Humane Society asks Iowa City council members for ban on 'puppy mill' pets

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The Humane Society wants to see a ban in Iowa City on "puppy mills," and one local business owner says they feel attacked after a letter to council members was in direct rebuttal of their presentation.

At a recent city council meeting, Ron Solsrud, the co-owner of Petland Iowa City expressed concerns over a potential ordinance that would ban the sale of "commercially-raised" pets. Solsrud cited in a letter to council members on April 15 there are 1,500 dog breeders licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture, making them the approved breeders for pet stores, citing the USDA.

In a letter to council members on April 29, the Humane Society of the United States responded to the letter and presentation by Solsrud, using words like "laughable," "easily countered," and "hard to stomach."

The city has not officially proposed an ordinance, but hundreds of cities across the country and the states of California and Maryland have implemented bans on commercially-raised pets.

Petland brands itself as a place to "meet your new best friend." In a letter written to council members by the Humane Society, they draw specific concerns to where those friends are coming from.

"The history of the Petland in Iowa City of allegedly working to improve breeder conditions in the state and the Midwest just does not add up," said Preston Moore, the Iowa State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Solsrud read the letter provided to council members, and compared the attack to "David and Goliath."

In a response written by Solsrud obtained by TV9, he writes the Humane Society's letter is "full of inaccuracies and misrepresentations, as should be expected from a radical, political organization."

"Wendy [co-owner] and I travel 1,000 miles every week, and that's been for 13 years, to do exactly what they're driving to do- and that is to get rid of puppy mills," Solsrud said.

Moore said the puppies in Petland Iowa City come from "some of the worst breeders in the Midwest."

In a letter to city council, they cite several USDA violations from several breeders Petland has worked with, including dental diseases, eye problems, and unsanitary conditions at a number of locations.

Solsrud refutes those claims- and says the evidence shows in their work. Solsrud wrote their store is "fully transparent," adding they "provide USDA inspection reports and breeder information to our customers."

"We're all about pet welfare," Solsrud said. "Not only at the breeder, but all the way through that pet ownership."

Moore would welcome and respect if an ordinance were drawn up, offering his organization's support and guidance.

"We'll be there to help them draft that ordinance, if they'd like; otherwise we can continue to provide information for them," Moore said.

So would Solsrud- who says he wants to be a part of the solution to eliminate puppy mills.

"To make it so that they continue to help us do the right thing- and that is working with those breeders out there," Solsrud said.