They don’t call it the City of Angels for nothing. We’re not being sarcastic — Los Angeles has a serious soft spot for little furry critters. Last month, on Halloween, the L.A. City Council pulled off an impressive trick: formalizing its approval of an ordinance that bans the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits, becoming the largest American city to do so.
You heard right. In the future, the dogs, cats, and rabbits seen in Los Angeles pet stores will be from shelters or rescue groups. Products of puppy and kitten mills will simply not be available for sale in L.A. Animal advocates around the country are cheering this as a giant leap toward the Golden State becoming the largest no-kill community in the country. Way to go, Los Angeles!
The action is significant. It makes L.A. the largest city in the U.S. to enact legislation that puts an effective stopper in what, until now, has been a seemingly unstoppable stream of puppy-mill pets. As more and more Americans learn about the cruel reality behind these cuteness factories, and that the majority of the commercially-bred animals impulse-purchased at pet shops wind up on death row at animal shelters, this legislation is a major scoop — and reason to cheer, for it will have a profoundly positive impact on California’s pet overpopulation problem.
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L.A. alone operates seven municipal, open-admission animal shelter facilities, each one of them overloaded with beautiful dogs (and cats) who are killed every day for lack of space, because impulse buyers have been busy maxing out their credit cards at pet shops. Well, no longer.
“It’s a very good day for the people and animals of L.A.,” said Elizabeth Oreck of Best Friends Animal Society, the highly respected non-profit headquartered in Kanab, Utah, which has been at the forefront of puppy-mill initiatives for years now. “Not only will this restrict the flow of animals coming into our city from pet mills and backyard breeders, it will help alleviate the pet overpopulation problem in our shelters by providing more opportunities for rescued animals to find homes.”
Said Carole Raphaelle Davis of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), “After eight years of investigations and protests, we are satisfied and optimistic about breaking the blood money contracts between puppy mill owners who abuse animals and L.A. pet retailers.” CAPS provided the L.A. City Council with the results of its two-year investigation into L.A.’s retail pet stores and the commercial breeding facilities, located mainly in the Midwestern states and in rural California, that supplied them.
“This ordinance will relieve mill animals and help save the lives of animals who are killed at Los Angeles Animal Services,” Davis added. “The 2011-2012 body count is unacceptable, with 9,056 dogs and 12,061 cats killed in our shelters. We are relieved that finally, the cries of L.A.’s shelter animals have been heard. Puppy mills and cruel pet factories will fade into history at last.”
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OK, so putting emotions aside for a moment, let’s say you don’t care about shelter euthanasia rates or the greed of commercial breeders. With the general election just days away, fiscal matters are top of mind right now for all taxpayers, regardless of which candidate you intend to cast your vote for. And on top of the terrible karmic cost of taking innocent animal lives, killing shelter pets puts a huge dollar burden on us, the American taxpayers.
“More than 70,000 animals are euthanized in Los Angeles city and county shelters every year — at taxpayer expense,” Oreck explained. “To continue importing puppies and kittens from mills in other states while we are killing the surplus that are already filling our shelters simply doesn’t make sense. Today, Los Angeles took a reasonable and progressive step to addressing these issues in our city.”
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Oreck was careful to add that the ordinance will not affect responsible, hobby breeders, the existence of whom Dogster has evidence, who will remain a source of purebred animals for those who are not able to find the purebred of their choice through shelters, purebred rescue groups, or online databases such as Petfinder.com. In fact, the ordinance should actually help increase business for the breeders in local communities, which is preferable to importing business from outside of Los Angeles, she added.
Oreck has been busy fielding calls and emails from people all over the country, asking how they can enact an ordinance to ban retail sales of pets in their own communities. “We are witnessing a cultural shift that comes from true grassroots advocacy in action,” she concluded. “It is only a matter of time before there will be very few places where one will be able to walk into a pet store and purchase an animal from a puppy or kitten mill.”
Photo: Dogs in captivity by Shutterstock.com