NEW PORT RICHEY — No more selling cats and dogs at flea markets. That was the decision Pasco County commissioners reached Tuesday after months of heated discussions that drew out animal rights activists and breeders.
Commissioners voted 4-1, with Jack Mariano dissenting, to ban such pet sales at flea markets, a move that Commission Ted Schrader said was to curb impulse buying.
"If they want to get a puppy they have time to truly think about it," he said.
Mariano said the measure put an undue burden on businesses, not only breeders but flea market owners.
"This is America," he said. "Why impose your wishes on these business people on how they want to do business?"
The measure caps off months of debate about tightening county rules regarding animals and working to save 90 percent of the animals housed at the county animal shelter. Commissioners last month banned tethering of dogs outdoors and raised licensing fees to help fund enhancements in animal services.
Breeders and flea market owners said the ordinance is flawed because it allows vendors to bring animals to the flea market for display and handle a transaction off site.
"This is going to go to court," said Michele Overbeck, owner of the USA Flea Market in Port Richey.