Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed SB 620—the so-called “Local Business Protection Act”—and in doing so ensured that Florida localities can continue to protect animals and consumers from the cruel puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline. The Florida legislature recently passed the extremely broad preemption bill, which would have had many unintended consequences, including protecting businesses that abuse animals.
SB 620 would have allowed businesses impacted by local ordinances to claim damages, meaning cities and counties would have to use taxpayer dollars to reimburse businesses for losses that owners claim are the result of a local ordinance. If a city passed an ordinance to stop the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores, or even just implemented common-sense health and animal welfare standards, the city could have been forced to write a check to those pet stores to cover the profits they claim they could have made. This would have been a massive deterrence to Florida localities that wish to reject puppy mill cruelty as it could have flooded Florida courts with lawsuits and would have the effect of blocking efforts to save dogs in puppy mills.
“We applaud Governor DeSantis for taking a strong stand against cruel puppy mills and their pet store sales outlets with his veto of SB 620,” says Kate MacFall, Florida state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “He rightfully sided with pet-loving Floridians over powerful special interests.”
Puppy-selling pet stores often source their puppies from puppy mills and public records connect Florida pet stores to some of many problematic puppy mills. Too often, they sell gravely ill and behaviorally challenged puppies to unsuspecting consumers, leading to high veterinary bills, heartbreak and alarmingly, zoonotic infections of Florida residents. One of these puppy-selling pet stores is the subject of a lawsuit brought by the attorney general for allegedly selling sick puppies.
Over 80 localities in Florida have already prohibited the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores.