Hugh McQuaid Photo

Animal advocates tried Friday to shore up legislative support for a proposal to ban the sale of commercially bred puppies for all future pet stores in Connecticut.

The policy was one of several recommendations by a task force that met for several months to curb the use of “puppy mills,” a term for commercial breeders where dogs are produced in high numbers and in inhumane conditions. Advocates contend that many of the animals sold in Connecticut pet shops were born at these commercial breeders.

Supporters are calling the ban on future pet stores a “phase out” of the use of puppy mills to source Connecticut pet shops.

“The fact is there is an abundance of puppies from other sources,” Debora Bresch, a lawyer with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said. “From rescue organizations . . . as well as reputable breeders. There’s simply no reason for pet stores to any longer sell commercially bred dogs.”

Bresch spoke at a “Voices for Animals” event in the Legislative Office Building. Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, asked supporters at the press conference to contact their representatives and ask the to back the ban.

“They listen to you. They don’t really listen to other legislators. They listen to their constituents. When enough of you call and write and come up here and speak, they listen,” she said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Kupchick tried last year to pass an outright ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs in Connecticut. The bill made it as far as the House of Representatives before being rewritten to establish a task force to explore the issue.

Although that group drafted recommendations including the prospective ban earlier this month, the panel was not without dissenting voices. Charles Sewell, executive vice president of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said the puppy mill problem was attributable to a small number of bad actors in a generally responsible industry.

At one meeting, Sewell called the idea of “grandfathering” current pet stores and banning commercial sales at future stores a “de facto ban” that only delayed the impact.

“Frankly, that would just be a slow death for pet stores over time,” he said. “You would be eliminating the ability for pet stores to operate.”

Enough lawmakers had concerns during last year’s session to stifle Kupchick’s bill. This year she is optimistic that her legislation has support in the Environment Committee.

“I feel good about that and I think that the advocates on this issue are very motivated to come out and share their opinion,” she said. “I’m feeling optimistic . . . Now it’s up to the public.”

The Environment Committee raised the concept to be drafted as a bill for a public hearing earlier this month.