San Francisco officials have voted to ban the sale of non-rescue dogs and cats at pet shops as part of a concerted effort to eradicate “inhumane” puppy breeding operations in the city.
The amendment will not affect licenced breeders however it will aim to tackle the prevalence of large-scale “puppy mills”, while helping to facilitate the adoption of thousands of animals already occupying the city's shelters.
San Francisco will not be the first US city to implement such a measure, which will also ban the sale of animals under eight weeks old. Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Austin all enforce similar legislation.
“Most animal lovers are horrified at the thought of keeping their beloved family pet in a dirty wire cage for a second — let alone a week, month or even years. Yet, that is the fate of many animals at large-scale commercial breeding operations across the nation, including the mothers of many puppies and kittens sold in pet shops,” the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wrote in an op-ed piece.
“In response, more than 200 cities and counties across the nation have banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores.”
Mimi Bekhechi, animal cruelty charity PETA’s director of international programmes, praised the decision as “progressive” and example-setting.
“With this vote, San Francisco has proved itself to be the city of love for millions of dogs and cats in desperate need of homes.
"Pet shops' greed fuels the cruel commercial breeding industry that keeps female dogs and cats prisoner inside filthy wire cages – whose only purpose is to churn out litters of inbred puppies and kittens who are then taken away from them, transported hundreds of miles, and sold,” she told The Independent.
“The city has recognised that animals are not commodities and that there's a direct link between the industry and the millions of dogs and cats in shelters around the world who are euthanised each year because there aren't enough good homes for them all.”
District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang, who sponsored the legislation, also called on the US Agriculture Department to reinstate information on its website documenting animal cruelty cases, which was removed earlier in the month.
San Francisco currently has no known pet shops selling dogs and cats, however Ms Tang said the measure would allow the city’s Animal Care and Control Department to prevent future shops opening.
“This ordinance will serve as a deterrent, preventing a business from moving into San Francisco and selling animals from irresponsible mass-producing breeders that churn out puppies and kittens as if they were on an assembly line,” she wrote.
“Beyond protecting consumers and cutting off the supply chain, this ordinance also acknowledges San Francisco businesses for their humane business practices.”
San Francisco’s animal department, along with the city’s branch of the SPCA charity, re-home more than 6,000 animals each year.