Burbank moved one step closer to banning retail pet sales this week, following in the footsteps of Glendale, West Hollywood and other cities that have taken similar hard lines against puppy and kitten mills.
After City Council members on Tuesday voted 3-2 to draft an ordinance banning retail pet sales, they voted unanimously to impose stricter regulations on commercial animal breeders. The moves could essentially prevent them from selling to retail stores in Burbank.
Animal welfare groups contend that animals from puppy and kitten mills or large-scale breeding operations suffer in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, often are inbred and often end up ill.
The Burbank ordinance, which must come back to the council for final approval, would ban retail pet sales unless the animal is obtained from a registered nonprofit animal rescue, adoption or shelter.
But the ban likely will affect only new retail shops — existing pet stores will be granted some sort of immunity, though the exact terms have yet to be hammered out.
Councilmen David Gordon and Gary Bric voted against the proposal just before midnight after nearly four hours of discussion and public comment on the issue.
“The details have to be worked out, but the intent is that puppies and cats don't come from factory-like breeding operations,” said Mayor Dave Golonski.
City officials have identified just one shop — Peggy Wood's Pet Emporium — that currently sells commercially bred pets.
Store owner Ira Lippman insisted on Tuesday that the regulations were unnecessary.
“We do our best to make sure [the animals] come from sound, healthy kennels,” Lippman said on Wednesday. “We'll continue, and even do better, to make sure we don't have any issues with the puppies we carry.”
But dozens of animal advocates packed City Hall armed with photos of ailing mill-bred dogs as they urged the City Council to move forward with the ban.
Shelley Rizzotti, founding member of Citizens for Rescue Only Pet Stores, presented more than 500 signatures from Burbank residents who support her cause.
“I can guarantee there's a tsunami of unwanted and unloved animals in the shelters,” said Burbank resident Jen Tate. “We don't need to make any more.”
Since 2007, the Burbank Animal Shelter has received 28 complaints regarding conditions of animals in pet shops, according to city officials.
Although adamantly against puppy mills, Bric said grandfathering existing pet stores would give Peggy Wood's Pet Emporium a monopoly over pet sales. And Gordon felt an all-out ban was draconian, arguing that “demonizing” one small Burbank business wouldn't solve the puppy-mill issue.
Glendale's ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats went into effect in August. Other Southland cities with similar bans include Huntington Beach, Hermosa Beach and West Hollywood.
As for the stricter regulations on commercial animal breeders, there are just 12 licensed operations in Burbank, but none are currently active, according to the city.
“I feel bad that in the future, the citizens of Burbank won't have a choice of where to get their puppies, other than us, for the time being,” Lippman said.