Landmark legislation was passed on February 1st as the West Hollywood City Council unanimously voted to stop the retail sale of cats and dogs at pet stores. Only pet shops that “re-home” rescued or shelter animals will be allowed to stay in business.
The idea for the ordinance came after an investigation of a West Hollywood pet store called Elite Animals found the owner was breaking federal laws by importing animals for sale.
Carole Davis of CAPS and other animal advocates were concerned about the incident and wanted to be sure it would never happen again in their town. So Davis and the Animal Legal Defense Fund joined forces to draft the ordinance for the West Hollywood council.
Davis told the NBC affiliate, “West Hollywood’s City Council has shown great leadership, wise judgment and compassion,” in taking that action and, “by considering an ordinance banning the sale of cats and dogs in our city’s pet stores. It will save countless shelter animals’ lives locally and will send a strong message to abusive commercial breeders all over the nation.”
This isn’t the first time West Hollywood has taken the initiative to be a leader in the name animals. Earlier this year the city voted to ban the de-clawing of cats.
The new ordinance will make the city off-limits to animals bred at puppy mills and commercial cat breeding facilities. Only a small number of cities in the country have stepped up to the plate with legislation like this. The West Hollywood law is similar to one adopted in South Lake Tahoe, CA in 2009, which only allows for the sale of “humanely bred, reared or sheltered animals.”
Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS was at the council meeting. He said, “With so many dogs and cats available for adoption from animal shelters and rescue groups as well as from compassionate, humane breeders, there is simply no reason to inhumanely ship puppy mill bred dogs around the country to stock pet stores.”
Advocates see the new law as an opportunity to get more homeless pets out of overcrowded Los Angeles shelters. The city estimates that in 2009 more than 35,000 dogs and 67,000 cats were euthanized in L.A. city and county shelters.
Several pet shops in L.A. have already changed their business plan from selling commercially bred animals to re-homing rescued cats and dogs. Orange Bone made the switch to a humane pet store in 2008 and Pets’ Delight in a nearby town changed its focus to shelter animals in 2009. And pet supply stores such as PetSmart and PETCO have never sold puppies or kittens.
Nationwide more than 500 independent pet shops have voluntarily signed The HSUS pledge to not sell puppies at their store. Click here to see if the names of the shops in your area.
The vote on Monday was a preliminary action. The ordinance requires a second vote in two weeks before it becomes law. Then CAPS and other groups say they will tackle neighboring communities. Advocates are hopeful this ban will be the beginning of the end to puppy mills.
Heaven Can Wait Animal Society