Jan 242011
 
Authors: Josh Philips

You may have heard of the initiative to ban pet sales in Fort Collins, and some of you may have even signed the petition to include it on the ballot this year. If so, you may want to consider finding the petition and scratching your name out before you become an accomplice to prolonging the recession in Fort Collins.

The proposed ordinance originated from a local CSU student, Laure Molitor, who has taken it upon herself to ensure pet establishments can no longer feed on the “uninformed”–– and possibly inept –– animal lovers of Fort Collins.

The ordinance, according to a website dedicated to the initiative, would “negatively impact commercial breeders such as puppy mills and kitten factories.” While this intent is not a bad one –– nobody wants to see animals suffer in disgusting living conditions ––the ordinance is clearly designed to punish pet stores by utilizing a perverted sense of justice.

Perhaps the most incredulous aspect of the proposed ordinance is that it completely ignores the recession, and its advocates seem incapable of understanding that removing any business in Fort Collins can only lead to negative consequences. This blind mindset clearly shows a failure to grasp the basics of economics.

For example, they suggest that pet stores will not suffer from the loss of pet sales but fail to offer evidence anywhere to the contrary. Even if they could offer such proof, the idea of diminishing the revenues of local businesses for the sake of sending a message remains on shaky moral ground.

Strangely enough, the rest of the website seems to be an attack against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its inability to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, especially in the case of “puppy mills” and “kitten factories.” The backers of the ordinance have come to the conclusion that pet stores must pay for the USDA’s transgressions because “it’s too difficult to fight the government.” So with the ordinance in mind, the ends justify the means, no matter who gets hurt along the way.

This proposal carries with it numerous unintended consequences. If pet stores can no longer sell pets, people will buy them online. And if you think people are “uninformed” walking into pet stores, imagine how uninformed will they be when buying from somebody in Kansas on Craigslist.
If the large chains like Petco and Petsmart are reduced to selling only feed, they will assuredly sell their products at a lower price –– and no doubt they will offer a much wider variety. The feed stores she offers as poster children for the wild agenda will lose their niche in the local community, post record losses, and no doubt be swallowed whole by the very corporate giants she wishes to subvert. Once again, a basic understanding of economics.

Not to mention the number of veterinarians who will lose business. Less supply of animals means less visits to the vet’s office, which means less revenues, which means people will start losing jobs. It’s that simple.

It’s doubtful the ordinance writers took the time to study pet stores before they made such outrageous and indefensible claims against them. The employees at Petco are instructed not to sell any animal to a person unwilling to care for it –– one merely has to be a customer to see how much compassion the employees and managers are capable of.

The scariest aspect of the ordinance is that it has loose ties to PETA, the extremist group that tends to provide “euthanasia services” for those adorable puppies and kittens they claim to protect. The website for the ordinance offers links to PETA, suggesting they either are supportive of or, at the very least, inspired by the group’s aberrant behavior.

In the end, the ordinance is poorly thought-out and, if put in place, would offer more problems than solutions. It seems its advocates spent very little time weighing the pros versus the cons and are simply out to implement an anti-business law for the sake of a few sad photos they saw on the Internet. It is little more than a personal vendetta against pet stores, which just isn’t worth the cost to the community.

Josh Philips is a Fort Collins resident and former Collegian columnist.

 Posted by at 4:08 pm

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