City will try to prohibit sale of puppy-mill dogs |

City will try to prohibit sale of puppy-mill dogs

Elaine Goodman

The South Lake Tahoe City Council decided Tuesday to craft an ordinance to ban the retail sale of dogs from so-called puppy mills, a move that could be a first among California cities.

The ordinance would regulate the sale of dogs from retail stores in the city through the business-license process. In order for such a store to receive a permit, it would need to prove that its dogs are obtained from sources that aren’t puppy mills. A retailer found to knowingly sell puppy-mill dogs could lose its business license.

The council voted unanimously to have the city attorney draft the ordinance and to report back in December.

“This is not going to be easy,” said Councilwoman Kathay Lovell. “These pet stores come very prepared to fool the customer as to where these puppies are coming from.”

The Humane Society of the United States describes puppy mills as mass dog-breeding operations. The facilities typically house dogs in poor conditions, with little human companionship or veterinary care, the organization says. Puppies bred through mills often exhibit health and behavior problems, according to the society.

The puppy-mill issue has been spotlighted on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and took on a sense of urgency at the South Shore this year following the opening of Broc’s Puppies on Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Some animal advocates allege the store is selling puppy-mill dogs, and concerned residents protested outside the store in June.

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Broc’s owner, Dennis Franks, has denied the puppy-mill accusations.

And following the council’s action on Tuesday, Broc’s employee Gary Emerson told the Tribune that the store buys dogs only from USDA-licensed breeders.

“I would never, ever want anyone to get a puppy from a puppy mill or anything like that,” Emerson said.

In some preliminary research of other California cities, City Manager David Jinkens could not find any examples of ordinances prohibiting the sale of puppy-mill dogs.

Dawn Armstrong, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society, commended the council for taking steps toward an ordinance that would be “precedent setting.”

Armstrong said other animal advocates are willing to help the city create an enforceable ordinance.

— Tribune staff writer Adam Jensen contributed to this report.

The City Council on Tuesday called for immediate inspections of the city’s BlueGO buses by the California Highway Patrol after concerns were raised about the buses’ safety.

The inspections could start as soon as today, and will be monitored by a consultant hired by the city.

Area Transit Management, which operates the city bus system, agreed to pay half the cost of the consultant.

The council had been poised to terminate its contract with ATM as of Oct. 31 after the consultant, Transit Maintenance Consultants, alleged the buses were unsafe.

But the council backed off from ending the contract because of concerns that city officials hadn’t taken the proper steps to resolve the dispute with ATM.

ATM representatives questioned the standards the consultant used to deem the buses unsafe, and said the city didn’t follow the terms of the contract in handling the issue.

The council directed the city attorney to work with ATM’s lawyer on a mediation or arbitration process that both sides agree on. The process will come back to the council for approval.

If concerns about bus safety aren’t settled after the inspections, the city and ATM will participate in the agreed-upon process to resolve the issue.

— Elaine Goodman