Ovation: San Diego Bans The Sale Of Dogs, Cats and Rabbits In Pet Stores.
I’ve always loved animals and have had many pets in my lifetime. In fact, if I count fish, I’m certain that there’s never been a time when I didn’t have a pet to keep me company. I’ve rescued a greyhound from a racetrack, taken a kitten from a friend at work, and the two dogs that live with me now where both found on Craig’s List. My experience with pet stores has not been a good one.
For a short time in my twenties, I worked in a pet store. It was one of the at-the-mall type stores where puppies were showcased in display windows in order to get customers to venture inside, fill out a credit application, and take a ridiculously over-priced puppy home with them. The employees in the store did their best to see that the puppies were well cared for, properly fed and groomed and regularly checked by a veterinarian but, at the end of the day, they were really nothing more than “stock” or “inventory” that arrived in a truck from a “supplier”. As they matured from puppy to young adult dogs, they would become less valuable in the eyes of the higher-ups and their prices would consequently be lowered. While the cost of keeping a dog in “inventory” didn’t change as the animal aged, the profit margin would fall exponentially.
There was one dog in particular that the store couldn’t sell. She was a frightened Pomeranian that wasn’t particularly beautiful and barked, constantly, from the moment the lights came on in the store each morning until well after the last employee had left for the night. The poor thing ended up in a crate in the back storage room, out of the eyes of potential customers, and her fate was unclear. If she were to be returned to the breeder from whom the store had purchased her, she would surely be “removed from inventory”. After looking into her eyes in that crate in the back room of the pet store for more than a month, I paid an adoption fee and took her home with me. I named her Foxie.
Because of my first-hand knowledge of a puppy’s life in storage room crate, I do not advocate the purchase of animals from pet stores. Neither does the San Diego City Council who unanimously voted to ban retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores within their city.
Last week, San Diego, California became the nation’s thirty-second city, and the second largest (behind Los Angeles, CA), to enact such a ban. Retailers in the city will now have to get their dogs, cats and rabbits from city or county animal shelters, humane societies and nonprofit rescue groups. Pet stores will also be required to keep certificates proving the origin of the animals that they sell.
Before the vote, the City Council considered input from people on both sides of the issue … both animal rights groups supporting the ban …
“It will absolutely not affect backyard breeders, or hobby breeders, or responsible, reputable breeders that are actually doing a great job at providing great dogs that often aren’t in a shelter or rescue environment.” – Dr. Gary Weitzman, CEO of the Humane Society
… and pet store owners who oppose it.
“Anybody that will tell you that I don’t care about puppies or where they come from and it’s strictly about money is completely false … Anybody that’s successful in this industry is going to be attacked. We know this is a David versus Goliath-type thing. It’s a heartfelt thing. We understand that. But we love animals.” – David Salinas, owner of San Diego Puppy
Violating the new ordinance would be a misdemeanor with a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third and subsequent violations. Advocates of the ordinance estimate that puppy mills produce five million puppies each year and supply ninety-nine percent of all the puppies sold in U.S. pet stores. They accuse the mills of over-breeding, inbreeding, poor veterinary care, inadequate food and shelter, crowded cages and lack of socialization, all of which can lead to health and behavioral problems like I experienced with Foxie.
Foxie turned out to be a sweet girl and was with me for many years until one day I noticed her laying in the sun, like she’d done so many times before, but didn’t come when I called her. She had quietly passed while she slept in a favorite place beneath an apple tree in my yard. I never regretted rescuing her from that backroom crate and I always thought that she appreciated it.
When demand for puppies falls, supply should dwindle in response, so please don’t buy a puppy from a pet store. There are far too many wonderful animals already waiting to give you all their love.
Contact your local human society or no-kill shelter, or visit websites like www.petfinder.com, to learn more about pet adoption.
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