San Francisco and Austin Consider Bans on Retail Sale of Pets
The cities of San Francisco, Calif., and Austin, Texas, seem to have caught the West Hollywood fever. Recently, each respective city considered proposals on banning the retail sale of pets and just yesterday, the Austin city council passed a ban proposed after a Petland chain store, a company denounced for selling puppy mill dogs, opened in the city two years ago. It closed its doors on July 18 because of the pending ban.
“This is the perfect time to have this law passed because it won’t affect any local businesses,” said David Lundstedt, vice chair of the Austin Animal Advisory Commission, to statesman.com. “But it will keep any future businesses from selling puppies and kittens.”
Citizens in the burgeoning city are at odds about whether Austin’s ban is appropriate. While some applaud the council’s move to ban the sale of pets for the humane protection of animals, others denounced the ban as an infringement on citizens’ rights.
“Thanks for nothing. Take away a few more of our rights! Give the rights to the animals or our elected officials,” commented Rick Jordan on the statesman.com comments forum. “How idiotic can you get? Now, we will lose all control on the sale of dogs and cats. At least if stores sell them they can be regulated. Now you’ll have no clue if an animal has its shots or has had proper health care.”
“This is a wise and compassionate move. Those of you who are complaining about this, visit Town Lake Animal Shelter and you will understand why this is needed,” responded Stephen on the same comments forum.
This debate rages on in several U.S. cities. In February, West Hollywood passed a ban on the sale of dogs and cats in the city’s pet stores. Soon after, Hermosa Beach, Calif., jumped on the anti-puppy mill bandwagon and in March, Connecticut considered Senate Bill 397, targeted at pet stores selling ill dogs from puppy mills. Other cities such as South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M., have buckled down and approved bans as well.
San Francisco, known for setting the bar on many social issues, has a more unique pet sale ban on its hands. Whereas most cities only went as far as banning the sale of dogs and cats, San Francisco, reports Maria La Ganga for the Los Angeles Times, has extended a compassionate hand to all things furry and feathered.
“If the prohibition passes, it would mean no cats for sale here, no dogs, no hamsters, no rats, no guinea pigs, no macaws, no parakeets, no cockatiels, no finches,” wrote La Ganga. “If Junior wanted a snake, Mom could probably still buy him one within the city’s precious 47 square miles. But forget about those mice for Drago’s dinner.”
The proposed ban created a media frenzy, while concerned citizens and rescue organizations lined the rooms of city hall to make their voices heard. Overwhelmed by the response, members of the Animal Control & Welfare Commission have opted to vote on the ban in August, at which point the proposed ordinance will move on to the Board of Supervisors. Surprisingly, San Francisco is home to only one pet store that sells puppies, and about another half dozen that sell other types of animals, said La Ganga. But like Austin, talks of large chain pet stores moving into town prompted city officials to take preemptive steps.
“People have got to wake up to the fact that [most] dogs coming from pet stores are coming from puppy mills,” Mary Jo Dazey, an anti-puppy mill activist, told Rebecca Dube of msnbc.com.
Though citizens against the ban in both San Francisco and Austin are up in arms, Dube cites the success in Albuquerque as proof of a ban’s positive results. Peggy Weigle, executive director of Animal Humane New Mexico, told Dube that since the city’s ban, animal adoptions have “increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent.” Surely these are the type of changes in numbers that all city shelters would like to see.
Weigle recently tried to fill the pet store void by opening a boutique-style adoption center where potential pet parents could go adopt with that same guilt-free, retail store type of vibe. Although they expected to place 45 animals the first month, Dube reports that they were able to place 118: Proof that such bans can lead to positive changes.
Still, San Francisco’s ban will go a step beyond what any other city has done, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is weary of such a move.
“I think the best thing would be to start with [banning] the sale of dogs and cats from these pet stores,” Pacelle told La Ganga. “With a broader ban, I think you attract a set of additional opponents that sink an otherwise achievable goal.”