The San Marcos City Council voted to refer an item regarding the sale of cats and dogs in the city to the newly created Animal Services Council Committee during its meeting on Tuesday evening.
The council held a discussion regarding amending Chapter 6 of the San Marcos City Code concerning animals by amending and adding certain definitions in Section 6.001 and adding a new section 6.065 in order to regulate the sale of cats and dogs by pet stores, providing a savings clause and providing for the repeal of any conflicting provisions.
Previously, there have been many concerns and questions regarding the Pick A Pet store located in the San Marcos Outlet Malls and the source of the animals that are being sold
There were numerous comments given regarding the item during the citizen comment period of the meeting.
“Opening Pick A Pet has been a dream come true and we’d love to continue on this journey,” said Johnathan Galvan, owner of Pick A Pet. “But we were heartbroken a few days ago when we found out that a new bill in San Marcos would eventually put our store out of business.”
Organizations such as the Texas United for Pets and the Humane Society of the United States spoke to express the importance of the ordinance verbiage.
“This new ordinance will not help solve pet overpopulation problems, instead it will help create a black market of breeding and sales that cannot be regulated,” said Vanessa Gange of the National Animal Interest Alliance. “There is an opportunity here to draft an ordinance that can actually improve animal well-being and responsible business practices instead of driving the business underground.”
Once the council moved into its discussion regarding the item, Councilmember Shane Scott shared that he had a problem with shutting any business down due to it providing jobs. Scott also mentioned when this item was first brought up, he suggested that they work with the San Marcos Regional Animal shelter to assist with adoptions.
“I think shutting them down is foolish and I think there should be a way you can work through it to make it beneficial for the city in our animal control area,” Scott said.
Councilmember Mark Gleason also looked for clarification regarding what can be considered a business when selling dogs and cats.
“I know we might consider it a different situation but it’s what are unintended consequences here, right?” Gleason said. “I mean, to me, if I sell something, that could be considered a business. I mean, as far as the definition, if I’m making money, the federal government considers it a business if I make more than a few hundred dollars and I’ve got to pay taxes on it so I have issues with the verbiage on that.”
Councilmember Maxfield Baker wanted to confirm previous allegations concerning the animals’ conditions and health at the Pick A Pet made during the citizen comment period, to which Greg Carr, Director of Neighborhood Enhancement, clarified.
“We’ve had several inspections out there and we’ve never found anything wrong,” Carr said. “Based on the complaints that we’ve all received, the majority of the complaints are that where they’re sourcing their pets from and they are licensed breeders.”
According to Carr, the animals have looked healthy and taken care of during instances where they have visited the pet store.
“This body has had multiple conversations regarding standing up to like preexisting laws or practices because they’re inherently flawed and I think this is one of those situations,” Councilmember Alyssa Garza said. “We need to regulate this because it’s the right thing to do regardless of the structures that our government has attempted to put into place for the protection of the lives of the animals.”
Garza also emphasized the significance of wordage to protect the animals. Councilmember Jude Prather also expressed his appreciation for having the conversation and the significance of the topic.
Mayor Jane Hughson made the suggestion to refer the item to the Animal Services Council Committee, which is made up of herself, Garza and Scott. They would also work with county and community partners such as shelters and animal advocacy organizations.
“This kind of a topic would be something that is really great for the committee that’s forming so that we can flush out a lot of these things and take some comments from both sides and craft something that is better suited once it gets to council,” Carr said.