California, Georgia and Puppy Mills

The little town of Canton, Georgia, is following the lead of the state of California and setting the tone for the rest of Georgia by banning so-called puppy mills.  And the mayor of Canton says it was all because of his daughter.

Puppy from Athens Area Humane Society | Photo By: Nicholas Cordts

“My daughter was the one who brought this issue to my attention,” said Mayor Gene Hobgood. “She works with the ASPCA, and she told me that the Georgia Legislature was trying to take preemptive measures to take authority over pet store ordinances away from local control. ” Canton was the first but it was quickly followed by three others.  Athens isn’t one of them.

What does this all mean?

According to, an organization dedicated to a no-kill policy in animal shelters, only four cities in the state of Georgia have passed an ordinance to regulate the sale of puppy mill animals. These cities, in the order of when they enacted their ordinance, are Canton, Holly Springs, Waleska, and Woodstock. Canton was the first city to take action back in March of 2017.

“We wanted to pass the ordinance while we had the opportunity to prevent the sales before it happened,” said Hobgood. “We were able to do so because we don’t have any dog or cat pet stores in Canton. We have pet supply stores but no retail sales of dogs or cats.”

Hobgood said that Canton was number 223 in what’s now over 230 cities across the United States to have passed a puppy mill restricting ordinance.

“It would discourage puppy mills, and it would save tax dollars,” said Hobgood.

According to Hobgood, the ordinance would offer a break on tax dollars going to animal shelters because it would encourage the sale of animal shelter pets.

Who else is taking action?

Rescued kitten at Athens Area Humane Society | Photo By Nicholas Cordts

Actions to restrict the sale of commercially produced animals have been recently made at a much larger scale. According to the California Legislative website, Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill to ban the sale of puppy mill animals statewide. The bill was enrolled and presented to the governor at 12 p.m. on Sept. 25.

The American Kennel Club has expressed opposition to the new California bill. They argue against AB 485, stating that the proposed bill will make “obtaining a specific dog breed increasingly difficult.”

In their web post, Why Californians Need to Worry About AB 485, the “Pet Store” Bill, they argue that this ban will increase chances of a person getting a pet that isn’t the right match for their lifestyle. Their stance is, “When governments attempt to limit the legitimate sources from which a person may obtain a pet… it increases the likelihood that animals will end up in a shelter.”

What about Athens?

When asked why the city of Athens hasn’t passed a similar ordinance to ban puppy mills, Clerk of Commission, Jean Spratlin couldn’t recall any past instance to incite a puppy mill ban.

Painted entrance to Athens Area Humane Society | Photo By: Nicholas Cordts

“We haven’t had a puppy mill issue in Athens to my knowledge,” said Spratlin. “There would have to have been a need for that particular ordinance.”

The Humane Society of the United States found that one Athens pet store had a history of buying puppies from a large middleman animal dealer cited with multiple violations. The now out-of-business Petland off of Epps Bridge Road allegedly received shipments of underage puppies from the violating broker back in 2009.

Aside from the closed Athens Petland, the Athens Area Humane Society and Clerk of Commission indicate that there hasn’t been an immediate need for an ordinance in Athens to restrict the sale of commercially produced animals.


-Nicholas Cordts, Grady Environmental Journalism



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