It is now up to the L.A. Department of Animal Services, the city attorney and the LAPD to recommend new policies to regulate pets bred in puppy and kitten mills to the Board of Animal Services Commissioners and the City Council.
The policies will include banning the sale of mill-bred dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits, as well as prohibiting mill operations within Los Angeles city limits. The motion also calls for L.A. Animal Services to work with pet stores to feature shelter animals available for adoption. In addition, pet stores with high standards for the humane treatment of pets will be visibly identified.
As a general rule, I'm in favor of any legislation that brings awareness to and shuts down pet mill operators and penalizes pet stores selling puppies and kittens bred in those places.
The majority of pet mills are filthy operations in which animals are subjected to cruel treatment and inhumane living conditions. They exist primarily to put money in the pockets of mill operators and pet store owners.
The Situation in L.A.
As the L.A. motion drafted by City Council member Paul Koretz accurately depicts:
"These mills are medium- and large-sized 'factory farms' where breeders have been known to produce hundreds or thousands of puppies and kittens annually under conditions that lend themselves to a variety of abuses, from straightforward cruelty to inbreeding and abuse-inspired health and personality issues."
Mr. Koretz also points out that unsalable puppies and kittens, as well as worn out breeding stock, are routinely dumped at animal shelters. Thousands of healthy cats, dogs and rabbits are euthanized each year at L.A. animal shelters – 25 percent of the dogs taken in and half of the cats.
From my perspective it is plainly inhumane to allow pet mill operators and pet store owners to continue to contribute significantly to the problem of homeless companion animals.
It seems Mr. Koretz purchased a mill-bred Bichon 20 years ago and his pet required extensive medical treatment likely due to the circumstances of the dog's birth. I agree with Koretz when he states:
"This is frequently the case because these animals are inbred and raised in terrible conditions, and that results in medical problems, behavioral problems … often that leads to those animals winding up in our animal shelters."
Other Cities and States Taking Action Against the Sale of Mill-Bred Pets
According to most pet advocate organizations, public opinion is turning against puppy and kitten mills and the pet stores supplied by them, which points to the inevitable end of pet mills.
L.A. isn't the only location where voters have approved legislation against mills and pet stores.
In November 2010, Missouri, a state with more puppy mills than any other state, passed Proposition B which severely constrained puppy mill operations. Unfortunately, the proposition was reversed thanks to the efforts of the Missouri agriculture lobby, and replaced by a proposition with fewer teeth. The good news is Missouri voters demonstrated they are not in favor of commercial breeder abuses.
Senate Bill 299 was just signed by the governor of Nevada. This legislation requires a system of statewide breeder permits that includes inspections and fees. Breeding dogs must be over 18 months of age and cannot be bred more than once a year.
Pet mill operators aren't the only target of advocates and the general public.
A 2006 ban in Albuquerque, NM on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores and on roadsides led to a significant increase in shelter adoptions and fewer animals euthanized.
El Paso, TX passed legislation banning the sale of pets under one year old in an effort to curb impulse purchases of puppies and kittens. The new ordinance, effective January 1, 2011, provides for the following:
- Any owner of a pregnant dog or cat must get a litter permit within 14 days after the puppies or kittens are born. A litter permit is good for one year and one litter per year.
- No puppy or kitten under 8 weeks of age may be sold, transferred or given away.
- Unspayed/un-neutered dogs and cats under a year of age cannot be sold or transferred for more than $50 unless the seller has proof more was spent to care for the animal.
- Spayed and neutered dogs and cats under a year can be sold for no more than $150 unless the seller can prove he or she spent more than that to care for the pet.
- It is illegal to display, sell, trade or lease a pet for commercial purposes along roadsides, public rights of way, parking lots, flea markets, or festivals.
Nine other cities have passed similar ordinances in Texas, Colorado, Florida and Canada.
The Best Friends Animal Society has led peaceful protests in Southern California against pet stores selling puppy mill pets. As a result of those protests, several stores now only sell shelter pets. Others have shut their doors.
The Puppy Mill Problem is Far from Resolved
Despite the headway made in discouraging mill breeding operations and the sale of puppy mill pets, the problem is still significant.
According to Best Friends, mill breeders still produce around 4 million dogs every year. In some locations, up to 30 percent of dogs in shelters are believed to have been bred in puppy mills.
For more information on puppy mills, you can visit the following sites: