The City Council this week set the stage for an all-out ban on the retail sale of dogs and cats, mirroring similar initiatives in the cities of West Hollywood, Hermosa Beach and South Lake Tahoe.
It is unclear whether the Glendale ordinance would affect any current businesses since many pet shops say they transitioned long ago from selling dogs and cats to adopting them out in conjunction with shelters.
“Nowadays you either switch over or you get such a bad rep,” said Pedro Meraz, an employee at Anderson’s Pet Shop in Montrose, which stopped selling dogs and cats more than a decade ago. “There are so many animals that need to be adopted.”
Prohibiting the retail sale of household pets has in recent years gained steam as animal rights activists draw attention to so-called puppy mills and kitty factories — farms where dogs and cats are mass-bred with little consideration of health or comfort.
A number of federal and state laws are designed to regulate the breeding of domestic animals, and to safeguard against cruel practices, said City Atty. Scott Howard. But some cannot be effectively enforced, and others have significant loopholes.
And it is impossible for any city to independently verify that each dog and cat sold at local businesses comes from legitimate breeders, Howard said, hence the emergence of the blanket ban.
“It is a huge enforcement issue,” Howard said. “We would not know, for example, if a breeder from Kansas is a breeder that follows animal welfare procedure.”
A ban could also serve to reduce the number of animals on city streets, he added.
“It would also encourage the adoption of animals from shelters, which would limit the number of animals that have to be euthanized at shelters and hopefully begin to address the overpopulation of animals that are kept in those shelters,” Howard said.
Any ordinance would include a clause that would allow retailers that currently sell dogs and cats a “reasonable period of time” before they have to comply with the law, probably three to five years, Howard said.
The ordinance must still be drafted and come back in coming months for a vote.
The discussion drew a dozen animal rights activists and at least one pet store owner to City Hall, where they described a potential ban on retail pet sales as “good public policy” and urged council members to push it through.
Rene Karapedian, owner of Pet Rush in Kenneth Village, told the council he stopped selling puppies a year ago. Since then, he has facilitated the adoption of about 150 dogs from shelters with high kill rates. His is proof that a pet shop can flourish without peddling dogs and cats, Karapedian said.
“I have had many people from the community coming into my business where before they would not even step foot in my business, mainly because I was selling puppies,” Karapedian said. “They were right. They were from puppy mills.”
People who buy animals from retail stores are often unaware that they are getting a sick product, the result of poor breeding conditions, said Elizabeth Oreck, a national campaign manager with Best Friends Animal Society.
Many end up in already overcrowded shelters, she said, and it makes no sense to manufacture pets when so many are being put down.
“Puppy mills are an enormous problem in this country,” Oreck said. “These mills, which supply nearly 100% of U.S. pet stores, are cruel and inhumane factories in which profit and maximum productivity take priority over the welfare of the animals.”
Councilman Rafi Manoukian said he worried an ordinance would hurt Glendale businesses, but said he was satisfied that there were viable alternatives.
“I think I would support this. I think it is a good step to take,” Manoukian said. “I think businesses should do it voluntarily … but if it takes an ordinance to do it, I am willing to support it.”