Sarasota County and Petland Sarasota have resolved a lawsuit filed in 2016 by the pet retailer.

SARASOTA COUNTY — A longstanding dispute between the county and a pet store that challenged a local law banning the sale of cats and dogs in commercial establishments has been settled.

Sarasota County and Petland Sarasota have resolved a lawsuit filed in 2016 by the pet retailer challenging the constitutionality of the county’s rule prohibiting the retail sale of puppies and kittens. The Parker family, owners of Petland, claimed the new rule, which took effect at the beginning of 2017, was unconstitutional and unlawfully limited sales to local breeders, despite any findings that area pet stores like Petland have treated animals inhumanely or buy from suspect breeders. Under the settlement, Petland Sarasota, at 5380 Fruitville Road in Sarasota, will not renew its lease, which expires on July 1. The county, which hasn’t enforced the ordinance on the business because of the pending litigation, has agreed to abstain from enforcing the ordinance on the company since it will cease operations soon, County Attorney Frederick Elbrecht told the commission at its April 9 meeting.

Each party also will be responsible for its own legal fees. The county incurred roughly $13,000 in legal fees, county officials said.

“I’m glad that this is very close to being resolved,” Commission Chairman Charles Hines said of the years-long lawsuit.

The ordinance was highly controversial in the county in late 2015 and early 2016. It was the subject of days-long public hearings that pitted Petland leaders and their Midwestern commercial breeders against local animal activists worried about abuse. The ordinance was designed to eliminate the local sale of animals brought in from “puppy mills” or “kitten factories” by prohibiting any new retail pet stores from selling animals that have not been bred or raised where they are being sold and outlawed traditional retail pet stores and set a deadline for existing commercial pet stores to cease their cat and dog sales by Jan. 27, 2017.

At the center of much of the disagreement was the rule’s exception for so-called “hobby breeders.”

The exception was designed to allow local breeders who “breed or rear” animals in the county and meet existing zoning codes to continue to operate. Although some animal groups and veterinarians argued the language should be changed, the commission voted 3-2 to keep the hobby breeder definition in June 2016.

Petland’s lawsuit asked a 12th Circuit Court judge to overturn the county’s ordinance as unconstitutional and inconsistent with state law, or for the county to compensate Petland for eliminating its property rights to sell the animals.

“The ordinance attempts to address any extraterritorial concern about dog- and cat-breeding facilities, while at the same time not only permitting the location and operation of such facilities within the county, but also making the owners of such facilities the only and exclusive lawful retail sellers of dogs and cats,” the lawsuit contended.

Petland at the time the ordinance was enacted was likely the last retail pet store in the county that would have been forced to close. Only two other stores at the time carried the designation — one of which closed — and other locations only adopted out pets, county officials said in 2016.