Puppy mill debate continues in Milwaukee

CREATED May 1, 2014

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MILWAUKEE -- There has been plenty of noise about a proposed city ordinance to ban puppy mills in the city of Milwaukee.

A big crowd showed up at city's public safety committee meeting Thursday morning, and the committee chair offered the first word - a rebuke, or rather a bone to pick with the dozens of people in attendance.

"I haven't seen an audience this big for infant mortality, teen pregnancy, lead poisoning, poverty and education," said Alderman Terry Witkowski.

The crowd found its voice anyway -- and the Aldermen listened. Many supporters stood at the mic and spoke up for their four legged friends.

"Dogs are allowed to be confined to tiny, wire bottom cages, stacked one on of top of each other, and those cages only need to be six inches larger than the dogs themselves," said supporter Elizabeth Oreck.

The proposal would ban pet stores from selling dogs that come from other places besides shelters, kennels, pounds or training facilities. 

Supporters claim other dogs come from breeders ripe with malnourishment and disease, but opponents said that puppy mill label doesn't apply to everyone

"We are dog advocates. We love dogs," said Sharon Turner, who owns Tiny Tykes Puppies on Milwaukee's south side. "We think they should all be treated humanely."

There are only a handful of stores who sell pets in Milwaukee.

"The people that want the puppies that we provide them with now, if they aren't available in the stores, they are going to go to underground sources," Turner said.

The meeting lasted more than an hour. The committee members agreed to hold it over for more debate. In their decision, committee members said they want to take a closer look at state law about puppy breeders.