Is it a puppy mill? That was the question that seemed to be on the minds of Wright City elected leaders while discussing a potential new business during a recent meeting.As part of the city board of …
Is it a puppy mill? That was the question that seemed to be on the minds of Wright City elected leaders while discussing a potential new business during a recent meeting.
As part of the city board of aldermen’s regular meetings, city staff sometimes bring up business entrepreneur inquiries. During a late-December discussion, City Administrator Jim Schuchmann told the aldermen that an interested person recently contacted City Hall to ask about the permissibility of a business capable of selling and transporting large numbers of puppies.
Schuchmann did not name the person who called, but said they had expressed interest in buying a building along Interstate 70 to establish a slew of puppy-related business functions.
“He’s wanting to put in a retail puppy store, a veterinary clinic, a puppy brokerage as a licensed broker for selling puppies, a puppy transport business — this would be 12 cargo vans that he would have fenced in an area — and then a dog auction service,” Schuchmann listed. “He’s wanting to know if this would be allowed in the city.”
Schuchmann added that the conversation started with a much simpler version of the business, but that every time he confirmed that a proposed function could be allowed, the entrepreneur asked if one more thing could be added.
“Most of these fall within our guidelines,” Schuchmann said, although some might require a conditional use permit, which allows the board of aldermen to set some restrictions on a business.
City Attorney Paul Rost stepped in to clarify that although city ordinances allow most of these business ideas individually, it would be questionable to assume they’re all allowed together under one roof.
The whole conversation made Wright City’s elected leaders hesitant, at best. They were quick with comparisons to similar businesses that turned out to be so-called puppy mills, where animals are abused or neglected.
“These organizations are getting shut down every time you turn around right now. This is a hot item in the state of Missouri,” commented Mayor Michelle Heiliger. “I don’t know that this guy is (a puppy mill) ... but what I know is this is a big deal right now.”
Alderman Karey Owens shared that her family bred dogs when she was young, and said she would want to know whether this brokerage is verifying the ethical conduct of breeders it works with to sell and auction dogs.
Board President Ramiz Hakim said a conditional use permit for the business would certainly be a requirement, and that whether or not the business would be allowed can’t be determined until it goes through the permitting process.
“But that’s part of the problem: He’s wanting an answer right now before he writes a contract on the building,” Schuchmann replied.
That answer is not going to happen without a lot more information, aldermen said. They also said it might be a challenge to arrange a meeting and discussion with the would-be broker.
“I don’t think he’s even from around here, because he asked what time zone we’re in,” Owens commented.
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