It is all too easy now for people to shop for their new furry friend without knowing the true origination of his or her new pet. Between dishonest breeders, online sellers, and puppy mills, the furry multibillion dollar industry is grossly unregulated, fostering the buying and selling of sick and mistreated pets. With the success of online transactions, the problem has grown in mass proportion and mistreating animals for a profit has become a way of business for many entities.
A federal judge in Phoenix, Arizona recently upheld a previous ordinance stating all dogs and cats sold in pet stores must be rescue or shelter animals, adding to the nearly 60 other U.S. cities who have similar laws. In the Phoenix area alone, there are an estimated 23,000 dogs (not even including the felines!) sold from pet stores every single year. While people are coming and going from many of these “puppy mill endorsing” pet stores, buying up dogs with mystery backgrounds, countless others remain in shelters and on streets.
In October 2012, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve an ordinance targeting puppy mills, becoming the largest city to do so. Under this law, pet stores are required to purchase and sell animals only from shelters, humane societies, and registered rescue groups.
These types of laws are designed to minimize or ideally eliminate puppy mills and other untrustworthy sources that make a profit from inbreeding and mass producing pets. These laws are also put in place with the hopes of reducing overcrowding and euthanasia rates in shelters as well as the average wait time before an animal is adopted. The selling and subsequent transportation of pets over state and country borders has created hot spots for overcrowded shelters as well and is another business facet these laws hope to minimize or eliminate.
Though most believe this to be a helpful step towards eliminating puppy mills, some people believe it is a misguided step that puts a blanket target over a few reputable pet stores that take pride in their own rigorous and respectable buy and sell standards. It’s important to note both the Arizona City and Los Angeles ordinances only regulate pet stores. Neither of them actually dig deep to get at the source of the problem and increase individual regulation and eliminate puppy mills, though it will no doubt take a chunk out of their businesses.
Public education is a large part of the battle against buying and selling sick and mistreated animals. For individuals who are looking to expand their family with a furry addition, knowledge is power and each person has the ability to influence the business of animal neglect and misuse. Adopt, don’t shop.