This article originally appeared in the Friday Nov. 15, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
After listening to concerns from members of the public, Alton city commissioners voted to move forward with an ordinance that prohibits unlicensed animal sales in the city.
The ordinance is an amendment to the city charter preventing selling animals on the side of the road that now includes sale of animals in flea markets.
“At the last commission meeting we had members of the community with concerns in regard to animals being sold at flea markets and concerns with their conditions,” city Planning Director Cristina Garcia said. “Staff coordinated an ordinance that prohibits animal sales at flea markets and animal cruelty. This will alleviate public concerns.”
At a commission meeting last month, members of the local advocacy group Paws for a Cause spoke during the meeting’s public comment period, citing a need to ban the sale of animals in flea markets, of which Alton has two of within city limits.
Members of the organization attended Tuesday’s meeting and cheered when the new ordinance was unanimously passed. After the meeting, they expressed an interest in partnering with the city for more opportunities to protect the animal population in Alton.
“We’re very pleased and look forward to working with the city for more opportunities like offering spaying and neutering to prevent overpopulation,” member Mimi Reyes said. “By spaying or neutering one animal, you’ll be saving the lives of thousands of dogs or cats that won’t be pushed to live on the streets.”
Members previously shared concerns on the conditions of animals being sold at Ochoa’s Flea Market, located near Conway Avenue and Mile 4 where they found parakeets crowded in cages, piglets covered in flies and vendors selling puppies in feces covered cages.
With the new ordinance, pets can only be sold on the “premises where the owner’s pet resides,” the ordinance states.
“The adoption of these regulations will allow for proper sale of animals in a licensed business with the animals (sic) proper documentation and will ensure the general public safety, health, and the welfare of the citizens as well as the animals of Alton,” the ordinance states.
The ordinance will go into effect in 60 days, City Manager Jeff Underwood said. During those 60 days, the city’s code enforcement officers, animal control officer and police officers will educate the public by going to the flea markets to let vendors be aware of the ordinance where they could face a fine of up to $500 if they violate it.