Baltimore City Council to consider ban on sales of cats and dogs in pet stores

The Baltimore City Council is to consider banning the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores as animal-rights activists eye a statewide prohibition.

The ban is set to be introduced at the Monday evening meeting, according to the council’s agenda.


State law currently prohibits pet stores from selling animals bred at so-called puppy mills — facilities with low standards associated with poor conditions and unhealthy animals — by requiring stores to only sell dogs raised by breeders with a good record in federal inspections.

But Emily Hovermale, the director of the Maryland chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, said advocates of the ban don’t think the law is being properly followed.

“We don’t know where the dogs are coming from that are being sold,” she said, so animal rights activists are pushing for an all-out ban.

Should the measure pass in Baltimore, it would have little immediate impact because there are no pet stores in the city that now sell cats or dogs.

But Hovermale’s group is seeking to have a similar ban put into place at the state level when the General Assembly session begins this week.

That move would mark an end to a partnership between the animal-rights groups and the pet industry, which collaborated on the current law.

Mitch Thomson, the owner of Just Puppies, which operates pet stores in Towson and Rockville, said he wouldn’t support the stricter law because it would cut off his supply of dogs.

While the proposed city law would allow collaborations between pet stores and animal shelters, Thomson said that wouldn’t be a good option for his business.

“The nonprofits don’t have desirable animals that we could sell,” he said.

Hovermale said she did expect pet store owners to be pleased about the new push.

“It’s not like there was ever really going to be a kumbaya moment between our groups for the long haul,” she said.