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Unlikely Coalition Forms To Fight Proposed Pet Ordinance

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Jul 15 2012 01:26:11 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 11 2010 10:09:35 AM CDT
EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso Mayor John Cook insists on banning the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores, in order to curb pet over-population, and thus animal euthanasia in the city, but a group of unlikely allies stand in his way.

The Coalition for the Welfare of Pets was recently formed by animal shelters, breeders, and even pet store owners. Among the organizations participating are the Humane Society of El Paso, The Animal Rescue League and the owners of Petland in east El Paso.

They're in opposition to parts of the mayor's proposed pet ordinance which would:

1. Ban the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores. 2. Enforce a higher registration fee for dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered. 3. And require animal organization to spay and neuter the animals after they're four months old. 4. Charge residents an additional fee if they're pet ends up at animal services more than once a year.

Pet breeders said that the new ordinance would force them to pay for permits for every dog show and that would put them out of business.

Pet store owners argue the sale of cats and dogs is what keeps their business running and shelters take issue with new registration fees.

All agree something needs to be done about the euthanasia rate.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, several people also spoke in favor of the ordinance.

"The number of animals executed breaks my heart and the way a community treats its animals is a measure of that community and I want to be very proud of our community," former El Paso County Commissioner Charles Hooten said.

Cook said he supports the ban on sale of cats and dogs at pet stores because a study that showed most pet stores, including Petland, get their animals from 'puppy mills' - facilities that allegedly force female dogs to breed, keep animals in inhumane conditions, and often produce sickly dogs. Cook also supports the ban because he said pet stores foster irresponsible pet owners.

"They're buying on impulse buying, not even looking at the reality on whether or not they know how to care for an animal", he said.

The owner of Petland in El Paso, Mario Vasquez, said the mayor was overstepping his bounds.

"How can you eliminate an adult making an adult decision? Can you eliminate someone who wants to go to the dealership and wants to buy a Lexus, a Cadillac?", he asked the mayor.

The Coalition has until Oct. 5 to draft a proposal to improve the proposed pet ordinance. Cook told the Coalition he wanted to work with them in writing the proposal and that he wanted the city attorneys to take part as well.

City Representatives Beto O'Rourke and Steve Ortega were the only ones who voted against the delay. They said the city had waited long enough to take action.

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