VENICE — When July 1 rolls around, the three-year-old challenge to the county’s so-called puppy mill ordinance will come to an end with a victory for the county.
During their meeting Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a joint stipulation brought to them by County Attorney Rick Elbrecht that ends the litigation.
“The stipulation will get us the relief we were seeking,” Elbrecht told commissioners as he introduced the item for their consideration.
With an indication from the plaintiffs, BKG Pets and Lamar Parker Jr. which run a Petland franchise on Fruitville Road in Sarasota, that they would cease business when their lease ends on July 1, they and the county attorneys agreed to the stipulation.
The stipulation provides any remaining undecided legal claims raised by the plaintiffs will be moot, and that the county will not seek to enforce the ordinance against the business over the next three months.
Passed in early 2016, the ordinance banned the retail sale of puppies and kittens in the county beginning Jan. 27, 2017. That gave retail establishments selling these animals a year to come into compliance.
But three months before the ordinance took effect, the business and Parker sued the county challenging the legality of the ordinance, raising myriad constitutional and contractual claims.
Through motions and hearings, the county successfully defended the ordinance from several of the challenges raised by the business, although several claims still remained to be decided.
“I know this took a lot of work and a lot of various legal issues were brought up,” Commission Chairman Charles Hines said. “Congratulations.”
Added Commissioner Mike Moran, “You all did a great job on behalf of the taxpayers.”
Elbrecht was quick to give credit to Assistant County Attorney David Pearce, who represented the county in the lawsuit, for bringing it to a successful conclusion.