LA Bans the Sale of Puppy & Kitten Mill Pets

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 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

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This post was written by Julia Szabo, regular contributor to Dogster Magazine.


Virginia C.
Virginia C4 years ago

Please sign my petition to the Humane Society of the United States asking them to change the laws to help Rescue Groups. These people are doing this on a volunteer basis and using all their own resources. I am hoping my petition can help them in some way by forcing the animal abusers to pay a fine to the Rescue Groups.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

They deserve the right to be respected

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog4 years ago

Good job LA!!!! Now all those shelters need to be no-kill, but it's definitely a wonderful step in the right direction, and every city needs to follow this example :)

Marcia Shiel
M s5 years ago

IT's ABOUT TIME Now the rest of the country has to do the same!

Tippeetoes T.
Tippeetoes T.5 years ago

this law has a 2 year expiration date of 10/31/14.

Tippeetoes T.
Tippeetoes T.5 years ago

this is great for la but what is the classification of puppy mill. everyone knows the backyard breeders are just as irresponsible as mills. that's why they find so many purebred "strays".we need a moratorium on all pet breeding with a lottery to see who can breed. there are too many dogs cats and rabbits everywhere. the mills are all over craigslist and ebay. we shouldn't be able to bring a puppy mill puppy into los angeles. . . . . . .

Kat K.
Kat K5 years ago

Thank you LA!! Hopefully, others will follow suit and stop this horrendous activity. These poor animals live an awful life~~it breaks my heart.

Rebecca G.
Rebecca G5 years ago

Itotally agree with Cheryl M's comment, and THANK YOU L.A!!!!

Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson5 years ago

THANK YOU LA! Again California is leading the way.

Cheryl MallonBond-
Cheryl M5 years ago

I am SO THRILLED! About this victory for animals in Los Angeles! FINALLY! I just wish that EVERY STATE WOULD FOLLOW SUIT! In my humble opinion I believe that All the major animal organizations should pu taside any differences they might have & join united forces to make the biggest campaign EVER to educate the general public that if they buy a pet, they are supporting animal cruelty! Many forward people (like care 2 members!) Know this information...but it needs to be a common understanding in the general public. I also feel (& I know people are gonna get pissed at me saying this) that breeding seriously needs to go away! As an animal rescue worker, it KILLS ME! To see wonderful animals being killed everyday in shelters accross the country, because of lack of homes! I don't understand the mentality of "I need a purebred" unless you are a proffessional ..Dog.. or Cat shower, than WHY BUY!? It is rediculous! Are any of us purebreds!? Its just nonsence! Please don't breed or buy, while shelter animals die. Save a stray..TODAY!