Bill set for passage bans local regulation of pet stores

A bill drafted at the request of Petlland, a pet store chain looking to expand franchise operations in Tennessee, includes consumer protection for purchasers of cats and dogs as well as protection of pet sellers from local government regulation.

The bill (SB519) is sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, while opposed by animal advocacy groups. It has cleared committees in both the House and Senate and is scheduled for floor votes in both chambers this week.

From a report appearing in the Commercial Appeal:

The Tennessee Retail Pet Store Consumer Protection Act would allow consumers to return or exchange a pet deemed unfit for purchase by a veterinarian because of illness or a congenital condition. The consumer could recover expenses incurred in the diagnosis at up to 150 percent of the cost of the animal, while leaving local governments with… no oversight in those transactions.

…Massey told the Senate agriculture committee retailers shouldn’t have to deal with a “patchwork” of local ordinances. The bill gives them a single set of rules to follow.

… The legislation was written at the request of a Petland franchisee, who is opening a store in Knoxville with plans for stores in Memphis, Nashville and possibly Chattanooga, said… Marsh.

Petland officials have said that 50 percent of their business comes from pet sales, Marsh said. “He just said I’d like some assurance that I’m not going to have an ordinance put on me that bans selling cats and dogs and I lose 50 percent of my business,” he said.

Similar legislation was passed last year in Ohio, where Petland is based.

Memphis Rep. Antonio Parkinson said he has a problem with state laws that undercut local governments.

“What concerns me also, this individual comes into the state of Tennessee and immediately is able to dictate to every single city in the state as to how they will handle business when it comes to his business,” said Parkinson, a Democrat. “I think that is a bad precedent and a very slippery slope.”

A number of Tennessee cities have ordinances that regulate pets sold in retail stores and this bill would kill them all, said Eric Swafford, Tennessee state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“… (T)o even think that the legislature would consider passing a bill because one company asked them to, taking away local control, is almost mind-blowing. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t believe it,” Swafford said.

6 Responses to Bill set for passage bans local regulation of pet stores

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.