The West Hollywood city council voted unanimously Monday night in favor of an ordinance to prohibit retail sales of dogs and cats at pet stores. The ordinance was put forth by Councilmember Jeffrey Prang with input from The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Companion Animal Protection Society. The ordinance makes West Hollywood, long a leader in adopting laws to protect animals from cruelty, one of only a handful of cities in the nation to close off a primary channel for the sale of dogs and cats produced in large-scale, commercial breeding facilities such as puppy mills.
"With so many dogs and cats available for adoption from animal shelters and rescue groups as well as from compassionate, humane breeders, there is simply no reason to inhumanely ship puppy mill bred dogs around the country to stock pet stores," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, who spoke at the council meeting and thanked the members for their humane leadership.
The West Hollywood ordinance is similar to one adopted in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. in 2009, which prohibits the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores with exemptions for humanely bred, reared or sheltered animals. For existing pet stores, it provides a period for non-conformance to allow stores to recover their investment from the portion of their business that involves the sale of dogs and/or cats.
By removing the local market for puppy mill dogs, the ordinance will boost adoptions for area animal shelters and rescue groups and increase opportunities for responsible, humane breeders. While thousands of puppy mill puppies were sold in the Los Angeles area during the past year, more than 35,000 dogs and 67,000 cats were euthanized in Los Angeles city and county shelters, at significant cost to taxpayers.
The financial success of companies that refuse to sell puppies and kittens, such as the nation's largest retail pet supply stores PETCO and PetSmart, is proof that a humane business model is successful. In addition to the large retail chains, more than 500 independent pet shops around the country, including 38 in California, have voluntarily signed The HSUS' new pledge not to sell puppies at their stores.