NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Changes could be coming to the way North Myrtle Beach handles its animals.
An ordinance to amend the city’s animal laws passed its first reading at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Tina Hunter, the Executive Director at the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, is behind the initiative.
“The majority of the ordinance was written to ban the sale of puppies and cats in pet shops,” Hunter said. “We want to make sure we don’t have a situation in North Myrtle Beach where a shop opens with puppies bred in a puppy mill.”
Instead, she says, the new law would ensure that dogs and cats available in stores would only come from adoption centers.
“It’s really important to us to make sure the puppies available to the public in the city are shelter pets,” Hunter said.
Hunter has been drafting the ordinance since February and says she is “ecstatic” that her efforts are being backed by the city.
“We’re very fortunate here in North Myrtle Beach to have leadership and council members that support us wholeheartedly,” she said. “They believe in what we do here at the shelter.”
City Council Member Nikki Fontana included.
“Anything we can do to be proactive and make their lives better, that’s what we’re here for,” Fontana said.
Council Member Fontana explained that not only would this change affect pet stores, it would place stricter guidelines on leaving pets in cars.
“We’re doing this to give animal control the tools that they can enforce this with,” she said. “You can see we have visitors that will leave their animals in there for a few minutes. And you just can’t do that in this heat.”
Pet stores are not regulated federally or by the state, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Horry County, however, requires Animal Control to inspect stores that sell over 25 dogs and cats yearly.
Hunter is hoping that neighboring communities follow North Myrtle’s lead on strengthening animal laws.
“We hope to prove to the other communities in our neighborhoods that if the city of North Myrtle Beach beleives in humane ordinances,” she said. “That the rest of the cities in our county will get on board and enact ordinances similar to this.”
The proposal also includes new guidelines surrounding tethering dogs. It still has to pass a second reading at the next city council meeting before it is officially adopted.