Menifee City Council Ad Hoc Committee Will Study Issues Regarding Dog, Cat Breeding

The Menifee City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to conduct an ad hoc committee study of dog and cat...

The Menifee City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to conduct an ad hoc committee study of dog and cat breeding and puppy mills within the city.

This action was the result of a discussion item introduced by council member Wallace Edgerton to consider banning the sale of dogs and cats in the city. Edgerton explained that the focus of his proposal was animal abuse that in some cases appears to be the result of neglect by breeders in the area.

"Council member (Tom) Fuhrman and I have both had previous experience where dogs have been abused, and we're concerned about the response of the Animal Friends of the Valleys," Edgerton said, referring to the agency with which the city contracts. "When I lived in a rural area of the city, dogs were dumped, abused, and many were hit and killed on Scott Road."

Edgerton cited a recent ordinance adopted by Aliso Viejo banning the sale of animals from commercial breeders at local stores. This ordinance, designed to reduce inhumane treatment of animals by regulating pet sales, is the latest of several such ordinances adopted by Orange County cities.

Carmen Cave, Menifee's planning director, is a member of the Aliso Viejo City Council that unanimously approved that ordinance in May. Edgerton's request was that the City Council use the Aliso Viejo ordinance as a resource in referring the matter to Menifee city staff for review and possible recommendation.

Several residents, reacting to prior announcement of this agenda discussion item and previous media coverage of the issue, spoke Tuesday night in opposition of an outright ban.

"This could affect people who have legitimate pet shops," said Sun City resident Ann Pica during the public comments section of the meeting. "We're supposed to be business friendly, and I don't think we should take away revenue by telling people they can't sell dogs or cats."

Edgerton said his primary concern was the mistreatment of animals that are bred but not sold or are later abandoned.

"I'm more concerned with the breeding," he said. "It's a concern when animals are euthanized because they have more animals than they know what to do with."

Mayor John Denver, who voted against the motion to send the matter to the council's ad hoc committee, said he believes in the system of code violations that already is in place for such offenders.

"This is a solution without a problem," Denver said. "We have a code for this. I think we have a consensus that we need to work with the present code enforcement on this issue."

After several minutes of discussion, Council member Darcy Kuenzi made the motion to send the matter to the council's ad hoc committee -- composed of herself and Fuhrman.

"I'm not familiar with how this issue affects Menifee directly," she said. "I'm willing, as a member of the ad hoc committee, to do some research on this and report back to council."

That report will be given to the City Council at its next meeting on July 17. Council members voted Tuesday to cancel the July 3 meeting.

Approval by the City Council of its budget for the upcoming fiscal year was simply a formality during the consent calendar portion of the meeting. The $37 million budget proposal originally presented by city staff and discussed by the council on June 5 was approved unanimously.


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