Joseph Turner, Global Animal
A recent editorial published by The Los Angeles Times (see below) disapproves of the measure to ban animal sales in pet stores, while also poking fun at its fellow animal-conscious denizens from the north. The editorial focuses more on comparing the pet ban bill to other pieces of legislation rather than addressing the issue of animal cruelty.
While the article does raise concerns about the ballot measure, adopting pets from shelters and becoming more animal aware would remedy the editorial’s qualms about the initiative — nothing too insurmountable. Here’s why we think San Francisco’s getting it right.
According to the Humane Society, nearly 8 million cats and dogs find themselves in U.S. animal shelters each year. Only half of these would-be pets will avoid euthanasia. The raw numbers indicate we face an epidemic of pet homelessness. While the ratio of euthanized pets to pets in homes has drastically reduced since the 1970s, our goal, and duty, as a society should be to reach a point where no stray animals are destined to die. For all displaced pets to find homes, we need to force out those actively contributing to, and profiting from, the problem. Puppy mills act as one of the prime perpetrators because they endlessly breed dogs, in hopes of endless profits, and raise dogs in horrendous living conditions.
Luckily, the proactive, animal-conscious citizens in San Francisco have secured a spot on the November ballot for an initiative that will forbid pet stores from selling animals. Those supporting the measure hope animal cruelty will be lessened, as most animals sold in pet stores come from puppy mills and other unethical animal dealers.
With the drastic number of euthanized pets, the merciless puppy mill industry has no place in our society. Why should puppies be bred at a rapid pace when millions of pets don’t have homes? By reducing the number of pets in shelters, animal rescues might then have sufficient resources to better treat those animals in shelters. Further, more shelters will then be able to become no-kill.
Although some people have an affinity for a certain breed of dog, even they do not have to patronize pet stores since there are dog rescue organizations for every breed.
In addition to animal overpopulation, puppy mills produce dogs who typically have more health ailments than dogs not bred like a commodity. Poor health stems from inbreeding and atrocious living conditions. Unsurprisingly, these millers tend to skillfully evade investigators and try to see to that customers do not know that their new puppy came from a morbid mill.
San Francisco voters have the opportunity to stymie the puppy mill business. Rather than facing ridicule, San Francisco animal advocates should be praised for getting the pet ban onto the ballot. Moreover, the San Francisco law, if passed, may provide an impetus for further animal conscious practice throughout the region, the state, and the country.
When searching for a pet, you can both save a life today and prevent future lives from harm.
Here is The Los Angeles Times editorial:
Los Angeles Times, Editorial
Honestly, it’s not that we go out of our way to razz San Francisco as the home of nutty ideas. It’s just that lately, the city has been making it hard to do otherwise, giving unexpectedly serious consideration to a series of odd proposals: The November ballot measure that would ban male circumcision of children, which isn’t expected to pass. The Happy Meal ban, which did pass. And now, the goldfish ban.
Actually, it’s not just a goldfish ban. The measure being pushed by San Francisco’s Animal Control and Welfare Commission would ban all sales of all pets: kittens, snakes, hamsters, goldfish. Rats!
The ban wouldn’t affect animals sold for food, so city residents could still buy a live crab to boil in a pot of water for dinner, just not to keep in an aquarium. Live tilapia to grill, no problem, but a splendidly colored Siamese fighting fish for a fishbowl?
This is a foolish proposal, and the Board of Supervisors should ignore it. Like the ban on free toys with low-nutrition children’s meals, the so-called goldfish ban originates from good intentions. It is intended as a blow against inhumane pet operations such as puppy mills. Also, the hope is that people seeking pets would turn instead to rescue societies and animal shelters.
Society rightly rejects — and passes laws against — the inhumane treatment of animals, though sometimes it has a muddled perception of what that means (as in the case of the crab). But San Francisco should reduce animal cruelty by getting rid of the cruelty, not the animals. The city lacks a mandatory spay-neuter law for most dogs and cats, like the one in Los Angeles; its law covers only pit bulls. A well-enforced ordinance of that sort would help keep shelters and rescue societies from being overwhelmed by unwanted animals. San Francisco also could require stores to acquire their animals from humane suppliers, and mandate a short waiting period before customers are allowed to purchase a pet, to avoid impulse buys.
Animals will be treated better when they are owned by responsible people who are ready to keep a pet for its lifetime. That means allowing people to buy the pet they want, not the one the city thinks they should have. Of course, prospective pet owners should check the shelters and rescue groups first; they would be surprised by the variety of loving, attractive animals. Ultimately, though, it’s their choice. Besides, should the ban pass, people need only go to a neighboring town to find just the right waggly-tailed, cuddly guppy.