A Phoenix ordinance against puppy-mill sales at pet stores was just upheld in U.S. District Court
Federal courts in Florida, Illinois and Rhode Island upheld similar ordinances earlier this year. Obviously, the courts agree that one viable way to get at the puppy mills is to limit the supply sold in pet stores.
And the pet store industry sees the trend – how can they not? And they reply, “Rather than improving breeding conditions and decreasing shelter overpopulation, the ‘burden of this ordinance will fall hard’ on a responsible pet store and the reputable breeders who raise their puppies,” Mike Bober, executive vice president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), said in a statement released on Tuesday, July 28. And “the overarching question remains – is singling out and banning an exemplary local business smart public policy or the best way to achieve the goal we all share? The facts say no.”
The American Pet Products Association (APPA), the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) and the World Pet Association (WPA) collectively donated $125,000 to support a lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix on behalf of Phoenix pet store Puppies ‘N Love.
I an earlier release APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere stated, “Bans of this nature often punish stores and breeders who sell quality pets and breeds that are unavailable in shelters, and these restrictions threaten our industry. By working together to help overturn these types of bans, we can use this opportunity to establish better standards for both breeders and stores.”
I disagree with Mr. Bober and Mr. Vetere. If pet stores adopt animals (instead of selling them) obviously the adoption rates increase. How can they not? Also, reputable breeders just don’t ever, ever sell to pet stores. Responsible breeders want to know (as they should) who is purchasing their carefully raised dogs or cats. Responsible breeders typically ask more questions than the one question pet pet store employees ask, which is, “will that be cash or credit.”
Like dozens of cities across the country, Phoenix passed an anti-puppy-mill ordinance in December 2013 so that pet stores and dealers could only adopt dogs and cats through reputable animal shelters or non-profit rescue organizations. If the law allowed for responsible breeders to come into the store and inform people about their breed, and later sell puppies or kittens, I’d have no problem with that either.
The purpose of the law was two-fold: Crack down on inhumane breeding practices and reduce the euthanasia rate for homeless animals by steering people toward shelters and rescues when they want to get an animal. Local public officials around America like this because euthanasia does have a real dollar and cents cost associated, but also because public officials are pet owners too – and increasingly – though slowly – people are ‘getting it.’
And the truth is – and this is an important point – that the pet store industry groups such as the PIJAC and AAPA don’t truly represent the industry majority, which I have a long history of supporting. And I’ve been delighted to see the retail pet industry grow. The industry is growing, while increasingly most pet stores in 2015 just do not sell dogs, cats or rabbits. For starters the ‘big boys,’ Petco, PETsMART and Pet Supplies Plus don’t sell these animals, and most boutique or specialty pet stores don’t either. They want nothing to do with it, as they understand where the animals are sourced. It’s a minority that sell these live animals. However, these pet stores are also mostly run by conglomerates.
PIJAC Chairman Ken Oh said before the ruling, “If we are successful in overturning the Phoenix ban with this lawsuit it could encourage others to challenge pet sale bans and give cities nationwide pause on passing similar bans.”
Nwo, that cant be – as still another ruling happens against them, so what do they do?
Though a number of other similar ordinances have been challenged since Puppies ‘N Love first announced the lawsuit, none has been successful. At this point, it’s unclear whether the plaintiffs will appeal the Phoenix decision, but Bober said in the statement that instead of fighting over an ordinance, “the far better course is to enforce rigorous breeding standards and to arm consumers with information so they are empowered to make sure their dog comes from a reputable breeder.” In theory, I don’t completely disagree…the problem is again that pet stores just don’t purchase – ever – from responsible breeders.
Overwhelmingly the general public (even non pet owners) are in support of the effort to limit the pet store sales and at least hinder (if not shut down) some puppy mills, as is the veterinary community as a whole (check the Facebook page Veterinary Professionals Against Puppy Mills). The Federal courts are clearly and consistently repeating their decisions to defend the local laws to limit pet store sales. And even as I write this, more communities are seeking to get on board, to limit what pet stores can sell.
I’ve long suggested that the likes of PIJAC and APPA come to the table to meet with others, and find some sort of compromise. The problem is that the industry supplying the animals to pet stores remains massive. Perhaps a new paradigm can be developed for what pet stores can sell, and where those animals are from. No one wants to put pet stores out of business (which doesn’t need to happy anyway).
Meanwhile, city after city will continue to prohibit dogs and cats (and often rabbits) from being sold at pet stores, and the courts will no doubt continue to support these laws. Finally, then – a victory for the animals.
Judge’s words in Phoenix ruling Here.