A proposed ordinance would ban Franklin pet stores from selling commercially bred dogs or cats. It's a rule animal activists said would improve animal welfare, protect consumers, and prevent public health risks.
"The CDC launched an investigation last year that found over 100 cases of campylobacter could be traced to Petland pet stores, including two here in Tennessee," said animal activist Ashley Cunnyngham.
Campylobacter is a bacteria that often spreads through fecal matter. It can cause stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, and hospitalization. Some strains are drug-resistant.
Alderman Bev Burger said public health safety is why she chose to sponsor the proposal.
"To me, it's become more of a safety and health issue for our community," Burger said. "We're not interested in putting any retail store out of business at all."
But John Thompson, owner of the Pawfect Puppy, said that's exactly what the ordinance would do to his business. He said the rule lumps his small, family-run business in with big box stores.
Thompson said he holds the breeders he uses to the highest health standards.
"Any breeder we do business with is required to be licensed by the USDA, which means they're being inspected on a regular basis," Thompson said.
But Cunnyngham said standards for breeders are often deceptive.
"The USDA regulations are so lax that it really doesn't mean anything in terms of guaranteeing your dog is being bred and raised in an environment that's humane," she said.
Thompson argued the ordinance also takes away consumer choice.
"I feel like the general public should have the right to adopt or the right to shop," he said. "I've been open for two years, and in two years I've sold a little over 700 dogs. I think that in itself says something."
Franklin city staff have been in the process of researching and drafting the ordinance. Alderman Burger hopes it will be up for consideration soon.
Thompson plans to attend the next Board of Aldermen meeting to voice his opposition to the proposal.