Despite potential Grove City Council action that could impact its operations, Petland will open its new Grove City store as scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

Despite potential Grove City Council action that could impact its operations, Petland will open its new Grove City store as scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

"We have a lot of special events planned for our grand-opening celebration," said Elizabeth Kunzelman, director of public affairs for Petland.

City Council is expected to hold a second reading and vote March 7 on an ordinance that would require pet stores to sell only dogs and cats it has obtained or displays in cooperation with an animal rescue, shelter or humane society.

Even though Petland will open before a vote on the ordinance, "there will be no grandfather clause if it passes," said Councilman Ted Berry, who is sponsoring the legislation.

"It would have a definite impact on our business," Kunzelman said. "We're hoping to be able to work with City Council to come up with a workable solution."

The company has reached out to local shelters and humane societies, she said.

"The problem is that there are not a lot of dogs available we can use," Kunzelman said. "It's a problem of availability."

The store's kennel system is limited in its ability to handle large-breed dogs, she said.

How the legislation's requirements would impact the Grove City store will be addressed by Petland if and when the new restrictions go into effect, Kunzelman said.

Other provisions of the legislation would allow pet stores to sell only animals that are at least 8 weeks old.

The measure also would require a pet store to maintain a record of the animal rescue, shelter or humane society that each dog or cat it sells came from for at least two years following the date of acquisition.

A label would need to be displayed on each cage stating the rescue, shelter or humane society from where each animal was acquired.

City Council had approved a special-use permit in December to allow Petland to build and open a store on London-Groveport Road, but the new legislation resulted from concerns about where Petland gets the animals it sells.

Kunzelman said Petland does not obtain any of the pets it sells from so-called "puppy mills."

Another large crowd of people attended the Feb. 16 City Council meeting and almost all who spoke were in favor of the legislation.

"The USDA termed the phrase puppy mill to describe facilities that breed large volumes of dogs who are sold to stores like Petland. High profits are the goal at the expense of substandard conditions and the health of many of the animals," said Grove City resident Leslie Cohen-Smith. "Grove City has a unique ability to be an example and make a statement on behalf of those unlucky dogs."

Councilman Jeff Davis noted it is likely some retailers in Grove City sell items manufactured in overseas countries whose workers work in conditions and for low wages that would not be tolerated in America.

"But we don't ask these questions when retailers come into Grove City and we never hear anything from anyone," he said.

He asked why City Council has the right to restrict a business such as Petland even though the company is not doing anything illegal, "and arguably the connection between other retailers and some manufacturers in other countries may be illegal," he said.

"What's different is this is something we can do something about," Councilwoman Laura Lanese said. "We can control it."

Councilman Steve Bennett said despite similar measures adopted by about 100 communities nationwide, no puppy mills have been shut down.

"This needs to be handled at the federal level," he said. "(We need to contact) our representatives in Congress and the president and say it's time for this nonsense to stop."

Petland's store opening Saturday will include cookie sales by Girl Scout troops and an appearance by Grove City police officer Brian Kitko and his K-9 partner, Max, Kunzelman said.

The company provides food for K-9 units in central Ohio and will feed Max as well, she said.

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