In a groundbreaking decision, the City Council of Los Angeles voted last week to draft a law that not only prohibits the commercial breeding of cats, dogs, rabbits and chickens but also the sale of factory-bred animals in pet stores.
The motion, introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz, also calls for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services to hold regular shelter animal adoptions in pet stores.
“It will help us reduce our pet over-population problem, and it will save us a significant amount of money,” Koretz says.
Thanks to aggressive campaigns from animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society, many more people now know why puppy mills are so terrible. The animals are kept in tiny pens, forced to bear litter after litter and seldom receive the appropriate diet, exercise or medical care.
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Common Puppy Mill-Related Afflictions
When unsuspecting people buy outrageously priced “purebred” animals, some of which sell for thousands of dollars, they are often heartbroken when their new pets become ill and die, usually because of the conditions in which they were born and raised. Parvo, upper respiratory infections, kennel cough and congenital defects are the most common problems.
“These animals are inbred and raised in terrible conditions,” says Koretz. “That results in medical problems, behavioral problems…often that lead to those animals winding up in our animal shelters.”
Statistics on Puppy Mills
During my time with rescue, I’ve helped dozens of purebred Dachshunds whose families relinquished them because they couldn’t afford the vet bills for keeping their pricey puppies in good health.
As such, I have come to hate puppy mills — and I’m not alone. Ask any rescue person how they feel about puppy mills and then get ready for the ensuing rant. Puppy mills = more pets = more abandoned pets = more pets euthanized.
According to the Department of Animal Services, 55,000 animals were surrendered to the city shelter system last year in Los Angeles. Of those animals, about 50% of cats and 25% of dogs were euthanized. The remaining animals cost the city an average of $350 each for vetting, food, shelter maintenance and staffing.
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What the Ban Will Do
The new law would increase visibility for the adoptable animals and help spread the word about all the wonderful purebred animals in shelters. But, in my opinion, the biggest benefit of the new law is the precedent it will set nationwide.
To learn more about dogs who come from puppy mills, watch this video:
“All too often, unsuspecting pet owners are supporting greedy and cruel puppy mills. I want that to end in Los Angeles,” says Councilman Tony Cardenas, who helped create the city’s Animal Cruelty Task Force in 2005.
Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, who says the new law will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, sees it as a chance to educate people about where pet store dogs and cats really come from as well as the vet costs people unknowingly take on when purchasing a dog or cat from a pet store.
“We’re not only protecting the animals,” she says, “but we’re protecting the people in the community, the people who don’t know that when they go into a pet store, they are paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for an animal that is likely to be sick (or) have genetic defects.”
Now that the council has approved the ban, Animal Services will draft the language and arrange for the new adoption procedures. Although it will probably be a few years before we notice real change, the puppy mill ban is a giant step in the right direction.