The San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare, an advisory board on animal issues, introduced the idea of banning pet sales in San Francisco. It was originally brought up as a proposal to outlaw puppy and kitten mills, but the committee decided to extend it to small animals as well. The proposal was tabled for another month, but the outcry from people all over the country can still be heard. It was a surprise at the committee’s regularly scheduled meeting last week, usually attended by a handful of people, when more than 100 came pouring in, with speakers lined up for hours.
Supporters of the ban say that animal shelters are inundated with all pets—not just cats and dogs. People who buy hamsters, birds, and other animals from pet stores impulsively, then later turn these animals in to shelters, create an overabundance of unwanted pets.
Pet store owners, as you might suspect, are against the ban, telling the city’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare that it would put them out of business. Under the proposal, San Francisco residents would have to purchase pets outside of the city.
Other California cities have already banned pet sales. In February of this year, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to approve new legislation that would prohibit most sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores within their city limits. Under the ban, which takes effect later this year, pet stores will be permitted to offer animals from local shelters rather than those purchased from for-profit breeders. Even though no West Hollywood pet stores currently sell puppies or kittens, this new legislation was seen as a major victory by activists who view it as a step in the right direction to end the problem of puppy mills.
Studies show that only 18 percent of dogs and 16 percent of cats are adopted from shelters. The majority of animals are purchased from pet stores or breeders, obtained from ads in the newspaper, or given by friends and neighbors. With millions of animals being euthanized every year across the country, this is disheartening news. If you’re looking to add a pet to your family, be sure to go to your area shelter, which has so many wonderful dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and birds all waiting for permanent homes. Even if you have your heart set on a purebred animal, studies show that 30 percent of the animals in shelters are purebred. For a listing of Santa Barbara area rescue groups, animal controls and humane societies, click on the following link animaladoptionsolutions.com.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for at a local animal shelter, you can search online at petfinder.com, which allows you to search by your zip code and the breed, sex, and size of the animal you’re looking to adopt.
In October of last year, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) succeeded in convincing a pet store in Santa Barbara to only carry rescue dogs. Santa Barbara residents contacted Kim Sill who heads LCA’s “Pet Shop Project,” wanting to protest the pet store after watching the special Dog Whisperer episode: “Inside Puppy Mills” last May. Elyse Kuhn, who has owned the Montecito Pet Shop for 22 years, agreed to work with LCA after many meetings with Sill. She decided it was time to help the dogs on death row in the overcrowded shelters in California, thus becoming part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. The Montecito Pet Shop on Cliff Drive no longer buys pure breed puppies from breeders but instead will only re-home shelter dogs. This proves that one person can make a difference.
Last Chance for Animals is working toward making Los Angeles a no-kill city, and a place where pet stores no longer support puppy mills and breeders. LCA is committed to oversee and endorse pet stores in Los Angeles that are willing to change their business practice and re-home shelter animals. According to LCA, more than 200,000 pets had to be euthanized in California shelters alone this year.
What is your take on San Francisco’s proposed ban on pet sales? Post your comments online.