In the U.S. and Canada, more than 200 local governments have enacted ordinances regulating the sale of puppy and/or kitten mill dogs and cats as of February 2017. These municipalities include the cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Boston, and Philadelphia. This legislation impacts more than 39 million people in the U.S. and Canada. View a full list on the Best Friends Animal Society website.
Nearly half of these ordinances were been passed in 2016 alone.
The majority of the retail pet sale ordinances on record provide for a complete prohibition on the retail sale of dogs and cats (and rabbits in some cases) in pet stores unless the animal is sourced from a shelter, humane society, or rescue organization.
Extensive industry research and investigation, government reports, breed club guidelines, and personal experience of those familiar with commercially-bred dogs demonstrate that commercial breeders who sell to pet stores prioritize profit over the well-being of their animals. Reputable breeders do not sell to pet stores. Accordingly, many jurisdictions have eliminated sales from all commercial breeders even though conditions may vary across facilities.
Ordinances prohibiting the retail sale of commercially-bred animals are effective because they focus on fighting puppy mills by eliminating the sales outlet.
Retail sales prohibitions are easy to enforce. Pet stores are already required to disclose the source of their animals. Under a general retail prohibition that ends the sale of all dogs or cats other than those sourced from rescues or shelters, it is easy for local officials to verify that the animal has been obtained from a permissible source.
Attempting to impose legislation on breeders, rather than retail sales, under municipal law is impractical and ineffective because it is impossible to enforce and therefore would be unlikely to have any impact on the puppy mill industry.
As of August 12, 2016, there had been seven lawsuits challenging retail pet sale ordinances brought in federal courts that raise claims under the United States Constitution. Every single lawsuit challenging a retail pet sale ordinance has been decided in favor of the cities that passed the ordinance and courts have upheld the ordinances as constitutional.
Photograph courtesy of Safe Pets for Joliet supporters.