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Clark County proposes banning pet store sales to end puppy mills, shelter overcrowding

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Las Vegas loves puppies: The city is ranked third on’s list of top 10 American cities for dog ownership. One of every six households has a furry member of the family.

Will a proposed ban on pet store sales change that?

Mesquite, North Las Vegas and Reno have already passed bans on pet store sales to combat the nationwide issue of pet overpopulation and puppy mills.

The American Humane Association reports that of the U.S.’s 163 million pet cats and dogs, one in 20 are sent to a shelter.

While some say banning pet stores is one way to end animal abuse and overpopulation, not everyone buys into the idea.

An online petition started by Henderson pet store Puppy Palace has received more than 650 signatures against the proposed ban. The petition cites a love of animals and fears for the future of family-owned pet stores.

It’s a complicated issue. And we called several pet stores in the Las Vegas Valley, but none would agree to join this conversation.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft recently proposed banning pet store sales in Clark County. On the other end of it, Amy Lee is the spokesperson for the Nevada SPCA, which takes in thousands of stray  animals each year.

Naft said he believes this is the humane thing to do. About 400 municipalities across 31 states have already instituted bans, including six states as a whole.

"Many people might not really realize this, but there aren't a whole lot of regulations on the on pet stores. They, of course, have to have a business license, which is why we have some authority here. But they tend to point often to the USDA licensing and the sort of certification that they get. But in reality, the USDA license says almost nothing about the quality of breeder standards are really, really low. Enforcement is even lower and severely lacking," Naft said.

It wouldn't require pet stores to close, but it would mean they would have to change their business model to no longer sell animals.

As it is now, both Naft and Lee said ethical breeders already don't sell to pet stores. It won't be a cure-all, Naft said, but he said the county needs to look at what's reasonable, what they can control.

Lee said 60% of their intake is surrendered pets, many of which came from pet stores. 

"Pet stores are putting unfixed animals into the population. So we take on those burdens, we fix those animals and turn them around and try to find them loving new homes," she said.

Within unincorporated Clark County, there are about a dozen pet stores.

Amy Lee, communications manager, Nevada SPCA;  Michael Naft, commissioner, Clark County 

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