Shutting Off Sales Outlets for Commercial Mass Breeders

Update September 23, 2011: Toronto, Ontario’s city council has approved a measure to prohibit retailers "including any person or business that sells more than 10 dogs each year", from obtaining animals from any source except shelters, rescues or people who have surrendered their animals.

The idea is to shut down sales of dogs and cats raised in puppy or cat mills. It is estimated more than 90% of dogs and cats sold in pet stores are from such mills. 

For more on other such laws, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update July 4, 2011: The San Francisco Animal Control and Welfare Commission has now recommended a ban on the sale by pet stores of "all mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish." The measure will be considered by the city’s Board of Supervisors.

The proposal has been called the "Goldfish Ban" or the "Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal".

A more limited proposal was tabled last fall, 2010. Last year’s proposal was limited to dogs, cats, small mammals and birds.

A first of its kind law.

The idea is to control the breeding and numbers of animals that end up in public shelters. Also, it is estimated more than 90% of dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, and the Commission’s plan is an acknowledgement that pet stores may often times be a front for unscrupulous breeders and distributors profiting from breeding and selling other animals as well.

Including hamsters, gerbils, or turtles. Even goldfish which can end up in the custody of animal control if they haven’t died in a dirty bowl or been flushed down a toilet.  

Other ordinances restricting sales of pets

Last year, 2010 Austin, Texas continued a trend around the country by banning retail sales of dogs and cats at any location other than where the animal was bred.  

Since 2006 Albuquerque has banned retail sale of dogs and cats at pet stores or through dealers or brokers. Since then adoptions of homeless animals from shelters has increased by 23%.

West Hollywood, California banned retail sales of dogs and cats in 2009. Hermosa Beach, California followed with a similar ordinance. An ordinance banning such sales in South Lake Tahoe, California will take effect in 2011.

Several Florida cities such as Flagler Beach, Sec. 5-17 prohibit the sale or disposition of live animals for "commercial gain" or "other commercial purpose". See Coral Gables, Sec. 10-33 (dogs); Lauderdale Lakes, Sec. 10-36 (dogs); Opa-Locka, Sec. 5-35 (dogs); North Bay Village, Sec. 91.11 (dogs).

Last year in 2010, El Paso, Texas passed a unique ordinance to restrict pet store sales of dogs and cats.

Lake Worth, Florida passed an ordinance on February 15, 2011 that makes it illegal to "display, sell, trade, deliver, barter, lease, rent, auction, give away, transfer, offer for sale or transfer, or otherwise dispose of dogs or cats in the City".

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada’s ban on pet store sales of puppies went into effect in April, 2011. 

On May 24, 2011 Fountain, Colorado passed an ordinance prohibiting pet stores from selling or displaying dogs and cats that are offered for sale, adoption, barter, or auction. There is an exception for rescues, shelters or humane societies.

Los Angeles City Council has approved a motion to establish a ban on pet store sales of dogs, cats and rabbits.

Suffolk County, New York was considering legislation that would ban the retail sale of puppies by pet stores unless they are obtained from animal shelters, animal rescue organizations or local breeders. The legislation was withdrawn, however, in the face of NY CLS Agr & M § 400-a, a state law that prohibits local governments from passing any regulation of pet dealers including to protect consumers. 

Roadside sales of animals

There has also been a trend to target another sales outlet for puppy millers and other criminal and irresponsible breeders and distributors: the sale of animals along roadsides, parks or at flea markets or swap meets. 

The animals sold like this are usually from breeders who provide little or no care, backyard breeders, and the animals may turn out to be unhealthy, have serious, contagious diseases or congenital abnormalities, may not have proper vaccinations, and may not even be the breed represented by the seller. There is no way to track the breeder or distributor involved in these sales and no way for consumers to have any recourse. These sales are targeted to capitalize on impulse buys, making it more likely the animal will be dumped later. 

Pennsylvania law is broad in prohibiting with few exceptions: "It shall be unlawful for any person to buy, sell, offer to sell, transfer, barter, trade, raffle, auction or rent a dog at any public place in this commonwealth". 
3 P.S. § 459-603 

The new Fountain, Colorado ordinance prohibits the sale or display in a public place for purposes of offering for sale, barter, auction, giving away or disposing of a dog or cat

A 2007 Texas law, Tx. Transportation Code Sec. 285.001, allows counties with a population of at least 1.3 million to regulate roadside sales of live animals in unincorporated areas. As a result, the counties of Harris (Houston area), Bexar (San Antonio area), Dallas and Tarrant (Ft. Worth area) are authorized to restrict roadside sales of dogs and cats and other animals.  

Harris County moved immediately in 2007 to ban sales of animals along public roads and parking lots in unincorporated areas. A violation is a Class C misdemeanor which can mean a $500 fine.

Ft. Worth passed a broad ban of such sales in 2007 with fines up to $2,000 for violators. San Antonio bans the sale, trade or display of any animal on any "roadside, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or at any garage sale, flea market or festival." Sec. 5-6. Houston also bans the sale, "trade, barter, lease, rent, give away, or display for a commercial purpose a live animal on a roadside, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or at an outdoor special sale, swap meet, flea market, parking lot sale, or similar event." Sec. 6-118. Austin has a similar ban. Sec. 3-2-3. Greenville is an example of a number of smaller Texas cities that ban roadside sales of animals as well.

A 2008 Arizona law prohibits the sale of any animals in any county with a population of 800,000 or more on any "public highway, street or park or any public property adjacent to a public highway, street or park" or any "commercial private property without the express consent of the owner or lessee of the property."  A.R.S. § 44-1799.71  (A bill, S.B. 1125, introduced this year, 2010, would have extended this law to all of Arizona; S.B. 1125 passed the state Senate but failed to pass the House of Representatives and did not become law.) The current law applies to 2 of Arizona’s 15 counties, Maricopa (Phoenix area) and Pima (Tuscon area). Pima County, 6.04.170 and Tuscon, Sec. 4-8, have their own laws forbidding the sale or transfer of ownership of animals on public property and which also specifically ban such transactons at swap meets and flea markets. Yuma, Arizona is another example of a city that has banned sales of animals along public roads and parks. Sec. 130-030 

Memphis, Ord. 5300, Nashville and Hendersonville, TN also prohibit sales or giveaways of animals along public roads, parks and at flea markets. Southaven, TN is considering a similar measure. The Tennessee legislature considered but did not pass a bill, H.B. 1433/S.B. 1322, that would have made the prohibition statewide. A similar measure was considered in Delaware this past session but also did not pass.

The parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana broadly bans 
the sale, "exchange, barter, trade, lease, rent, give away or display [of] any living animal on any roadside, public right-of-way, parkway, median, park, recreational area, flea market, commercial or retail parking lot, or property adjacent to such locations, that is generally accessible to the public, regardless of whether such access is authorized or not." Title 14:215.1

In 2009 the California legislature passed a bill that would have made it illegal "for any person to willfully sell, display for sale, offer for sale, or give away as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk". Gov. Arnold Scharzenegger vetoed the bill, however, and it never became law.

This gives you an idea of many of the cities stopping companion animal mills and backyard breeders by shutting off outlets for sales and distribution. Contact Animal Law Coalition for help in drafting and passing ordinances like these in your state, county or city.


2 thoughts on “Shutting Off Sales Outlets for Commercial Mass Breeders”

  1. So how many hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice and chinchillas end up in shelters? Where will people get them when stores are banned? Is the goal to just eliminate having these animals as pets?

  2. These animals sold by pet stores are bred and raised  often in terrible conditions. They are exploited by the pet trade just like dogs and cats in mills.  These breeders count on and profit from impulse buys at pet stores or along roadsides or at flea markets or swap meets. These animals are vulnerable, the most likely to be abandoned or dumped.

    You actually can find all of these animals at rescues, sanctuaries and shelters.  The best way to find pet is to contact one of these facilities, research the needs and care of the animal you would like to adopt and make sure you can manage and care for the animal and are committed to having the animal as part of your family.   

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