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Council rejects ‘puppy mill’ law that would ban sales of commercially bred dogs

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After a four-hour hearing, the Oceanside city council rejected a proposed ordinance that would have made it illegal for pet stores to sell dogs “not obtained from the shelter or from tax-exempt rescue organizations.”

In a 3 to 2 vote last week lawmakers in the southern California city declined a measure introduced by Council Member Esther Sanchez, who said one of her main goals was to ban retail sales of animals coming from commercial breeding establishments, more commonly known as “puppy mills.”

Dozens of attendees supporting the ban spoke before the council. Many of them detailed what they alleged to be poor conditions and care in such facilities, resulting in severely matted hair, skin sores, various other untreated ailments, extremes of heat and cold, and emotional dysfunction in dogs who breeders keep in small cages for years, providing little or no veterinary care, human interaction, socialization, or recreation while the animals produce multiple litters of offspring for them to sell.

David Salinas, owner of pet shops Oceanside Puppy and San Diego Puppy told council members that the companies who supply animals to his stores “are regulated by federal and state standards. On top of that we don’t work with breeders that have direct violations that have directly to do with the welfare of the animal. They may have indirect violations like the food bowl wasn’t covered. OK, well, that needs to be fixed. But that’s not a bad breeder. If a breeder has a direct violation, something having to do with the welfare of the animal, we cut them off.”

Salinas argued further that if the council were to pass the ordinance, “You’re putting me out of a job. You’re putting my employees out of a job. I just want to remind you guys of liberty. We have the right as citizens, as a legal business owner who’s the backbone of Oceanside, to run a legitimate business.”

“It’s disappointing,” local shelter head Michelle Quigley commented in an interview with Animal Issues Reporter (AIR) after the thumbs-down vote. Senior director of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA North Campus, Quigley said, “We thought they would hear the needs of the community. We support this ordinance. As long as people continue to buy puppies from pet stores, those commercial breeding establishments will continue to stay in business and to thrive. It’s commercially sanctioned animal cruelty.”

Read more about the Oceanside hearing.

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