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San Diego To Consider Banning Dog, Cat Sales At Retail Stores

Evening Edition

San Diego is considering a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. KPBS reporter Susan Murphy tells us the idea is to encourage more adoptions from shelters.

San Diego is considering a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, mirroring similar initiatives in cities across the nation, including Chula Vista.

Aired 4/30/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego is considering a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits, mirroring similar initiatives in cities across the nation, including Chula Vista.

The San Diego City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee is scheduled on Wednesday to take up the proposed ordinance, which if passed would make it "unlawful for any person to display, offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, give away, transfer or sell any live dog, cat or rabbit in any pet shop, retail business or other commercial establishment located in the city of San Diego, unless the dog, cat or rabbit was obtained from a city or county animal shelter or animal control agency, a humane society or a nonprofit rescue organization."

The ordinance is aimed at curtailing puppy mills and addressing the inhumane conditions in the puppy mill industry.

Animal advocacy groups report 99 percent of canines sold in pet stores come from inhumane puppy mills, which fail to provide adequate veterinary care.

Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society, said the ordinance would help find more homes for the 45,000 animals that come through the shelter system in San Diego County. He said Petco and PetSmart are leaders in retail store pet adoptions.

“And that’s actually a model where adoptable animals from shelters and nonprofits and rescue groups are actually brought into those facilities to be adopted,” said Weitzman.

“And that’s a win for everybody because we adopt animals that are homeless, and those commercial facilities, those stores get to increase their sales and have a great relationship with the community,” he added.

The owner of the lone puppy retail store in the city said the ordinance is unfortunate and that the “bad eggs” shouldn’t ruin it for everybody else.

“The majority of people want a legitimate pet store that deals with legitimate breeders that are American Kennel Club (AKC) and AKC partner registers,” said David Salinas, CEO and founder of San Diego Puppy Inc. “We’ve done everything right in San Diego, and the reason we continue to prosper and grow is because we have a lot of referrals and repeat customers.”

If passed, San Diego would become the 32nd city in nation with a retail pet ban.

Mike Canning, CEO of Pet industry Joint Advisory Council from Washington, DC., Is representing David Salinas at Wednesday’s hearing. Canning said the proposed ordinance stems from puppy market competition.

“Shelters and other types of rescues – they sell a lot of animals, and sometimes for $400 or $500 or $600,” said Canning. “So they’re competition to David. So what they do is they try to drum up the misnomer that all of David’s puppies come from substandard breeders and then legislation occurs.”

The proposed ordinance is backed by the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, Animal Protection and Rescue League, San Diego Animal Defense Team and Companion Animal Protection Society.

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Avatar for user 'MaryLaHay'

MaryLaHay | April 30, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Banning the sale of pet through retail pet stores will be very helpful to our efforts to eliminate abusive puppy mills in our state of Iowa. Unfortunately Iowa is home to approx. 250 USDA-licensed commercial dog-breeders. These are the folks that sell puppies to places like San Diego Puppy. Some USDA-licensees in our state keep more than 1000 adult dogs for the sole purpose of breeding and selling to pet stores. At least 40% of Iowa's USDA licensees have been recently cited for significant violations to the federal Animal Welfare Act. Visit our website at to see photos of conditions in some Iowa mills. Many Iowa breeders sell AKC puppies. Being AKC registered offers zero guarantee that you're dealing with a reputable breeder or that you'll end up with a healthy puppy. So along with being an inhumane, this industry presents a huge consumer protection issue. People who buy these puppies are often left hanging with zero recourse for recouping the exorbitant price and huge vet bills for a puppy that ends up sick. San Diego and other communities are performing a significant service to their community by banning these sales. Bottom line is, if you can't visit the kennel and see the mother of the puppy and see where she lives, chances are you're supporting a very cruel industry. We support San Diego in making this humane decision.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 30, 2013 at 10:07 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Another government mandate, coated with "feel-good syrup", that is sure to backfire. So we stop selling purebreds totally and substitute pets that were unwanted by others. These donated pets often come with major problems. Sure, that would be the ideal pet for your kids-not.

Some people just don't want "broken" pets. This new law would give them no choice. If inacted, I urge people to vote on it with their feet and hold off getting that pet or go to Orange County for a real choice.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | April 30, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago


The USDA is entirely useless and their labeling and certifications are meaningless and, in some cases like this, harmful to public and animal health.

Keep up your good work in Iowa and hopefully, all the "USDA-licensed" puppy mills will be shut down one day. Hopefully the USDA will be shut down too.

As for the San Diego ordinance to ban all dog, cat, and rabbit sales in the city, I wholeheartedly support it and I'm sure most other San Diegans do too.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | April 30, 2013 at 10:37 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago


There are lots of purebreds in the shelters. Have you ever been to one? And what exactly makes a purebred better than a mutt? In fact, mutts have lower rates of genetic diseases and live longer than purebreds.

Don't think you can flee to Orange County to buy from puppy mills. Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Aliso Viejo, and Dana Point have already banned puppy sales with more cities following suit. It is only a matter of time before that industry of cruelty is entirely shut down.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 10:42 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

I wonder what the unintended consequences will be.

Pet owners refraining from spay/neuter to be able to replace pets no longer available for purchase at need?

Mail order pets?

Underground pet stores?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 30, 2013 at 11:54 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree that unintended consequences should be considered no matter what the issue is, but the alternative of doing nothing is unacceptable - the puppy mill industry is out of control.

I am in favor of the ban, but points like Benz is bringing-up should be considered and any ban should come with monitoring that such things don't occur.

Muckapoo1, your post is very troubling. You don't seem to be concerned with the overall welfare of the pet population at all and more concerned with being able to buy whatever you want as though these are not living creatures but simply a commodity for your amusement.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 30, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

I am aware of the situation. I currently have a displaced pet. I however, think that this ban eliminates choice. Nobody wants puppy mills. There are, however, reputable breeders that this will hurt. Seems to me there is a happier solution to both sides.
While I am perfectly satisfied with my new previously displaced pet, I have had shelter pets in the past that, after a few short days, attacked my kids or chewed up the kitchen cabinets. It is hard to change bad habits in older animals. Many have no history.
An additional concern is how quickly free enterprise can be stopped in a free society. Reputable breeders are being thrown under the bus with this law. I guess this solution only makes sense if the authorities have thrown in the towel to upholding the laws already on the books. Yep, lot easier to infringe on people's rights than get the job done.
PS: Peking-you prejudge my concerns. You have no idea. My current pet was left on my street. I took it in, had it neutered, de-liced, de-wormed, got all of it's shots. It is a joy to have. I do, however, see many flaws in this new law.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

I think the USA in general and CA in particular are in a rush to patch any apparent concern with a law. I further believe that this practice leads to poorly thought out, confusing and marginally enforceable laws, many of which cause harm to citizens who were not the intended target of the restriction and were never a problem before the law was passed.

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Avatar for user 'MaryLaHay'

MaryLaHay | April 30, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

To Muckapoo1: No "reputable" breeder would ever sell their puppies through a pet store. Reputable breeders want to know who purchases their puppies. Also, I have 4 dogs; 1 I purchased as a puppy and 3 rescues. The one I purchased has had far more temperament issues than any of the rescues. So you see, there is no guaranteed cause-and-effect. The only thing you can absolutely be guaranteed of is that when you buy a puppy at a pet store, you are supporting a puppy mill. Period.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | April 30, 2013 at 3:45 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Muckapoo and Benz,

What sense does it make to buy a breeder dog or cat for hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars when there are countless in shelters for free?

Shelters also use tax dollars, so it is in the best interest of taxpayers to adopt from a shelter to reduce public expenditures.

And where do you think shelter animals come from? Breeders. They are the cause of the problem.

Prohibiting retail sales is clear, understandable, and easily enforceable.

As MaryLaHay put it so well:

"The only thing you can absolutely be guaranteed of is that when you buy a puppy at a pet store, you are supporting a puppy mill. Period."

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Avatar for user 'Livingthedream'

Livingthedream | May 1, 2013 at 5:53 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

CA Defender...Even the high and mighty Wayne Pacelle, CEO of Human Society of the United States, supports responsible pet retail stores selling puppies. Check out his blog of Feb 27 2013 where he says and I quote " We thank the Obama administration for proposing this rule to deal with Internet sellers and to have them brought under the regulatory authority of the USDA, just like the large-scale sellers of dogs to pet stores."

WOW! In this one statement, he endorses both the USDA oversight (no matter what many of you think of this organization) and pet stores buying from USDA breeders Your broad stroke comment tying pet store dogs to puppy mills is simply tired rhetoric, a slogan without truth.

This is about choice. My chidren have enjoyed the wonderul experience of raising a puppy in their home. If you did your homework, you would know that shelters are the largest cause of the problem. They bring in dogs from overseas to sell for profit with absolutely no knowledge of its background. They also buy from unregulated breeders and having them shipped in vehicles I would not ride in, again to sell for profit.

Ask yourself this: How many stray dogs do you see running around San Diego? I havent seen one yet. Yet they claim they have 40 - 60,000 / year? Mmmm.

The store has the right to stay open. It meets all state and federal regulation plus pays taxes to our city. Your opinion is just that, opinion, and misquided at that. Opinion running commerce = dangerous!

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | May 1, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

CD, not all pets are fungible.
Clearly there are people who believe that breeders provide superior animals or there would be no breeders in business. That you disagree is fine, but legislating against someone else's preference does not support freedom.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | May 1, 2013 at 11:29 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Livingthedream, what we are seeing are well-intentioned groups that have run out of ideas to stop puppy mills. That, coupled with over-extended law enforcement, leads them take what they thought was the path of least resistance. If it passes, they will have a nice warm feeling, but the problem will not be solved. Store owners and others will lose and pet selection will be cut. They will be left with another law that will be impossible to enforce.
This may sound harsh, but I have noted the groups backing this. If this legislation is designed to greatly improve the matter, perhaps my contributions are not as needed in the future. Their form of problem solving (pushing for laws that limit rights) is nothing I can support.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 1, 2013 at 12:17 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Livingthedream wrote: " If you did your homework, you would know that shelters are the largest cause of the problem."

This is completely untrue.

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Avatar for user 'pbslvr'

pbslvr | May 1, 2013 at 5:05 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

I would be one of the first people to call for shutting down a business that was working unethically. If we had pet stores that were mistreating animals, selling animals from puppy mills and all sorts of other abuse I would be in favor of this city legislation. But my question is, "If we only have one live pet store and this person is operating ethically do we need to shut down this one business?" All of my cats over the years have either come from shelters or were otherwise unwanted. All have been spayed/neutered. I am certainly not an anti-tax, anti-government type of person but is legislation needed if it isn't going to be of some use?

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Avatar for user 'Livingthedream'

Livingthedream | May 2, 2013 at 7:08 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Peking...untrue you say, but you offer nothing but a statement,

In 2011, over 200,000 dogs were brought into this country by shelters, like Mexico and S. America and even Europe. Shelters are Totally unregulated. If you think USDA regulated breeders are a sham, what do you think goes on in these countries?

I realize that sitting at the comfort of one's laptop can provide one with a cozy view of what one believes in. This isn't a criticism, it is just reality. But the truth comes at a price....research and an open mind. For instance, do you know that the HSUS is being sued under RICO statutes, violating Racketeering laws, lying on the witness stand in a case against Feld Entertainment group? (Google it!) The ASPCA has already elected to settle for $9.3M , while Mr. Pacelle has elected to continue the fight, which WILL cost him $10's of $$MM's of $$. And oh, by the way, HSUS also opposed the Animal Welfare Act....go ahead, do the research! And, if you didn't know, PETA sued Sea World in 2011 for anti slavery laws for keeping Shamu on their premises (go ahead, google it). Lastly, HSUS gives less than 1% of its budget to animal shelters. Isn't it odd that they don't say that on their commercials when they ask for your donations of $19.95/month?? (their tax records are a public document....go ahead...check it out).

The point here is that these people say and do anything and are not credible. What they want is to put ALL breeders out of business and for everyone to buy from shelters. Ask yoursef, where would our pets come from if they are successful? All shelters only SELL neutered and spayed animals.....makes one wonder, I should think. In one or two generations........bye, bye pets!

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Avatar for user 'Livingthedream'

Livingthedream | May 2, 2013 at 8:34 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

pbslvr - BTW, I could not agree with you more. Common sense needs to rule.

As in any industry or setting, there are bad and good. Anyone ever meet a shady lawyer? A shister used car salesman? How about a diagnosis from a doctor or hospital that spells malpractice? Hey, my 6th grader, a straight A student, has a very mean spirited, controlling and lazy math teacher who has made my daugther afraid of asking a question in class for fear of getting yelled at (The teacher has tenure says her principal) The list can go on and on....

The point is, of course, the bad ones have to either go or step up, including irresponsible breeders and shabby pet retailers. However, the good ones and the industry should not be penalized nor painted with a broad stoke. Common sense.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 2, 2013 at 10:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Livingthedream, rescuing animals is not part of the problem.

Regardless of where they come from, Shelters are trying to clean-up a mess that others create (abandoning unwanted pets, poor regulation of feral populations, etc.).

Puppy Mills, however, are CREATING a problem by mistreating animals, spreading disease, etc. (I don't know a single case of someone buying a dog or cat from a pet store and not finding out it had some kind of health problem).

If you want to make an argument that U.S. shelters should not be tasked with trying to clean up problems other countries have with made with regards to their pet populations, then I am willing to listen to that, but to suggest animal shelters are the PROBLEM is just simply not accurate.

Animal shelters are RESPONDING TO the problem, not causing it.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | May 2, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

If there are so many pets in San Diego shelters, why did someone or some agency bring in animals from New York after Hurricane Sandy? At whose expense? And why so quickly? Within weeks, probably while the owners were still trying to locate them. Something smells here with this proposed law. I question anytime some group wants to eliminate all competition. I strongly believe that this proposed law is unconstitutional.

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Avatar for user 'Livingthedream'

Livingthedream | May 3, 2013 at 10:29 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Check the record the last outbreak of Distemper in the US. It was in Chicago and tracked to dogs from overseas. And guess what, it was the local shelter that brought them in for sale for profit.
I don't know any of the people you know who bought a puppy from a retailer, but to say all of them are sick is pretty sad really. (Hey, if San Diego puppy can just get 100 signitures from customers who had a great experience, would that be enough proof? How about 200....300? What is your number??) It is just another statment that cannot be substantiated as it is not true. I realize that radicals don't like to be confronted with the truth as they have nothing to fall back on but their memorized slogans and just doesn't stand up to facts. How about visiting a USDA breeder and see for yourself rather than drink the cool aid. Again. what will it take for you to do your homework??
Hey, my friend in Costa Mesa took home a shelter dog which foamed at the mouth and attacked other dogs...the shelter didn't even want to take it back. (I can get the letter notarized if you want proof that she used to threaten suit). And when they finally did take it back under duress, she had to sign a form saying that she would not come back...pretty silly actualy.
But that doesn't mean that shelters are neccessarily bad or don't do a service.
Its irresponsible pet owners that are usually dropping off their pets as they decided it was too much work to care for one or they don't know how to train properly (same thing really) Why not go after them??

Responsible retailers provide pups that are microchipped and training. San Diego Puppy does....and I know because I checked. These are not the pups showing up in shelters. I challenge you to your local shelter and see if there are any there with chips that can be tied back to the store....

And BTW, who said anything about shelters cleaning up the problems in other countries....I agree it is not there jobs. These animals shouldn't be here yet they (shelters) often buy from these countries and therefore, contribute to the problem. It is not the responsible retailers and breeders as you so adamantly suggest and you have no facts to support your statements.. However, I will say this again, any unregulated breeder or pet retailer needs to go the way of the dinosaur... San Diego Puppy and their suppliers operate legally and with all proper protocols and do not deserve this kind of rancour....yet forcing people to the unemployment line is not your concern, is it?

Lastly, go down to your local shelter ask to see the records where all their dogs came from...I betcha they won't show you the documents. C'mon, betcha!

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