The City of San Diego consistently ranks among the Top 15 pet-friendly cities across the United States. In fact, in December of 2012, Travel + Leisure ranked San Diego #2, scoring a mere fraction behind #1 Portland, Oregon, for best pet-friendly vacation.
But is it, really?
The San Diego City Council is considering a ban on the sale of pets in San Diego’s pet stores. Limiting consumer choice, denying homes to purebred animals and closing down pet stores does not sound very ‘pet-friendly’ to me.
Pet stores are sometimes vilified in the name of animal welfare. What activists don’t want you to know is that closing down pet stores that sell live animals does absolutely nothing to better animal welfare. In fact, closing pet stores would force the sale of live animals on the black market where animal welfare regulations would be meaningless. But animal activists would rather not listen to this because by closing down pet stores, they bask in a false sense of righteousness. As a part of the pet industry I know better.
There are thousands of individuals just like me across America. We all grew up with pets – everything from lizards and fish to puppies, cats and rabbits. We loved animals so much we chose to share that devotion by making healthy animals available to families everywhere. Being able to visit a puppy or kitten is a right of passage for children who often get their first interaction with an animal at a pet store. It is where children of all ages learn how to properly hold an animal, learn about its dietary habits and care.
I am equally supportive of rescue organizations and adoption of homeless pets through shelters. In a free market environment, it is essential that citizens be allowed the freedom to choose how they wish to add to their family with a pet.
I also understand that there are animals wandering the streets because of bad owners and so-called “backyard breeders.” These backyard breeders, whose standards are non-existent and unregulated and whose only interest is to make money under the radar, will produce a potentially unhealthy animal. Those few bad actors, however, have nothing to do with the sale of dogs and cats in regulated pet stores.
The public receives protections from the regulations that guide pet store operations. In addition, many pets come with warranties – another protection for the consumer. The preeminent study on pet store animals, conducted at Cornell University, demonstrates that nobody provides healthier puppies than pet stores and few puppies purchased from pet stores wind up in a shelter or at a rescue organization.
As someone who has dedicated their lives to animals, it is insulting to hear such criticisms about my business and my industry. We work very hard to maintain high standards of care, address any health issues early on and educate the public about the care of their potential pet. People in the pet industry love the animals in their care.
Unfortunately, it will not only be consumers and animals that will suffer should this proposed ban be approved. This is a retail sector. Investments have been made, leases need to be paid, and people rely on these jobs and to support their families. In this economy, it is unconscionable that our city leadership would entertain this idea at all. The focus on this particular segment of our economy– a niche that cannot morph itself into another type of retail on command is unfortunate and, in the end, does not result in any kind of real protection for animals. What it does is harm legitimate businesses and it puts employees and storeowners out of work.
This is a win for absolutely no one. Do not be lulled into some sense of false security about all animals being saved. It is simply untrue. If you really want to help animals, you will oppose the closing of pet stores in your city, you will engage your free time in helping rescue and shelter organizations in your community and you will educate yourself about the USDA’s implementation of the Animal Welfare Act which has been in effect since 1966 and to which amendments have been made since that time expanding regulation to those who breed and sell pets. So, before we start closing retail outlets in our ‘pet-friendly’ city, perhaps proponents of this potential ban might invest some time in educating themselves about the pet industry’s commitment to animals before they try to dismantle a retail system that works to protect pets and their prospective owners.
Stand up and fight the good fight sign our petition and let the city council members know that you support San Diego Puppy
Found and CEO San Diego Puppy, Inc