Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
LOS ANGELES — In an attempt to ease overcrowding and prevent euthanization of unclaimed pets at city animal shelters, Councilman Paul Koretz has proposed an ordinance that will allow pet stores to sell pets from shelters or registered rescue groups.
This month, the Los Angeles City Council will consider a three-year ban on the sale of commercially-bred dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores. Officials hope the ban will guide those seeking a new pet to local animal shelters and cut demand from inhumane breeding facilities.
Koretz said the ultimate goal is for the city to have no-kill shelters.
A draft of the ordinance states no business would be allowed to sell dogs, cats or rabbits unless the animals are obtained from an animal shelter or a nonprofit humane organization registered with the city’s Department of Animal Services.
However, the pet industry believes the ban will only hurt responsible pet stores and steer people toward the black market.
Michael Canning, president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council based in Washington, D.C., said, “Anybody that would engage in substandard breeding already doesn’t follow the rules.”
“This will just drive people to sell their puppies on the Internet or some other unregulated way like the flea markets or out of their trunks on the street,” he continued.
The ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to sell any live dog, cat or rabbit in any pet store, retail business or other commercial establishment located in the City of Los Angeles, unless the dog, cat or rabbit was obtained from an animal shelter or a humane society located in the City of Los Angeles, or a non-profit rescue and humane organization registered with the Department of Animal Services.”
The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services takes in thousands of animals every year, and sadly, many are never adopted.
In 2011, city animal shelters took in more than 57,000 animals—35,405 of which were dogs and 21,883 were cats. Approximately 25 percent of the dogs and 57 percent of the cats were euthanized.
Los Angeles is such an influential city that if this ban is put into effect, other towns are very likely to follow. Los Angeles’ neighboring city of Burbank is also expected to consider a pet sale ban on Oct. 16.
“Because of the population of Los Angeles, and because of the important role Los Angeles plays culturally on the national stage, a ban would have reverberations nationally,” said Nick Nassuet, a special investigator for Last Chance for Animals, an international nonprofit organization headquartered in Los Angeles.
However, Canning added that the ban would close 11 local pet stores and leave more than 60 people unemployed.
“I would like to see the city place rules on the breeding of pets so consumers in Los Angeles can be assured that if they buy a dog in a pet store that they’re getting it from a very good breeder,” he said. “Pet stores should be required to examine where they get their pets in greater detail and let the consumers know about the quality of where their dogs are purchased.”
There are more than 5,000 puppy mills and kitten factories licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture throughout the country that provide local pet stores with 500,000 animals a year. However, being licensed by the USDA or the American Kennel Club does not guarantee a humane facility.
Koretz remains confident the new law will pass and hopes that adoption will become “the new normal” in Los Angeles.