- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a measure Thursday that blocks cities from banning commercial breeders in pet stores, a move critics say undermines efforts to prevent the sale of puppies raised inhumanely.

The law will overturn ordinances in Phoenix and Tempe and a proposal in Tucson that require pet stores to only sell rescue and shelter animals in an effort to thwart breeders who raise dogs in cruel conditions known as puppy mills.

Ducey said the proposal he signed will do more to protect animals than the city ordinances.

“Shutting down the good guys will do nothing to stop the bad actors. Rather it will open the doors for more puppy sales through unregulated sources, where abuse and inhumane conditions are more likely,” he said in a statement.

The proposal also requires pet stores to display the name of the animal’s breeder. It also sets standards for allowing commercial breeders to sell their animals in pet stores and would add penalties for pet stores that violate the new rules.

Puppies ‘N Love owner Frank Mineo said the bill strikes a balance between protecting animals and allowing his business to succeed.

“Supporting this bill will ensure that puppies being sold in pet stores are coming from responsible breeders,” he said, during a committee hearing.

Some say the effort takes away local authority from cities and towns.

“We do believe that local communities would be able to determine what’s best for them,” said Kellye Pinkleton, Arizona director of the Humane Society of the U.S.

The Humane Society of the U.S. initially opposed the legislation, but changed its stance to neutral after the lawmakers amended the bill to add stiffer penalties and more disclosure of the breeders behind the puppies for sale.

Republican lawmakers who supported the measure said it has less to do with puppies than regulating businesses, but others said federal standards for breeding dogs are callous.

Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said federal guidelines allow breeders to keep dogs in cramped cages stacked atop one another for weeks at a time. Farley condemned Ducey’s actions as doublespeak Thursday.

“I think people want sincerity, people want honesty out of a governor. To sign a bill that is manifestly inhumane then to say you are against animal cruelty, it just doesn’t pass that test,” he said.

Ducey, an animal lover, recently signed a bill that outlaws greyhound racing in the state. Last year, he vetoed a bill changing animal cruelty laws that activists said weakened protections for farm animals.

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