Of course, not all commercial breeders treat animals inhumanely, but the MSPCA makes the point that, “Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, where dogs are generally kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.”
When the ordinance was announced last month, Care2’s Alicia Graef explained that, “Commercial breeders are required to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), but as the ordinance points out, a significant number of animals are coming from places that have multiple violations of the AWA and enforcement of regulations has been disturbingly inadequate.”
Dubbed the “Puppy Mill Bill,” O’Malley’s ordinance proposed that area retailers interested in offering animals would have to source them from rescue organizations and shelters, instead of puppy mills and other inhumane places. If passed, it would also prohibit the sale of animals in public places –from sidewalks to flea markets.
Well, great news–it passed! On March 2, the 13-member Boston City Council unanimously passed the ordinance and the measure was signed into law the same day by Mayor Marty Walsh. The ASPCA described the decision as “A huge step forward for animal welfare in Boston,” which is the third-largest city in the Northeast.
While there may not be a legal definition of a puppy mill, the ASPCA defines it as “a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” The sad truth is that puppy mills remain a very serious problem in the U.S.
Why should pet stores be permitted to risk sourcing from puppy mills and other nefarious places when there are SO many adoptable animals in shelters? The ASPCA estimates that five to seven million animals enter shelters each year, while the American Humane Association puts the figure at more like eight million animals. It may be difficult to determine a precise count, but we know it’s in the millions.
That’s a lot of animals in need of a loving forever home.
Sadly, according to the ASPCA, five in 10 dogs and seven in 10 cats in shelters are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them. Companion rabbits are the third most frequently euthanized animals at shelters, behind cats and dogs.
For those who justify shopping for their next pet at a pet store because they’re in search of a pure breed, the ASPCA estimates twenty five percent of shelter dogs are purebred.
If you live in a state where pet stores are still permitted to sell commercially-sourced dogs, cats and rabbits, the ASPCA cautions, “don’t be fooled by pet store owners who show you ‘papers’ or licenses to prove that their dogs are from humane sources. The fact is, responsible breeders would never sell a puppy through a pet store because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies are going to a good home.“
By incorporating the outdoor sales ban into the ordinance, the ASPCA makes the point that Boston’s new law simultaneously tackles the issues of puppy mill cruelty, unscrupulous “backyard” breeding and shelter overcrowding.
When the ordinance was first introduced by Councilor O’Malley, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) applauded him, noting that, “Across the country, similar ordinances have resulted in a decrease in shelter intake and euthanasia rates and they have helped promote purchasing a pet from responsible breeders and adopting a pet from rescues and shelters.”
Now that Boston has voted the “Puppy Mill Bill” into law, hopefully other cities will continue the trend –reducing the needless suffering of even more animals in the process.
How You Can Help
One of the ways people are addressing puppy mill cruelty in their communities is by supporting local ordinances and state bills that regulate where pet stores are allowed to source animals. The ASPCA summarizes where things currently stand:
- Nearly 90 localities have banned the sale of commercially-bred dogs in pet stores;
- Bills to regulate pet store puppy sales by limiting the breeders they can source from have already passed in Connecticut and New Jersey;
- Illinois and Maine have proposed bills to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores statewide!
- Map it: If you’re curious to know where your community stands on pet store animal sourcing laws, this handy map shows how various cities have ruled on this issue.
- Sign it: Help New York pass its own pet store sourcing law: Consider signing this petition requiring all dogs and cats sold in New York pet stores to come from shelters.
- Check it: If you’d like to reach out to your local representative to encourage her or him to introduce a bill like City Council member Matt O’Malley did in Boston, check out the ASPCA Guide to Enacting Local Pet Store Sales Restrictions. If that doesn’t work—you can always create your own petition:
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