The city of Shakopee has a new pet store ordinance, and city officials believe that it will help them protect animals from poor treatment.
The ordinance, passed unanimously by the City Council, requires owners of pet stores to obtain a one-time license at a cost of $100.
Once a business is licensed, the owner is required to meet a series of regulations related to the conditions of the store and animals. If the conditions aren’t met, the city has the power to suspend or revoke the license, or cite the owner with a misdemeanor, said Police Chief Jeff Tate.
The city began the process of developing the ordinance in early August, after a local businesswoman led a social media campaign to expose poor conditions at Eagle Pet Center in downtown Shakopee. The store had been the source of complaints to the police department for many years, Tate said.
Without an ordinance, however, “We were very limited in terms of resources to mitigate the problem,” Tate said. Though Mayor Brad Tabke and other officials said publicly that they weren’t happy with the store’s unclean conditions, there was no ordinance in place to allow the city to take action.
“I’m not going to say that [this ordinance] will keep us out of any situation, but it gives us … a lot more ability to take care of these issues in the future,” Tabke said.
Tate said he worked with the Animal Humane Society, Petland and various community members, including a veterinarian, to create the ordinance, which is based on a similar ordinance in Bloomington. He tried to “get buy-in from everyone,” he said.
“Even though everyone didn’t get what they wanted … we tried to take a very reasonable approach,” he added.
In addition to protecting animals, another goal was not to infringe on the rights of businesses, Tabke said. The ordinance “walks a fine line,” Tabke said, which is “hard to do.”
Anyone who wants to obtain a pet store license will now be subject to a background check, Tate said. The ordinance also states that waste must be removed from animals’ cages every 24 hours, that walls and ceilings must be kept clean, and that the store needs to have a nonabsorbent floor, Tate said.
One thing that isn’t included is language regulating where animals are purchased. Some animal advocates wanted to include an “anti-puppy mill clause” that would ensure dogs were purchased from humane breeding facilities, Tate said.
Keith Streff, senior humane agent for the Animal Humane Society, worked with Tate and the city to develop the ordinance. He said that because they haven’t been around that long, many third-ring suburbs are “deficient in detail” when it comes to animal-related regulations. It’s usually an instance like the Eagle Pet Center situation that causes a city to update its ordinances, he said.
In late July, all animals were removed from Eagle Pet Center, and its owner was prohibited from purchasing more. Tabke said he’s not sure if the store is still open and selling pet supplies.
The only other pet store in Shakopee is Petland, though there is a PetSmart being built, Tabke said.
Petland owner Jeff Latko said he reviewed and endorsed the ordinance, calling it “fair.”
“Our standards of care at the store more than exceed what’s in the ordinance,” Latko said. “So we have no objection to it.”
Tate said he was pleased with the process and the outcome. “We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “It was a good day for Shakopee.”