Phoenix City Council voted 5-3 Wednesday to prohibit the sale of cats and dogs acquired from kitten and puppy mills. Phoenix is the latest city to approve the ordinance banning shops from selling cats and dogs unless they are rescues from a shelter or pound. Los Angeles, San Diego, El Paso and Austin, have already implemented similar laws.
Stores in Phoenix will be required to keep records for up to a year showing where their cats and dogs came from. Anyone violating the new ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days, could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Only cats and dogs received from Maricopa County’s animal shelters, the Arizona Humane Society or non-profit rescue organizations will legally be allowed to be sold in stores. However, there is an exemption for small breeders who sell cats and dogs raised in their home or business, as long as the business is not a pet store. Some stores, including PetSmart and Petco, have only been selling local shelter cats and dogs for some time.
Kari Nienstedt, Arizona director for the Humane Society of the US said;
“The pet stores generally supply puppies (to the public) from animal mills. There are so many great animals looking for homes. The overpopulation problem is so massive.”
The Humane Society estimates that about 2.15 million puppies sold annually originate in puppy mills, compared with an estimated 3 million cats and dogs euthanized in US shelters each year.
Time after time it has been demonstrated animals in disreputable kitten and puppy mills are kept in crowded, unsanitary kennels and squalid wire cages. Often without appropriate veterinary care, food or water, most of these breeding animals also receive little, if any, exercise or socialization. Regardless, those who opposed the ordinance claimed it casts all pet stores in a negative light. Another concern was the ordinance would limit options available to buyers who might not want a rescue cat or dog. Some pet-store employees and council members were concerned that the law was too broad. Reputable stores, they feared, will be prevented from buying from breeders who run a humane operation and the stores will be forced out of business.
The council also passed a ban on the use of animals given as prizes making it a misdemeanor for carnivals and amusement parks to award goldfish, insects, rabbits or other creatures as prizes.