ABOVE: The Pawfect Puppy on Jordan Road closed earlier this year when the city began to discuss the puppy and kitten law. // JOHN MCBRYDE
By JOHN MCBRYDE
Between two completely opposed viewpoints on the matter, the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 5-3 Tuesday night to effectively ban the retail sales of commercially bred dogs and cats at pet stores in the Franklin city limits.
It was a second and final reading on the motion, and voting followed along the same lines as it did on first reading at BOMA’s Nov. 27 meeting. Voting against were Aldermen at Large Clyde Barnhill and Ann Peterson and Scott Speedy from the 3rd Ward.
The ordinance would only restrict any future retailers from selling dogs or cats that would be sourced from so-called puppy mills or kitten mills, and would not affect current pet supply companies such as PetSmart, Nashville Pet Products or Pet Supermarket, among others. It also would allow the sale of pets from an animal shelter or animal rescue organization.
One such pet store that would have been impacted by the ordinance has since relocated out of Franklin. The Pawfect Puppy moved from its location on Jordan Road earlier this fall. Its owner, John Thompson, apparently made the decision to move after he had attended a BOMA work session in November filled with animal advocates and others supporting the ordinance.
“This is about the future,” said 1st Ward Alderman Bev Burger, who sponsored the motion to adopt the ordinance. “No one put a person out of business. A person decided to move his business elsewhere because he did not want to list breeders on the cages [in his store]. …
“I do know that I visited a puppy mill years back, and that was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m very honored to bring this ordinance before the board.”
A couple of aldermen who voted to approve the ordinance cautioned against the possibility of government overreach. Dana McLendon of the 2nd ward, for instance, said he had heard from constituents wanting to know “if this puts us on the proverbial slippery slope and where I would draw the line. I think it’s wise to be cognizant when you are stepping into an area of legislation like this. …
“I tend to favor the least restrictive measure that will accomplish the goal … and sometimes the least restrictive measure is to let the market play out. In this instance, however, I think the moment is right. We don’t have any business in this town selling puppies at a storefront.”
Barnhill was adamantly opposed, arguing that the city had no business banning the sale of puppies and kittens in retail stores. He also questioned how passing the ordinance would lead to an end of puppy mills.
“I find it quite interesting that someone finds this ordinance does anything — anything! — to reduce or restrict puppy mills. It simply doesn’t do it. There’s nothing there that will do that. If I thought this ordinance would put a puppy mill out of business, … I’d support it, but I don’t think it does.
“And for us to suppose that every animal that comes from the animal control shelter or whatever is healthy and emotionally stable, and every animal that comes from the pet store is not, that’s ridiculous. That’s just not the case. …
“I am very disappointed that aldermen wish to restrict a free trade, a free process and we’re taking a business that’s legal and making it illegal.”
Burger countered by saying that this ordinance would indeed help to shut down puppy mills. She pointed to the fact that 280 cities across the country already have such restrictions, and Franklin is one of 18 that should be joining the list.
“That is going to impact puppy mills, you’d better believe it,” she said of the ordinance. When people see that Franklin steps up — people look at Franklin all the time and pattern many of their ordinances and their planning documents after Franklin — so they’re looking at us and saying, ‘What is Franklin doing?’”