Spied in The Miami Herald Online yesterday: State inspectors in Florida will be on the lookout for non-compliant pet shops across the peninsula in advance of the annual puppy shopping extravaganza occasioned by the Holidays.

Here’s the scoop:

“State inspectors will conduct a sweep of pet stores during the next five weeks to ensure the establishments are complying with laws that protect consumers who buy pets.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks of age when offered for sale. The animals also must be accompanied by a state health certificate signed by a veterinarian within the past 30 days.

The certificate must document that all required vaccinations, tests and treatments for parasites were provided to the animal. Dealers also must provide purchasers with information on buyer's rights under the law, including the right to return an animal within 14 days if deemed unfit by a veterinarian.”

Not that the piece explains much beyond these three paragraphs. In fact, that’s all it says, so don’t even bother clicking the link. The Orlando Business Journal must’ve picked up the same press release, since they basically trod over the same exact ground.

Despite the lack of explanatory information, I find this news postworthy as a result of its novelty. As a Floridian and an avid pet shop critic, never before have I heard any stirrings from the Sate of Florida’s agriculture department on the subject of increasing pet shop oversight.

Though my state has become increasingly willing to intervene on behalf of consumers when pet shops provide low quality products, little has been done to discourage these retailers from doing so in advance of a sale. In fact, I reckon this newest “sweep” has more the customer in mind than the actual wares.

No matter—I’ll take it. If children crying over sick pups at Christmastime is what’s required to alter the state’s approach—rather than the suffering of an industry’s collective basket of sentient goods—at least it’s a start. If this new approach provides much-needed oversight of an industry plagued with animal welfare abuses, I’ll cheer—regardless of what drives the state to take these measures.

Now we just have to sit back and see what comes of it. But if pet shops are sanctioned, closed down, required to seek treatment for their ubiquitously sick puppy mill inventory, I’ll be surprised. If the goal is to ensure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed on all health certificates, the inspectors might as well stay home for the Holidays.

I, for one, am not holding my breath after catching wind of this press release. I will, however, be waiting to see if it makes any dent at all in the quality of the merchandise I’ll be caring for over the next couple of months.