A federal inspector came upon a little shop of horrors when he walked into Har Mar Pet Shop in Roseville earlier this year.
Among the sad creatures that USDA Animal Care Inspector Kevin Wilken discovered during his April visit were an English bulldog puppy with a reddish sore bulging from an eye, three dwarf hamsters missing eyes, and a "deceased baby hedgehog" so decomposed "it was difficult to recognize it as a baby hedgehog," the report said.
The inspection prompted the city into action. It's in the process of crafting an ordinance that would force stores to operate at a more humane level.
Among the people who offered input was Har Mar Pet Shop owner Gerald Papineau, who called what the USDA found "minor problems." He advised the council to stay out of pet store regulation, stressing how he has ten employees and pays property and sales taxes.
"I'm good for Roseville," said Papineau.
Papineau declined comment for this story. He referred questions to his representative Mindy Patterson of The Cavalry Group, a Missouri company that represents "animal-based businesses."
"There is no crisis in animal welfare that needs to be solved here," she says. "Show me where there's a crisis."
Among the ideas is requiring retailers to post where the animals they're selling came from. Another involves prohibiting stores from selling dogs and cats acquired from commercial breeders, a.k.a., puppy mills.
City paperwork shows that Har Mar Pet Shop acquired animals from such breeders as recently as 2015.
By outlawing the link between mills and retailers, so the theory goes, stores would acquire healthier animals and would reduce the likelihood that their furry charges become sick.
What might be Roseville's definition of a commercial breeder?
City Manager Pat Trudgeon says that's just one the questions that needs to be answered between now and the council's next meeting in November.
The Cavalry Group's Patterson has her interpretation of what any new ordinance will bring.
"This would be ban on buying from legitimate breeders," she says. "This is about telling businesses how to get their merchandise and it would result in a rescue animal mandate."