Rescue, shelter pets could be new norm in SLC

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposed ordinance could stop Salt Lake City pet stores from selling dogs, cats or rabbits unless the animals were obtained from a rescue agency or shelter.

“The purpose of the ordinance is not to put pet stores out of business, but for them to get animals from humane sources,” said Humane Society of Utah’s Executive Director, Gene Baierschmidt.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said most of the city's pet stores already carry shelter animals.

“Our pet stores work with adoption agencies to make sure the pets are coming from a place where they can be adopted, where they are not for sale but in an adoption situation,” Biskupski said.

The city’s concern is keeping it that way.

“As our city grows we have to be thinking ahead,” Biskupski said. “We do not want puppy mills in Salt Lake City. “We want ethical businesses here. We want to maintain kind of the value system that we have here and create an environment that is appreciative of those values and those ethics."

City leaders believe their new proposed ordinance will encourage people to adopt—not shop.

“Pet stores would have these animals from shelters in their store, so it would help us to adopt more animals,” said Gene Baierschmidt, a spokesman for the Humane Society of Utah.

Baierschmidt said the ordinance could also help to mitigate stereotypes about pets obtained from shelters and rescue agencies.

“It’s a myth that if you adopt a dog from a shelter it’s going to be sick or it’s going to have some kind of behavioral problem,” said Baierschmidt.

The council is set to vote on the ordinance in their meeting Tuesday evening.