feel that we cannot go to other states and close these outlets or commercial operations, but we can prevent them from coming to our community.”

Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki contributed to this story.

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