Why City of San Diego Proposed Pet Store Ban Ordinance section 42.0706 is Unconstitutional

Why City of San Diego Proposed Ordinance section 42.0706 is Unconstitutional


The “puppy” Ordinance prohibiting the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits at pet stores  is

unconstitutional because:


1)      It Is Void for Vagueness: It reads “prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in retail businesses, pet stores, or other commercial establishments within City Limits”. As written, it is difficult to understand what is and is not included under “other commercial establishments”. That could mean a veterinary clinic, an animal hospital, a farm. An average person may also be afraid to sell a dog or cat or a rabbit to another person (a pet is considered property) for fear that he/she may be violating the law. The US Constitution allows the sale of personal property between individuals.


Generally a statute  is  void for vagueness  and unenforceable if it is too vague for the

average citizen to understand. There are several ways, senses or reasons a statute might be

considered vague. In general, a statute might be called void for vagueness reasons when an

average citizen cannot generally determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is

prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed.


2)      Violates the Dormant Commerce Clause: The pets sold at the commercial

establishments, specifically the puppies, are bred by nationally recognized AKC certified breeders, meaning the best of the best. By limiting the sale of puppies to municipal animal shelters, the humane society or non-profit rescue organizations, the Ordinance is limiting or closing down altogether access to the market place in the City of San Diego by out of state participants. The Supreme Court in multiple cases has ruled this practice as unconstitutional. It is difficult to justify any legitimate reason why in-staters should have access to a state’s resources that is denied to out-of-staters. All the out-of-state breeders are highly reputable and follow all federal and state law, including the Animal Welfare Act, and are duly licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.


In addition to being unconstitutional, the ordinance would in effect result in the loss of several jobs of the employees of the pet stores who sell the animals affected. These businesses all pay sales taxes, state and federal income taxes and property taxes. All that would go away because of this ordinance.


The stores that sell puppies are highly specialized in the care and handling of puppies. Whereas puppies sold in animal shelters or the humane society are mixed with other animals such as birds, snakes, rats, in huge numbers. The establishments that sell puppies only have a few at any one time and each puppy receives extensive individual attention, which is not possible in the large animal shelters. All puppies that arrive at the puppy stores are eventually sold, whereas puppies that are put up for adoption at the humane society or animal shelters may eventually if not adopted, be destroyed. It is better to let the market place handle this situation.


Current law such as the “Puppy Lemon Law” as well as the self-regulation of reputable professional breeders, all of which employ veterinary doctors, ensure the welfare of the puppies.


This ordinance is unnecessary and I urge a “no” vote.


By David Salinas, President

San Diego Puppy Inc.

Preserve your right to choose the pet you want.

A proposed ordinance, stripping you of your right to choose where you find your next puppy or kitten will be considered by the San Diego City Council at its next meeting, tomorrow, July 9th!

The ordinance will prohibit the sale of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and rabbits in San Diego pet stores, retail businesses or other commercial establishments, unless such animals were obtained directly from a municipal animal shelter, humane society or animal rescue.


How you can help.

    1. Email or call your council member (contact info below) to share your thoughts on why this proposed ban is bad for pet owners and the pets they love in San Diego.

Suggested talking points for your conversation:

      • Pet stores are a source for happy, healthy puppies and are regulated at the state and federal level in San Diego.
      • Pet stores provide a service to the community by helping citizens find the best breed for their lifestyle.
      • Making it illegal to buy a puppy from San Diego pet stores will drive residents to the Internet or other unregulated sources to find a puppy for their family.
      • Those who truly care about the welfare of animals work to raise standards of care, and eliminate pet providers who don’t maintain acceptable standards.
      • Laws should focus on shutting down bad pet stores, not ALL pet stores.

Click the Council Member’s name to send an email or call the number listed:

District 1       Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner           619-236-6611
District 2       Councilmember Kevin Faulconer                        619-236-6622
District 3       Council President Todd Gloria                             619-236-6633
District 4       Councilmember Myrtle Cole                               619-236-6644
District 5       Councilmember Mark Kersey                             619-236-6655
District 6       Councilmember Lorie Zapf                                  619-236-6616
District 7       Councilmember Scott Sherman                          619-236-6677
District 8       Councilmember David Alvarez                            619-236-6688
District 9       Councilmember Marti Emerald                            619-236-6699

  1. Attend the July 9th City Council meeting:

City Administration Building
Council Chambers – 12th Floor
202 “C” Street
San Diego, CA  92101
Afternoon Session – Approximately 2:00 p.m.

Stand and be heard. 

Your voice matters and it is essential for lawmakers to hear from you if you want to protect your right to choose the pet you want in San Diego. Please contact your council member and attend the July 9th City Council meeting!