AUSTIN (KXAN) - A city ordinance could force
"They passed this ordinance one month before my store opened inMarch of 2008," said the Daxa Bhakta. "They're not targeting any ofthese little breeders or the people that sell out of boxes. Nobodyis focused on those people and trying to stop those guys."
The city passedan ordinance in February 2008 that requires any person that sellsmore than 15 dogs or cats a year to pay a fee if the animal is notspayed or neutered. The fee for each animal is $50.
"When Petland and other people sell animals that are not spayedand neutered, unwanted animals enter the shelter and the taxpayerfoots the bill to have them spayed, neutered, medically treated,"said Larry Tucker with the Austin Animal Advisory Commission. "Then ifthey're not adoptable, they pay the expense of killing them anddisposing of the body."
Tucker doesn't deny that the ordinance was passed in response toPetland coming to Austin. But, he said in a city that euthanizedmore than 9,000 animals in its shelter last year, there is little tolerancefor businesses that assist in animal overpopulation.
"The point of the ordinance is to restrict those people who wantto sell non-spayed and non-neutered animals in masses or even morethan 10 a year," he said.
Tucker estimates Petland owes $25,000 to$30,000 based on theassumption that the store sells one intact dog every day.
However, Bhakta said that assumption is wrong.
"Many of our puppies already come to us fixed," she said. "And,we offer people six months to get the pet they buy from us spayedor neutered for free or at a reduced price. Most of our customersare not looking to breed the animals; they are only looking forcompanions."
Bhakta said she is gathering the paperwork that proves almostall of the animals she has sold are now spayed or neutered. She isconvinced that when it's all said and done, she'll owe the citynothing.
Petland and Puppy Mills
Petland is also coming under fire from animal activist groupsand some members of Austin's Animal Advisory Commission for wherethey purchase their puppies.
They compare the breeders Petland uses to puppy mills, like theone busted in North Texas last month where 500 dogs were emaciatedand sick, living in filthy cages.
"The Humane Societysays Petland is one of the biggest offenders and purchasers ofpuppy mill puppies," said Tucker. "Because they purchase from puppymills, there is a constant cycle of allowing these puppy mills togain a financial foothold and grow and continue their badbehavior."
Bhakta denied this claim as well, stressing that she only buysdogs from USDA certified breeders as well as pre-approved hobbybreeders.
"Our puppies are healthy, happy and sociable," she said. "Weeven have a do not buy list of breeders with bad histories."
Every Saturday, activists gather in front of Petland to protest.Bhakta said its an unfair representation of her business.
"We are locally owned and we do a lot of work for thecommunity," she said. "We work with Make-A-Wish foundation andthose with special needs, but those things never get reported."
The Humane Society of the United States filed a class actionlawsuit in February against Petland Inc. and its main breeder, theHunte Corporation for "conspiring to fraud consumers."
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.