BAR HARBOR — The sale of cats and dogs from so-called puppy or kitten mills and the display of wild and exotic animals are prohibited here following public hearings and Town Council changes to the town’s animal ordinance Tuesday.
The first change is that the sale of dogs and cats is allowed only if the pet shop has obtained them from “an animal care facility” or “an animal rescue organization.” This language is aimed at discouraging puppy mills from operating in the area.
Bar Harbor has no pet stores currently, but Diana de los Santos of the Hancock County SPCA said in September that puppy and kitten mills are active in the region.
“We see a lot of it creeping in,” she said. “They’re coming up from the south; there’s a lot more than you know. We try to use a network through the state to get these animals in the right place.”
Potential shops also would not be allowed to offer dogs and cats younger than eight weeks old.
The second ordinance change prohibits the display of wild and exotic animals, like those in a traveling circus. For every animal displayed, there would be a $500 fine.
De los Santos, Bar Harbor’s animal control officer, said Tuesday that the dog breeders she has interacted with on the island are mostly responsible and don’t “want to sell to a pet shop.”
“They want to meet the people who buy their dogs,” she said.
Katie Hansberry, Maine senior state director of The Humane Society of the United States, said in a press release that she “applauds” the council’s passing of these amendments.
“This brings us one step closer to the day when puppy mills have nowhere left to sell, and elephants, lions, tigers, bears and other wild animals are no longer subjected to a life of misery in traveling shows,” she said. “We urge other cities and towns across the state to follow suit.”
Both amendments passed unanimously and are effective immediately.