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Sarasota Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 5 years ago

Petland sues Sarasota County

About one month before the county’s ban on some retail pet sales goes into effect, the owner of the Fruitville Road pet store is suing to stop enforcement.

Last year, as Sarasota County commissioners considered banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, Petland Sarasota co-owner Lamar Parker said the decision would put him out of business and his 36 employees out of a job.

Now, Parker is suing the county on the grounds that the law, known as the “puppy mill ordinance,” is unconstitutional and enforcement shouldn’t be allowed, according to a lawsuit served to Sarasota County Oct. 31. Petland is located in a shopping center on Fruitville Road near I-75.

“Parker has a clear right to relief and unless temporary and thereafter permanent injunctive relief is granted which bars enforcement of the ordinance, Parker will suffer irreparable harm for which he has an inadequate remedy at law,” writes Petland attorney Thomas Shults in the complaint, which alleges eight counts against the county.

On Jan. 27, after a 12-hour commission meeting devoted entirely to the controversial subject, commissioners approved the ban, concluding an effort more than three years in the making.

The ordinance was a response to pet stores allegedly selling pets from puppy mills or through brokers who obtained pets from those breeders.

Opponents who criticized the ban, said it will drive customers to unregulated sources, such as breeders who sell through the internet and many asked for stricter regulations rather than prohibition. Proponents said breeders did not reliably treat animals humanely, and pet stores didn’t reliably avoid those breeders.

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