Frisco City Council reviews animal sales ordinance, considers strengthened provisions and advisory committee

City Council on April 19 was joined by more than a dozen community members that included employees of the Frisco Petland and animal advocates. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)

Frisco City Council members are considering whether to strengthen regulations on the retail sale of animals in pet stores.

City Council on April 19 was joined by more than a dozen community members, including employees of the Frisco Petland and animal advocates.

On Jan. 21, 2020, City Council approved the ordinance that requires animal retailers to provide information on pets for sale, such as animal origin, health and previous care.

A presentation by Assistant Chief of Police Billy Clay indicated that 13 total violations have been documented since that date. Clay said all violations involved missing or incomplete paperwork, and that no violations revolved around the care of animals.

“When this ordinance was enacted, it was a way for us to make sure that the owner or the potential buyer was receiving information where they can make an informed decision,” Clay said.

Council members in recent months have discussed potentially modeling city policy off of House Bill 1818, which was introduced by state Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, in the 87th regular session last year.

The bill would have prohibited retail pet stores in Texas from selling dogs and cats not sourced from animal control agencies, an animal shelter or an animal rescue organization, according to the city. HB 1818 passed in both the House and Senate but was never signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, according to the Texas Legislature website.

Fellow and former employees joined Petland Manager Joshua Nie on April 19, advocating for their business. Jake Patel, owner of Frisco Petland, said his business would shut down in 30 days if the city started limiting animal sourcing.

“We’re very focused. We review the ordinance every day. [We] keep our [heads] down, work hard and go home. We don’t showboat,” Nie said. “I feel like we’re vilified all of the time.”

Mayor Jeff Cheney said the ordinance has been “effective” after reviewing the violation numbers. However, he said there was an opportunity to strengthen the policy to prevent potential mistreatment of animals in Frisco and that the animal ordinance is likely a topic City Council will have to continually review in years to come.

“It sounds like there’s a willingness to certainly strengthen and work with the city,” Cheney said. “At the very least, I think we do that. We can make it stronger without putting additional burden on our already-strained police resources.”

Council Member Brian Livingston said he struggled with potentially shutting down a small business and saw it as a form of governmental overreach. Livingston suggested auditing three years of sales at Petland and waiting to see whether any state legislation on the subject passes.

“I personally would like to wait and see a response from Petland corporate before we make any decision about where we’re going and maybe get more updates on the Senate bill,” he said.

The creation of a pet advisory committee was also considered on April 19. Such a committee would include representatives appointed by council members, according to preliminary discussion. Members would discuss volunteering and education opportunities.

“We’re always trying to find ways to involve our citizens more,” Cheney said. “Clearly, we have citizens passionate about it surrounding this topic.”