EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - The puppies The Pet Depot sells come with a paper trail of shots and checkups. But they aren't sterilized.
"We're all for responsible ownership. And we believe it should be the pet owners responsibility and choice to spay and neuter their dogs," owner Tish Rothwell said.
But Senate Bill 2504 would mandate pet stores and private sellers sterilize their dogs and cats before they sell them.
The measure has the support of the Humane Society of the United States.
"We're not stating you cannot sell these animals to the public," director Inga Gibson said. "However, if you're going to sell these animals, you have responsibilities, and there needs to be some accountability."
The bill was first proposed to reduce Hawaii's feral cat population. Then dogs were included. Dog sterilizations can cost from $100 to $400 per animal.
Napua Furtado, owner of Koolau Pets, said that's a lot of money for a small business.
"Let's put it this way. If this bill passes, I'll be out of business," she said.
Backers of the measure said the bill could clamp down on an unregulated industry, discourage puppy mills, and stop roadside sales.
"People that are literally parked on the side of the road, selling puppies out of the back of their van, out of the trunk of their car, on the beach, in public parks," Gibson said.
"We believe that it would actually drive more roadside sales, parking lot sales of un-veterinarian checked animals," Rothwell said.
The pet sterilization bill drew such heated debate, Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D-South and West Maui, Makena) ordered supporters and opponents to end the fight and find a compromise.
The bill will be heard again next week.