This past week the City of West Hollywood took a landmark stand for shelter animals like these cuties!
In a compassionate and historic move led by council member Jeffrey Prang, this progressive city council voted to give shelter animals a fighting chance. The recently passed ordinance prohibits pet stores from selling cats and dogs other than those who have been rescued from shelters.
And frankly there is no need for pet stores to access animals from anywhere but the shelters. On any given day at a city shelter or rescue group, there is no shortage of purebred and mixed puppies and kittens just waiting to be loved! But while helping to rescue innocent adoptable pets is certainly reason enough for such legislation, it was initially prompted by an investigation revealing that a West Hollywood pet store was selling dogs supplied by inhumane puppy mill breeders. The same store was also importing puppies illegally for resale, a breach of federal law. Sadly, these are common ways in which pet stores get their kittens and puppies.
Shockingly, the store's suppliers were USDA approved. The reality is that USDA standards are grossly under-enforced and violations simply result in small fines that these breeders often build in to their cost of doing business. According to Ed Buck, director of Social Compassion in Legislation, who contributed to writing the ordinance, "It is widely understood among breeders and breed clubs that 'responsible breeders' do not sell to pet stores."
The store involved in the investigation, Elite Animals, agreed to halt these inhumane practices thanks to local pressure from protesters and The Companion Animal Protection Society. The ban, which goes into effect in March, is a testament to West Hollywood's commitment to compassion The city's leadership is not only banning commerce that supports this cruelty but they are also encouraging business to take pro-social action by showcasing shelter animals in need.
The ordinance does not affect responsible legal breeders from doing business as they have. But the vast majority of pets sold in pet stores are not from responsible breeders who attend to the conditions and welfare of their animals. Sadly, the grossly inhumane conditions uncovered in thousands of such puppy mill operations across the county are nothing but deplorable. And while these breeders might be USDA approved, they are routinely revealed to engage in inhumane practices such as overcrowding as well as failing to provide needed veterinary care, protection from the elements and even sufficient food and water. Many also routinely mate mothers with sons and wean puppies far too early, leading to serious health and behavioral problems later.
So a big round of applause for the pioneering efforts of the West Hollywood City Council. Let's hope other cities will follow their lead and make compassion a part of public policy! If you'd like to spearhead such an effort in your town, contact Ed@socialcompassion.org.
Dr. Pia Salk
PS: Check out the details of the wonderful adoptable pets in the gallery:
Cracker Jack (Urgent!), from Mobile, Alabama
Stephanie, from New York City
Ben, from Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Buonomus, from New York City
Blueberry, from Anaheim, California
Kittens from Chicago
Mazel, from Princeton, New Jersey