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Dallas may soon end sale of puppy-mill puppies at pet stores

Dallas City Council members may soon be voting on an ordinance that would end the sale of puppy-mill puppies at pet stores.

Selling dogs and cats at pet stores may soon stop if Dallas City Council members decide to pass restrictions that other Texas cities already have in place.

Animal welfare advocates say a Humane Pet Ordinance would put a squeeze on commercial breeding operations like puppy mills.

"Puppy selling pet stores, including Dallas Petland, source puppies from puppy-mill breeders and brokers in the Midwest, where dogs are bred in horrific conditions and then transported for thousands of miles into the city,” said Lauren Loney, the Texas state director of the The Humane Society of the United States.

Elizabeth Kunzelman, vice president of the pet store Petland, agreed that puppy mills are “are wrong and should be illegal” and assured council members that Petland only buys their dogs from USDA licensed breeders. She said adopting the pet ordinance would put pet sellers she knows out of business.

"We cannot let dogs with unknown histories be the only choice for Dallas families,” Kunzelman said.

Representatives of The Humane Society, Petland and Dallas Animal Services shared their opinions on the ordinance at a Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture Committee meeting Tuesday.

Loney, who’s been pushing for a ban since last year, said the ordinance would prevent “families from having to deal with the heartbreak of purchasing a puppy, only to have that puppy be sick.”

If approved, the ordinance would regulate sales at retail stores, but not backyard or person-to-person sales. Loney said the goals is to stop what she calls “cruel breeding practices.”

“This ordinance is in line with existing pet store industry, best practices and breeder best practices and trends, and is not an effort to put any single store out of business,” Loney said.

Other cities in Texas, such as Austin, Fort Worth, College Station and San Antonio,, have adopted similar ordinances. Pet stores like PetSmart and Petco do not sell cats or dogs. They've partnered with local animal welfare organizations to provide adoptions.

Several council members raised concerns about the treatment of animals that are sold in pet stores.

Council member Omar Narvaez said it's unfortunate the Petland representative used an example of a rescued pitbull dog being pushed to react aggressively as a way to gain support for puppy mill sales.

"The use of fearmongering when it comes to larger breeds of animals was reprehensible. I am shocked that an organization that pushes for fair treatment of animals allegedly would sit here and fearmonger on a mauling that happened. All animals will react when they're pushed to do so," Narvaez said.

Council member Chad West said he wants more data on how many puppies have died after being purchased at Petland.

The City Attorney’s Office would ultimately be responsible for drafting a new ordinance. The ordinance will be brought back to the full council for discussion.

Editor's note: A comment attributed to Council member Omar Narvaez in an earlier version should have referred to puppy mills and not Petland. The story has been updated.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.