In a 6-1 vote, Hollywood city commissioners approved an ordinance yesterday that bans the retail sale of pets that come from puppy mills.
The goal of the ban is to cease supporting mills, which animal activists have decried for years due to concerns that the large-scale facilities breed sick animals who are then sold at local pet stores.
Among the animal activists who attended yesterday’s meeting was Coral Springs resident Ghazal Tajalli, 32, who has been pushing for such a ban on puppy mills since 2010. She told New Times that she and other activists are "very pleased" with yesterday's victory.
"The evidence spoke for itself. Puppy Palace has a long history of selling sick puppy mill dogs to the unsuspecting public," she said. "The residents of Hollywood paired up with advocates and activists, and the commissioners listened. Now the city has followed in the steps of many other cities that have enacted similar ordinances. They decided to be on the just side of history and we thank them for their decision."
According to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, animals that come from puppy mills suffer from heart problems and other congenital defects, some not apparent to pet owners until several years later, that are the result of forced inbreeding and the neglect their mothers endure while living in cages.
"This ordinance that passed in Hollywood is a win for everyone," said Don Anthony, the communications director for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. "It's a win for consumers, it's a win for the animals left in puppy mills, who are neglected and live in cages, and it's a win for the defective animals who are the result of puppy mills who are trucked all over the country."
Anthony also said that the new ban on selling animals from puppy mills now encourages a more "humane model," where pets looking for forever homes are adopted from local area shelters. Due to the screening process that pounds already have in place, Hollywood commissioners said this new model will help reduce the chances that animals are mistreated by their owners.
Hallandale Beach City Commission Michele Lazarow, who activists say was instrumental in leading the charge against puppy mills said she feels the ban was the right thing to do.
"I feel instrumental in protecting taxpayers, consumers, and animals," she told New Times. "I want to thank the commission, all those who voted for this in particular, for being able to see and hear their constituents' concerns and honor their compassion for animals. I want to thank them for taking a stand for what was right and just."
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Lazarow said the reason Patricia Asseff, the lone commissioner who voted against the ban, apparently sided with puppy mills was because she is friends with Judy Norford, the owner of Puppy Palace, a business that activists say has sold animals from such breeding facilities.
"It's bad public policy to base your votes on your friendships," Lazarow said. "This is really not the kind of issue you want to fall on the sword on."
Hollywood is now one of more than 40 Florida jurisdictions with similar bans, including Hallandale Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, and Wellington.
New Times has reached out to Asseff and Norford. This article will be updated if we get their responses.