It’s official! San Francisco has followed the recent trend of forbidding anything other than rescued or sheltered dogs and cats to be sold in pet stores. San Francisco is the largest city so far to jump on the bandwagon, but there are over 200 cities and states where similar legislation has been enacted. These cities and states are battling against the one thing that provides leading pet store chains with animals: puppy and kitten mills. Puppy and kitten mills are extremely well known for exploitation and carelessness towards the animals, including overbreeding & denial of proper veterinary care for the animals.
Puppy mills are everywhere, throughout the US, with several centralized in the Midwest. According to The Puppy Mill Project, there are roughly 10,000 puppy mills just in the United States, which breed over 2 million puppies annually. The breeding parents spend their days in enclosed cages, usually made from wire, nearly all day, every day. This means they are not protected from harsh weather conditions, due to some of the cages being placed outdoors, and normally the cages are stacked on top of each other because mills are often overcrowded.
Kitten mills are roughly the same as puppy mills, since they too keep the cats in an enclosed wire cage. Here, kittens are exploited by being treated poorly and locked in cages most of their lives. Receiving minimal veterinary care, they don’t often receive the human interaction they need because mills are usually low-staffed. The adult cats are bred repeatedly until they can no longer reproduce. That’s when they are released to a rescue group – or worse – euthanized.
Although people in San Francisco are still allowed to purchase their animals from breeders, once it goes into effect the ordinance will require that pet stores only sell dogs and cats acquired from registered rescue organizations, animal shelters, and Humane Societies. This gives more hope that homeless pets will be adopted, along with eliminating a portion of puppy and kitten mill businesses – which is the ultimate goal.
Pet stores in San Francisco will be required to manage records in order to prove where they obtained the animal from, along with posting the information in the enclosure accompanying the pet that is for sale. Additionally, this law will ban the sale of puppies and kittens under 8 weeks old.
Fortunately, no pet stores in San Francisco currently source from puppy and kitten mills, however, the new ordinance will prevent future pet stores from utilizing unsafe breeders. According to the non-profit organization PAWS, approximately 90 percent of puppies currently being sold in pet stores are from puppy mills. Katy Tang, District 4 Supervisor who sponsored the ordinance, stated, “The ordinance will serve as a deterrent, preventing a business from moving into San Francisco and selling animals from irresponsible mass-producing breeders that churn out puppies and kittens as if they were on an assembly line.”
With San Francisco being the largest city to pass this law, Katy Tang also believes it will bring awareness to other cities and states. “We really do believe that it will send a great message not just in San Francisco but across California, nationwide and hopefully worldwide,” Tang mentioned at a board meeting.
In the past, communities have quickly followed suit by enforcing identical laws, but, hopefully, San Francisco, by passing this law, will open the eyes of other districts to the puppy and kitten mill problem. In 2010, six laws banning retail pet sales were enacted, but in 2015 that number increased to 37. A record of 92 new cities and counties banned retail pet sales in 2016 – that’s almost half the list of the current 200+ cities and states executing a similar law in one year. What does 2017 have in store?
These puppy and kitten mills are not only overbreeding, but they are also abusive; housing multiple ill and wounded animals without seeking appropriate veterinary care. These animals are left abandoned to die all while they are caged - with the exception of using them for breeding. On the plus side, the market shares for puppy and kitten mills are regularly shrinking because many cities and states are enacting similar laws. Hopefully other places in the world will jump on this trend and put an end to businesses that encourage puppy mills – mills that are leaving the breeder animals with no lives at all. It’s great to see that San Francisco is taking a stride down the right path and paving the path for future legislation within and outside of California.