After years of protests and a grisly scandal at a local pet store, the Frisco City Council finally approved new rules regulating the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores.
The new ordinance responds to an August 2019 investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who charged the Petland store in Frisco of mistreating its animals.
An HSUS investigator took photos and video while working in the pet store's back room, and found that the pets were mistreated, sick, and overcrowded. The investigator kept a diary documenting puppies that had bloody diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, coughing, or were visibly underweight.
Frisco Animal Services identified several animals that needed immediate veterinary care, and issue a citation to Petland. The chain has been a target of years' of protest by local animal activists who have accused them of selling animals from puppy mills.
Investigators did not find evidence that meets the Texas statute for cruelty to animals, which is an embarrassingly low filter. But Frisco residents persisted, petitioning the city to clean up its act.
Approved on January 21, the ordinance addresses areas such as sanitation, veterinary treatment, care, feeding, housing, and record-keeping on the acquisition, transportation, and status of animals that are being sold.
"While we haven't been able to adopt all of the suggestions and changes that came from the various animal interest groups that came to you, we adopted a lot of them, and the ordinance is better for being able to put those provisions in there," said Deputy City Manager Henry J. Hill.
Unfortunately, during the discussion, it was revealed that at least one of Frisco's City Council members has purchased animals from Petland.
Nearly all of the residents who spoke were still not satisfied with the scope of the ordinance and its lack of provision for enforcement.
Susan Oakey, who has been part of a group that's protested at the store for more than 11 years, called it a stopgap measure at best. "It's putting a bandaid on a gaping wound," she says.
At one time, Petland had five stores in the area, but two — Lewisville and Arlington — have closed in recent years. Locations are still open in Dallas and Plano, which has also been the target of protests.
On the same night that Frisco enacted its ordinance, The Colony banned retail sales of dogs and cats, although it does not currently have any pet stores that do sales. Fort Worth has also banned retail sales, but surprisingly Dallas has not.
"We need to look at banning retail sales entirely," Oakey says. "Puppy mills are extremely cruel and breed animals with lots of physical problems."