Council seeks to phase out pet sales

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of pets without putting the city's only two pet stores out of business.

The council initially voted in March to bring forward an ordinance that would ban the sale and resale of pets in the city.

However, when it came time to vote on the ordinance Monday, the council scrapped the initial proposal after Councilman Joe Shaw, who said he wants to be able to support banning the sale of animals without putting pet stores out of business, proposed a middle-ground solution.

Under the new ordinance, the city would work with animal groups and the two pet stores to transition into a new model of rescuing animals within two years. The idea is to move away from selling animals that come from puppy mills, but it's not clear how it will work at this time.

The new ordinance would also ban any new animal stores from operating in the city.

Pet store owners say they do not sell animals from puppy mills, despite allegations by some city officials that they do.

Huntington Beach has two pet stores: Animal Kingdom and Pets Pets Pets.

Don Foster, co-owner of Pets Pets Pets, said he thinks the city is moving in the right direction.

"Because there are so many people who equate pet shops with puppy mills, it's easier to just eliminate the sale of pure-bred puppies rather than fight the tide of misinformation," Foster said.

Many people spoke at the meeting for and against the retail sale of cats and dogs. The solution seemed to please both sides.

Drafting the ordinance was approved with a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Don Hansen and Councilmen Devin Dwyer and Matthew Harper opposed.

Harper said changing the hearts and minds of people who acquire pets from stores is a cultural transition, but banning the sale of live pets outright would not accomplish that goal.

He said what Huntington Beach is doing is a perfect example of social engineering, something he could not support.

Councilman Joe Carchio asked his colleagues in March to support banning the sale or resale of dogs and cats in the city to keep up with its reputation of being animal-friendly. The city has a dog beach and dog parks.

A short video about the conditions dogs are subjected to in puppy mills was shown during that meeting. The mills also contribute to thousands of abandoned dogs, which are in turn euthanized because they can't find a home, according to the video.

More than 15,000 dogs and cats were put to sleep in Orange County last year, Councilman Keith Bohr has said.

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