Watch West Hollywood City Council Ban Retail Dog, Cats Sales

pet store protest in West HollywoodUpdate Feb. 3, 2010: The West Hollywood City Council has voted unanimously to ban pet stores from sellling dogs and cats. One outlet for sales of dogs and cats trapped in the pet trade has been cut off in West Hollywood.

For more on the ordinance, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: West Hollywood may become the second California city to ban the retail sale of dogs and cats. South Lake Tahoe banned retail sales of dogs and cats in 2009.

The West Hollywood City Council may vote on the ban tonight, February 2, 2010.

The city council meeting will be held at WEST HOLLYWOOD PARK, 647 N. SAN VICENTE BOULEVARD beginning at 6:30 p.m. PST. If you live in West Hollywood, please plan to attend and call the city council at (323) 848-6460 or click here to send them a message in support of this ban. Please be polite.

The proposed ordinance was initiated by City Council Members Jeffrey Prang and Michael Haibach. Pet stores that currently sell dogs and cats will have until Sept. 17, 2010 to comply.

Carole Raphaelle Davis, West Coast Director for Companion Animal Protection Society, which has worked to get the city council to consider and pass this proposal, hailed this ordinance as a significant step in the battle to shut down puppy mills.  

More than 90% of dogs and cats sold in pet stores come from puppy mills and kitten mills. Information provided to city council members states "[d]ocumented problems of puppy mills include over breeding, inbreeding, veterinary care that doesn’t meet the same standards as other breeders, relatively poor quality of food and shelter, lack of human socialization, and overcrowded cages. Dogs bred in puppy mills are more likely to have behavior and/or health problems. While kitten factories are not as common as puppy mills, similar problems are reported regarding kitten factories. The only way to protect the welfare and safety of companion animals and to free them from the misery of horrid mass bred producers is to eliminate the demand."

"A review of state and USDA inspection reports from more than 100 breeders who sold animals to the nation’s largest retail pet store chain revealed that more than 60 percent of the inspections found serious violations of basic animal care standards, including sick or dead animals in their cages, lack of proper veterinary care, inadequate shelter from weather conditions, and dirty, unkempt cages that were too small.

"A 2005 undercover investigation of California pet stores revealed that nearly half of the pet shops visited displayed animals that showed visible signs of illness, injury, or neglect, and nearly half of the stores also sold animals showing clear symptoms of psychological distress."

Responsible dog and cat breeders do not sell their animals to pet stores.

Current Laws

The federal Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. 2131 et seq. and state laws have not gone far enough to alleviate the suffering of dogs and cats trapped in the pet trade and sold through retail outets.  State laws include the Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act (California Health & Safety Code section 122125 et seq.); the Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act (California Health & Safety Code section 122045 et seq.); the Pet Store Animal Care Act (California Health & Safety Code section 122350 et seq.

The Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act requires pet dealers (i.e. retail sellers of more than fifty (50) dogs or cats in the previous year; not including animal shelters and humane societies) to have a permit, maintain certain health and safety standards for their animals, sell only healthy animals, and provide written spay-neuter, health, animal history and other information and disclosures to pet buyers.

A purchaser can return and obtain a refund or exchange the dog and also receive reimbursement of veterinary bills up to the purchase price if a veterinarian issues a statement that within 15 days of the sale the dog showed signs of illness or disease that existed at the time of purchase or within 1 year of the sale was discovered to have a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the animal’s health or will require hospitalization or surgery. If the dog has died, the purchaser may receive a refund and reimbursement for the cost of veterinary care up to the amount of the purchase price.

As an incentive to keep the surviving dog in its new home, the law provides the purchaser may keep the dog and receive reimbursement for veterinary bills up to 150% of the sales price.  

Purchasers, however, must notify breeders within 5 days of learning of the illness, disease, or congenital condition.  

In the event of a claim the breeder can demand that unless the dog is dead, his or her own veterinarian examine it at his or her cost.

Pet stores must supply purchasers with written notice of these rights.

The Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act offers protection similar to that of the Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act, except that it applies only to dog breeders who sold or gave away either three litters or 20 dogs in the previous year.

The Pet Store Animal Care Act requires every pet store that sells live companion animals to formulate a documented program consisting of routine care, preventative care, emergency care, disease control and prevention, veterinary treatment, and euthanasia.


Photo courtesy of Carole Raphaelle Davis, author of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife