City proposing ordinance to regulate pet shops

The city of Princeton could soon have a new ordinance regulating pet businesses.

The City Council introduced a draft proposal of an ordinance at its June 5 workshop following a discussion that included input from Paws Up 4 You owner Tina Stuck. City Administrator Mark Karnowski provided his proposed ordinance at the start of the meeting, and the council added some changes.

Karnowski drafted his proposed ordinance by taking excerpts of pet shop regulations in the cities of Shakopee and Fargo, North Dakota. Two of the additions agreed upon by the council came from the Fargo document.

Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle Council members Thom Walker, Paul Whitcomb (mayor), and Jules Zimmer deliberating during the June 3 city council study session.
Joel Stottrup / Union-Eagle
Council members Thom Walker, Paul Whitcomb (mayor), and Jules Zimmer deliberating during the June 3 city council study session.

One of those provisions states that reasonable measures would have to be taken to house “intact mammals that have reached sexual maturity in a manner to prevent unplanned reproduction.” The other provision requires pet store operators and their agents to wash their hands before and after handling an infectious or contagious animal.

Stuck, who is an animal care professional, said that handling amphibians and aquatic animals especially calls for hand washing because of the high risk of those animals carrying salmonella.

Another provision added has to do with the effect that a pet business can have on people living adjacent to or above a pet facility. Stuck recommended that the city prohibit any pet business locating where there is adjacent living quarters, including a dwelling above the pet store. Odors that build up in a pet store can easily seep into the living spaces nearby, she said.

The council’s push to draft and enact such an ordinance follows some “issues” the city recently had, Karnowski said at the start of the discussion. There were also comments later in the discussion that referred to a pet business that had operated for some time in the downtown.

It was uncertain at first whether the council would introduce the ordinance draft at the work session, until Mayor Paul Whitcomb urged that the introduction take place right away.

With the concerns about ventilation, cleaning and feeding at pet stores, it’s best that the city “get the ball rolling” toward having such an ordinance, Whitcomb said.

Council Member Thom Walker asked if there would be a concern about what a pet shop puts down their drains and how that might affect the city’s wastewater treatment plant. But the council consensus was that this wouldn’t be a big enough issue to add another regulation in a pet business ordinance.

If the ordinance is passed, pet store owners would have to get a license, with the council charged with deciding whether to approve each application. The ordinance draft includes provisions on animal health and welfare, floor requirements, walls and ceilings, ventilation, feeding, humane treatment, care and handling, location of the animals, infectious diseases, size requirements in order to have a sink with hot and cold running water, and a penalty for violation.

  • You would think that a pet store owner would already have these provisions in place and therefore, would not need an ordinance to enforce common sense.