After more than six months of deliberation, the New Braunfels Animal Services Advisory Board on May 4 recommended an ordinance to regulate the sale of dogs and cats in retail pet shops.

New Braunfels officials began considering potential regulations in October after City Council members recommended that the board should discuss options for an ordinance to address commercial animal sales.

City staff reviewed similar ordinances in other cities in Texas when drafting the options, said Christopher Looney, planning and development services director for the city.

One option the officials evaluated was an ordinance passed by San Antonio in October 2020 that banned the commercial sale of pets within city limits.

The newly recommended ordinance in New Braunfels prohibits retail pet shops from the sale, lease or transfer of a dog or cat unless the animal was obtained by the shop from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization, according to city documents.

Additionally, the board recommended amending the definition of “animal welfare organization” in the existing code of ordinances.

Previously, an animal welfare organization was defined as “any not for profit group with 501(c)(3) status whose primary mission includes animal welfare,” according to city documents.

The recommended amendment adds the stipulation that such organizations do not include an entity that breeds animals or one that purchases pets from other breeders.

As with the ordinance in San Antonio, private breeders who sell directly to the public are not affected by the ordinance.

A one-year grace period for existing pet shops to come into compliance has also been included in the recommended ordinance, Looney said.

“That language amounts to delayed enforcement of the new restrictions against existing pet shops for a year,” he said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper. “One of the reasons to include a reasonable grace period is so that the ordinance would be less likely to impair any pre-existing private contracts an existing business might have with vendors.”

The grace period would begin when the ordinance is adopted if the proposal is approved by City Council.

Following the board’s recommendation, city staff will schedule a first reading for a future council meeting, Looney said, but an introductory presentation will likely take place before the ordinance is presented as an action item.

A date for the proposed ordinance to be presented has not been determined.