Animal Services Advisory Board Supports Ban

Small Meeting — Big Result

Two County Commissioners, Vaughn Hartung and Marsha Berkbigler told PMFR activists in separate meetings they were inclined to take advice on the matter of a preventative ban in Washoe County from the Animal Services Advisory Board.

Due to Reno’s impending ban, which 1st reading could happen as early as late March, PMFR would like to see moratoria in local areas preventing stores from popping up outside Reno before bans might be implemented in outlying areas.

PMFR requested a special meeting to discuss this issue with Washoe County Regional Animal Services Advisory Board Chair, Reno City Council Vice Mayor Naomi Duerr, who called the special meeting for Thursday, February 27.

PMFR Founding Organizer Billy Howard was granted 10 minutes to present the issue to the board, composed of local council and commission members, a veterinarian, a member of a local non-profit shelter and members at large.

Mr. Howard then introduced former Puppies Plus employee, Hanna Ratliff, who spoke from the heart about the more than a dozen dogs that died in her arms while working at the store and abhorrent management policy. Few eyes were dry by the time she finished.

Hanna Ratliff speaking and Animal Services Director Schull

“The City of Sparks welcomes a puppy (mill) store with open arms!”

Council Member Charlene Bybee, County Commission public comment, Nov/Dec 2015.

With one exception, Sparks anti-animal rights/Libertarian activist Charlene Bybee, who once quipped “Sparks welcomes a puppy store with open arms!” at a County Commission meeting in 2015 and proved good on their word with the Schneider’s opening a Sparks store 6 months later, the disgraced puppy mill store Puppies Plus’ sister store, Puppy Love.

Ms. Bybee’s seemingly heartless speech after hearing a devastating testimonial from an eye witness, largely fell on deaf ears. Both Sparks Council members in the room parroted the same vapid talking point,

Sparks doesn’t want anyone telling us what to do!

Sparks Council members Charlene Bybee and Paul Anderson

An adolescent approach to democracy at best.

As an elected official, you have the vote, so of course no one’s telling you what to do. You get to decide for yourselves, that’s why we, your constituents, elected you: to help make decisions.

You can’t do that if you don’t listen to all sides.

Billy Howard, Founding Organizer, PMFR/S/W/C/D

To block out an enormous constituency with 20,000 local signatures and tremendous community support, seems to comes down to:

You know we would overwhelm you with FACTS that you don’t seem to want to hear because it just might lead you to do the right thing.

For some activists, who don’t want to budge from a position—tortured and dead dogs be damned—that churlish and adamant positioning could find constituents looking for better leadership when voting time comes around.

But no matter, each Advisory Board member discussed their position cogently, addressed that no one was trying to tell anyone what to do but act in their capacity as an advisory board, and the final vote was taken 5:1 in favor.


  • Naomi Duerr, Chair (Reno City Council
  • Annette Rink, Vice Chair (Veterinarian)
  • Kitty Jung (County Commission)
  • Jill Dobbs (SPCA Northern NV)
  • Irene Payne (at large)


  • Al Green (at large)


You guessed it:

  • Paul “No-One’s-Gonna-Tell-Sparks-What-To-Do” Anderson (Sparks City Council)
L > R: Director Schull and County staff, Paul Anderson, Jill Dobbs, Naomi Duerr, Anette Rink, Kitty Jung, Irene Payne, members of the public.

Members of the public who spoke included a man who harkened back to 1950’s thinking. In an unusual tack for this day-in-age, he extolled a nearly sociopathic stance that bought-and-paid-for animals were owned possessions and served naught bur their master’s pleasure.

Happy to say the thoughtful Board addressed, redressed and dressed down that archaic and frightening position. Check around for enormous amounts of dead squirrel heads in Cold Springs. That kind of backwoods thinking leads to animal maiming, torture and dismemberment. Which leads to human abuse and even murder.

Do Mass Killers Start Out By Harming Pets? Animal Abuse May Be an Early Warning Sign —Psychology Today, 2/20/2013.
John Q Public throws his weight and his opinions on subjugating animals around in his overtime and not well received public comment.

After the meeting, outnumbered and outflanked by people more compassionate than himself, with facilitation from Chair Duerr, Mr. Anderson admitted that the reason only 1 Sparks council member, Donald Abbott, responded to our many emails, telephone calls and appearances in public meetings asking for meetings, was, once again, it sounded to us like you were trying to tell us what to do. And he agreed, finally, to meet.

I cannot help but just be infuriated by this stance that flouts democracy in the face.

You were voted in by a constituency. We hired you to represent all of us. Why on earth anyone would say in an elected capacity we don’t even want to hear what you have to say is beyond the pale. I can’t help but say, after having been an activist in many cities across the country, this is the first time I’ve come across this kind of obfuscation. I grew up in Silicon Valley and was a programmer by the time I was 22. I was able to travel and live in many cities in the United States doing my work on my computer wherever I went. I’ve lived in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Saint Paul Minnesota, and New York City during and post 911. I have always been locally active on a range of issues from childhood with an human rights activist parent. I even addressed Mayor Bloomberg over an issue concerning smoking in restaurants in New York, which passed, thankfully.

All this to say, that Sparks has refused to meet with a constituency over which we are just asking to be heard and hopefully have some debate on the dais over the issue, is, in the end, absolutely mind-boggling.

We hope that the signal from Anderson for a meeting shows we may make some inroads on this finally. We understand that we might not convince elected officials of our case, we just want the opportunity to present it in this best of all possible democracies.

Two 2020 bans had stores

Our sister site, is reporting jurisdictions that are passing bans that have active stores in them is on the rise. Our current count is 72, though there may be more.


The long-standing fight in Naperville, Illinois finally came to a righteous conclusion last month when a 6 year battle—only bested by our battle in Reno which has had overwhelming support for passage for 7 years—finally passed putting beleaguered Petland and Happiness is Pets on notice: when 2021 comes along, no more puppy mill store dogs and cats in your windows.


Olympia, Washington had a live animal sales pet store for only a matter of weeks before a veterinarian council member said, “Enough is enough!”

The council’s first reading (video timestamp 25:00) passed unanimously. Hopefully the small franchise’s store in Puyallup will undergo the same fate with an 8th ban passed in Washington state.


No Matter How Court Rules We Need Bans to End Puppy Stores

Very few might know this history: Reno’s current puppy stores got here because a convicted felon sold them when he went to jail.

The Franks family owned Brock’s Pups in South Lake Tahoe, Lil’ Pups in Carson City and Puppy World in Meadowood Mall.

In 2009, Old Man Franks was removed in handcuffs from his SLT store: arrested for drug trafficking to minors.

His grandson and another employee were likewise arrested for parole violations.

Found guilty and sentenced to 11 years, Mr. Franks put his stores up for sale.

Franks found buyers in Joe Young and Mike Schneider, who renamed the store Pets-R-Us. It subsequently closed, after mounting public pressure spearheaded by Puppy Mill Free Reno, including pressure from the conglomerate Mall Management based in New York City.

According to Mr. Young, Mr. Schneider and he were to go in halves on the purchase, but Mr. Schneider reneged on the deal at the 11th hour. Joe went ahead with the purchase and hired Mr. Schneider as general manager, which he performed for 6 months to the day when he quit and opened a rival store, the now scandal-ridden Puppies Plus. It could be inferred he had the funds all along.

Northern Nevada Can’t Let This Happen Again

Should the jury find Mr. and Mrs. Schneider guilty, everyone thinks the stores will close.

The store closing permanently is not the likely case!

Though the Schneiders may be barred from interacting with animals, they may be allowed to own the stores, but not manage them.

Or the judge may include in his sentence that the Schneiders may no longer own businesses having to do with animals.

And then they sell them.

And we know of at least one potential willing buyer. Actually, two.

That’s right. Guilty or not, jail time or not, stores could continue in Sparks, Carson City, Incline Village and other unincorporated areas of Washoe County unless councils and commissions all the way to Douglas County PASS THE BAN WE’VE BEEN ASKING FOR SINCE 2013.

Reno is taking care of the problem by passing a prohibition on the sale of dogs and cats in retail stores including current stores and hopefully effective immediately upon passage in the Spring.

All local jurisdictions must follow suit

Puppy Mill Free Reno/Sparks/Washoe asked our former Sparks City Council champion, now state senator, Julia Ratti last October to sponsor statewide legislation banning puppy stores. She heartily agreed.

Hopefully we’ll see a statewide ban after the next legislature meets in 2021, but the more towns pass a ban, the more likely a statewide ban would follow suit.

And there’s another scenario that has a 50% chance of happening: the Schneiders are found innocent. 😱

4th Statewide Puppy Mill Store Ban in World, 3rd in US

Even whilst Maryland’s statewide ban is being challenged in court (it will lose like 13 other attempted lawsuits), Maine’s Governor Janet Mills has moved the legislature’s 6 month old bill to law.

Our sister site Puppy Mill Free US reports extensively on the history of Maine’s ban, which could have been the first in the world back in 2015 in their article Maine’s Convoluted Path to a Ban.

Meanwhile, the Puppy Mill Free.US global tracking map has a new blue state!



2020 State of the State: Bye-Bye Puppy Stores!

Have talked to a lot of elected officials over the past 4 months: one thing seems to be clear at the start of the new year: they all signal they are DONE with puppy stores.

To the person, they all think the trial will find the Schneiders guilty followed with the requisite closing of both stores they own.

Makes us uneasy as the trial could go either way. And frankly—it seems anyway—the more confident a party the more the surprise when the jury foreperson declares

“We the jury have found the defendants…

(pause…. drama….)

NOT guilty!”

Asked about such a contingency they all have declared, “Well, then we’ll have to see what steps we will have to take….”

Making it feel pretty certain that one way or another the stores will be closing, whether through ordinance such as in Reno or by the recent licensing requirement of the stores that could have Animal Services bear down on them in such a way the owners would cry “Uncle!”

Reno’s ban

Reno’s ban was unanimously voted by Council to include the current store on October 23rd after activists pitched a fit at the September 19th emergency meeting when staff told Council the current store would have to be exempted from the ban. Billy Howard spoke in public comment again at the conclusion of the meeting asking staff to cite what ordinance or state law precludes the current store from a ban and that we were going back to the problems of 2015 with staff being the “tail wagging the dog.” The community has wanted an end to puppy mill stores since 2013 and staff has made the appearance of countering that mandate from its inception.

At the subsequent October 23rd meeting, the City Council was unanimous in including the current store in the ban. PMFR was in constant contact with staff liaison Angela Fuss during that period providing statistics on bans that included current stores and the average frequency of amortization, which was low: 1 month, with a number of recent bans effective immediately. That was then included by staff in the pitch to the council for the ban going forward.

Staff has until April 24th, 6 months from passage, to produce an ordinance (and its placement in code) for the Council to vote on, likely yet another unanimous vote. Bonnie Weber was against us when she was a county commissioner, citing the northern territories of Washoe County are adamantly against any kind of animal rights or even animal welfare protections, but remained silent during council comment period. Council Member Brekhus is a contentious player, but even she voted to include the current store under a ban which passed unanimously.

Timeline to passage

If staff is able to produce the ordinance by the deadline and doesn’t ask for an extension, Council will vote on the ordinance—which seems very likely to pass—then another period has to go by of either 2 weeks or 1 month for the second reading of the ordinance to become law. There’s another period of 2 weeks to 1 month where state law requires an ordinance change to be published in the local newspaper before the law can be enacted.

Activists have to be prepared that there may be a request for an extension because of the convoluted nature of Reno’s laws within the entanglement of the “Interlocal Agreement.” Humane Society of the United States lawyers have offered to produce an ordinance, but it cannot be the cookie-cutter version that was originally pioneered by local activist Dawn Armstrong in South Lake Tahoe in 2009. To get it right and without objection from Washoe County, that could take time. PMFR activists are involved in this process after Mayor Schieve directed staff to work with us on the matter.

Reno’s ban, therefore, could be enacted as early as May 22 or as late as July 1. And that’s with an “effective immediately” clause. If there’s a 1 to 6 month amortization period, the effective date could be pushed out to next fall.

PMFR activists have been working in the background to push for an effective immediately clause in the ordinance. It is the most common amortization as we have demonstrated through the data found on Puppy Mill Free.US.

Subscribe to our calendar and this blog for timeline updates.


Sparks, by the way, is excluded in all this. They just simper at activists from the dais when asked to meet with them. The Libertarian juggernaut that is the Sparks Council is immovable. But when Schneiders are found guilty, the matter will, finally, be out of their hands. We’d sure like to see an ordinance there preventing any future stores from coming in and starting the whole mess 0ver again. Anyone who does any mild amount of research will come to the same conclusion:

There are no good puppy mill stores.

An awful lot of questions remain and we blanch at the cavalier attitude to a jury trial, especially after witnessing the Writ hearing where it was clear to all the DA of the day could have been stronger.

But the bottom line is as in our top line: Local officials are sick of the hot mess that are puppy stores and the community is marching to end them.

We all wish it would be sooner than later.

Doing our most to close loopholes in the upcoming Reno ban

We’ve been in on meetings to develop the ordinance language for the Reno ban that City Council Members voted unanimously t0 not include a grandfathering clause. The entire council aims to end puppy and kitten sales in retail stores as soon as possible.

We’ve submitted to City Staff ordinances with very strong penalties per instance per day, ($2500) and strong definitions of rescues to spear the problem California is having with David Salinas.

Our immense local hardcopy signature petition of 20,000 stated on each and every page the retail sales of:

  • dogs
  • cats
  • rabbits
  • ferrets

We also now would include:

  • pot-bellied pigs
  • guinea pigs
  • long-lived birds
  • large reptiles
  • certain turtles
  • certain chicks

Royal Oak, MI: Ferrets

§ 195-36 Sale of dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets by retail pet stores prohibited. 

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it shall be unlawful for a retail pet store to sell or offer for sale a dog, cat, rabbit, or ferret. A retail pet store may provide space to an animal control shelter, as defined in MCLA § 287.331(f), or an animal rescue organization, as defined in this article, to offer to the public dogs, cats, rabbits, or ferrets, provided that the retail pet store shall not have any ownership interest in the animals offered and shall not receive any fee for providing space or for the adoption of any of the animals.

Royal Oak Municipal Code

Pot-Bellied Pigs from Mesquite and North Las Vegas bans

6.13.145 – Limitations on pet shop sales

A. No pet shop shall display, sell, deliver, offer for sale, barter, auction, give away, broker or otherwise transfer or dispose of a dog, cat, rabbit or potbellied pig, except for a dog, cat, rabbit or potbellied pig obtained from an animal shelter, nonprofit humane society or nonprofit animal rescue organization.

North Las Vegas Ordinance

Guinea Pigs from Key West Florida

Pet means a dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, or guinea pig.

Sec. 10-255. – Prohibitions.

(a) Sale or transfer of pets. No pet store shall display, sell, trade, deliver, barter, lease, rent, auction, give away, transfer, offer for sale or transfer, or otherwise dispose of pets on or after the effective date of this section unless the pet store is exempt under [section] 10-256.

Key West Municipal Code

Certain Chicks and Turtles from Sandy City and Midvale, Utah bans:

(e) Fowl:

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale, barter or give away any fowl under two (2) months of age in any quantity less than six (6). Such animals shall not be artificially dyed or colored. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to prohibit the raising of such fowl by a private individual for his personal use and consumption, provided that he shall maintain proper brooders and other facilities for the care and containment of such animals while they are in his possession.

Midvale Municipal Code

(g) Pet turtles:

It shall be unlawful for any petshop or other business or person to raise or sell any turtle, tortoise or terrapin under four(4) inches front to back carapace length

Sandy Municipal Code

Cambridge MA: arachnids, birds, mammals, amphibians, or reptiles

6.20.020 – Prohibition on Retail Sales.

A. A pet shop may offer for sale only those arachnids, birds, mammals, amphibians, or reptiles that the pet shop has obtained from or displays in cooperation with:

1. An animal care facility, as defined in section 6.20.010 of this chapter; or
2. An animal rescue organization, as defined in section 6.20.010 of this chapter; or
3. An animal sold or displayed for agricultural uses; or
4. Dead animals sold or displayed as breeder animals.

Cambridge Municipal Code

Is Sparks setting itself up to be a puppy store ban juggernaut?

SmithWe’ve written several time directly to Mayor Smith and City Manager Krutz asking for a meeting with Sparks residents in tow, including one who submitted papers to the DA for a bad situation she had with her Puppies Plus purchase.

Activists have even gone to a Council meeting asked to meet with Council members during public open comments. The response? There hasn’t been one.

Photo: Sparks Mayor Ron Smith

We did have one meeting with Ward 1 Council Member Donald Abbott. He heard our position graciously and thoughtfully and then mentioned that other Council Members would also meet with us and then we’d see what the next steps might be. He, caring though he is and wise beyond his years, was wrong. No one else has returned our numerous emails and phone calls.

Back in 2015, Puppy Mill Free Reno/Sparks asked activists to join us at the Washoe County Commission meeting wherein Regional Animal Services Manager (not the Director) was giving an update on regulations they had hoped to codify from the 2014 public meetings they hosted in order to meet NRS where the NV Legislature required all counties in Nevada to update their animal code to the strength of state animal laws, or make the stronger. Curiously, Washoe County was the last county in the state to make the updates which came years after all other Nevada counties updated theirs. Incompetence much?

And we were there to simply make the statement: The public doesn’t want more rules and regulations or loopholes through which puppy stores can wriggle. The public, in the form of 20,000 local hardcopy signatures, wants an end to the sales of dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets in retail stores. End of story.

BybeeThe local and very small anti-animal rights activist network responded as if there were a vote being made that day to ban puppy stores in the County, which was not the case. They came there to defend the Schneiders, which on the whole, didn’t go over well, except with activist Commission member Jeanne Herman.

One of the anti-animal rights activists was Sparks City Council Member Charlene Bybee who made waves when she used her 3 minute public comment period to proclaim, complete with gestures:

Photo: Activist Council Member Bybee

Should Mr. Schneider want to have a store in our town, Sparks welcomes a puppy store with open arms!

Activist Sparks Council Member Charlene Bybee

KrutzSure that Reno was about to pass a ban on the sales of dogs, cats and rabbits (we were, too), Schneider took Bybee up on the offer—can’t help but wonder if the City gave him an incentive—and he opened Puppy Love in the back of a sparsely occupied strip mall in the northern reaches of the city without signage facing the main roads. Puppies are often an impulse purchase and the store being stuck “in a booth in the back in the corner in the dark” makes you wonder….

Photo: Sparks City Manager Krutz

But Reno finally is passing an ordinance that will end the store’s legal trade in puppies by late Spring 2020, latest.

But the Schneiders will be able to continue to sell to Reno residents and have them pick their puppy mill puppies up at the Sparks store. Just as now you see CA license plates, where puppy stores have been illegal since the first of the year, at Puppies Plus.

Reno’s ban will be effective in ending impulse purchases in the brick and mortar, but the Sparks Council’s welcome mat might make the whole thing moot. Why?


Shame on them!

We were forwarded a response, the one and only, it appears, from a community member who Mrs. Bybee responded to, in which she stated the Council was awaiting the outcome of the jury trial to see what their next steps are. Seems likely, as in the case of Reno, if the accused are found guilty the City has the ability to pull their license.

But with Mrs. Bybee being an activist for their cause and is not a person, so we are told, who tackles kindly to losing face, the Council may not do anything whether guilty or not. It could be Mrs. Bybee’s device to ride out the prolonged time to trial (Schneiders waived their right to a speedy trial so they could continue selling through the holiday impulse purchase season), and then choose to let Washoe County Regional Animal Services use their newly instituted Commercial Animal Welfare Permit to take the store to task in the end with Sparks taking a hands off approach.

RattiAnd if all else fails, we can hope the Draft Bill being presented by Senator Julia Ratti, a champion of us when she was Council Member for Ward 1, and a Sparks resident, will pass in the 2021 session and end this long-term cock-up once and for all.

Photo: Nevada State Senator Julia Ratti


Write to all the members of the Sparks City Council and the City Manager and ask them to please meet with Puppy Mill Free Reno/Sparks to discuss a proposal that 350 other US cities and counties have undertaken in the interest of animal welfare and consumer protection.

Puppy Mill Free Reno website with email link.