Mayor Assembles Task Force to Discuss Pet Shops in Light of Second Petland Death

The task force includes the chief of police and reps from Animal Control, Washington's Humane Society and the county SPCA.

Mayor Scott Silverthorne has assembled a task force to explore options the City might have for regulating animals businesses after a second puppy death at Petland. (Patch File Photo)
Mayor Scott Silverthorne has assembled a task force to explore options the City might have for regulating animals businesses after a second puppy death at Petland. (Patch File Photo)

Mayor Scott Silverthorne said Thursday he is assembling a working group to explore how Fairfax City can tighten standards for pet shops after he received “countless" emails and phone calls from residents disgusted by the actions of Petland.

On Wednesday, Patch reported that a puppy from the Fairfax City Petland died less than two weeks after being brought home by its new owners — who were then sued by the store for money it said was stilled owed for the puppy.

The death of the puppy, an 8-week-old Maltese named Ty, was the second reported in less than two months.

The mayor said he is unable to shut down the store but would ask for recommendations from the task force, which includes Chief of Police Rick Rappoport and representatives from the Animal Control division, the Washington Humane Society and Fairfax County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“We are exploring what kind of law enforcement or regulatory approaches we might be able to use,” Silverthorne told Patch. “We’re starting with taking a look at what all other states and localities have done that could apply here.”

Silverthorne said the biggest challenge is that small municipalities are bound by commonwealth law.

“We may not have enabling legislation that allows a locality like us to take stricter standards than the state allows,” he explained. “We can only pass ordinances the state says we can pass.”

One option might be the City’s zoning ordinance, he said - making animal-related businesses like Petland subject to an SUP, or subject use permit, meaning the city would only approve them to do business within the city limits if they meet certain standards of quality and care.

Another option may be conferring with State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Delegate David Bulova (D-Fairfax), to see about sponsoring some type of legislation, if needed.

“My goal was to try and assemble a group of well-informed individuals to help me with this,” he said. “If we have state-enabling authority to pass stricter laws, I want to do that. I will turn over every rock until I figure out just what exactly we might be able to do.”

“This is becoming a problem,” Silverthorne said. “As mayor, I think it’s important that I can take a stand on this.”

Councilmember Michael DeMarco said he supports the approach and agrees that something needs to be done.

“We need to hold business owners to a high standard of ethics and operating protocol - and when it comes to cases like this that involve animals, we need to elevate those standards even more,” DeMarco said. “We need to call this owner out, and talk to him.”

Councilmember Dan Drummond agreed and said he believes it is the city's responsibility to take these animal deaths seriously.

"The City wants to look out for the welfare of all our creatures, whether they're two-legged or four," he said. "We want to make sure animals are treated properly, no matter if in a private home or in a store."

"Even one death of an animal is too many, and it's very concerning that it now seems as though there have been multiple cases," he added.

Councilman DeMarco said citizens can help by informing authorities when they run into problems with such shops.

“Call Animal Control, and get them on your side right away,” he said.

Patch was unable to reach Petland general manager Kareem Koshok for comment.

TELL US - What do you think the City could or should do? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sandra Bishop October 04, 2013 at 09:42 AM
Thank you, Mayor Silverthorne!
Katie Naas Mahoney October 04, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Look into where these puppies are coming from. They were probably born to mothers living in deplorable conditions in a puppy mill somewhere.
Don Scott October 04, 2013 at 02:20 PM
This is outstanding and much needed! There is a "business" in Lisle, IL, named Puppy Parlor. Google it to learn of its citations including ties to puppy mills and allegations of dead animals found in their back room freezers. The mayor of Lisle is Joe Broda; he should feel ashamed to read this, but should take some lessons. This is true leadership; show me someone who gives a voice to the voiceless and I will recognize a humanitarian who cares about society as a whole including all its living creatures. It is criminal what pet stores and the breeding lobbies including AKC get away with; their actions are why we have puppy mills. And if you don't know about puppy mills please Google it to learn of their abuses. Animals need a voice and they need protection. That makes this a better world for all!
Ida Mccarthy October 04, 2013 at 08:41 PM
I'm sure this Mayor will be re-elected and all involved. Great job Mr. Silverthorne! I wish with all my heart and soul you were Lisle's Mayor. We have an actual, real puppy mill in Lisle, Illinois. Just like the kind you see in the rural parts of Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, etc. It's so shameful and disturbing. Thank you for speaking up for the voiceless.


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