Tag Archives: commercial breeding

Utah county bans pet store sales of commercially bred dogs, cats

Utah’s most populous county banned the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores, joining a growing number of cities around the country in a step designed to reduce the number of pets born in inhumane conditions.

Some of the nation’s largest pet companies already have moved away from such sales in favor of offering animals from shelters, and a vote this week added Salt Lake County to a list of nearly 90 municipalities that have passed measures targeting so-called puppy and kitten mills. And that number is growing, advocates say. 

“There are great pets that need a home. We don’t need to make more,” said Deann Shepherd, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Utah. 

But pet stores say the rule, which also includes rabbits, unfairly targets local shops with a good track record on animal welfare. 

“I don’t sell puppy-mill puppies,” Todd Poulsen, owner of Mark’s Ark Pet Store in Taylorsville, said Wednesday. “They want to close down their pet stores just in case we do.”

Pets from puppy and kitten mills are kept in crowded, unsanitary kennels and many don’t have adequate access to veterinary care, food or water, animal advocates say.

A shop called Puppies `N Love in Phoenix sued to challenge a similar ordinance passed in 2013, but a judge upheld it in July. U.S. District Judge David Campbell acknowledged that it will burden the business but said it was not the court’s place to judge the fairness of the city ban. 

The measure in Utah applies to unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County. Though Poulsen’s store is not affected by the ban, he’s worried about it starting a domino effect of similar ordinances.

Leaders in Salt Lake City will likely consider passing a similar measure before early December, City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall said. 

There are no stores in the city or unincorporated parts of the county that actually sell commercially bred pets _ even though they are two of the biggest population centers in the state, officials said.

Two of the biggest pet retailers in the country, PetSmart and Petco, already have moved to offering shelter dogs. 

Melanie Kahn, senior director of the anti-puppy mill campaign for the Humane Society of the United States, says that customers have heard about poor conditions at some commercial breeders, and they don’t want to risk getting a dog bred in inhumane conditions. 

Kahn says pet store bans are an effective way to combat puppy and kitten mills, but store owners say it’s not fair to claim all dogs or cats for sale are bred in poor conditions. 

A business that violates the ordinance could have its business license revoked, said Arlyn Bradshaw, the Salt Lake County councilman who proposed the rule. People who want a purebred dog or cat animal can still go to licensed breeders. 

Bradhaw said he’s aware of only a few pet stores in northern Utah that sell commercially bred animals. 

The council passed the measure on a 6-1 vote this week. Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton said she would have preferred educating people about the issue instead. 

Animal welfare groups urge USDA to improve standards of care for dogs at commercial breeding facilities

Animal welfare groups this week urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the standards of care for dogs kept in commercial breeding facilities.

The Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association filed a legal petition with the USDA, which regulates such facilities under the federal Animal Welfare Act, but current AWA regulations fall far short of ensuring the humane treatment of dogs. 

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS said in a news release, “It’s common sense that dogs should have water, space, exercise, and other basic care, and responsible dog breeders and pet industry groups should welcome these improved standards to restore consumer confidence and deal with the outliers who cut corners and treat puppies like products. The current standards are insufficient and outdated, and need to be fortified to crack down on abusive puppy mills.”

The requested changes would create more specific standards for veterinary care, housing, breeding practices, socialization and placement of retired breeding dogs.

“Dogs are not products that can be simply warehoused without appropriate regard for their welfare,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “The public overwhelmingly agrees that the current USDA standards for dogs kept in commercial breeding facilities do not amount to humane treatment for dogs. The USDA needs to recognize this, and step up to ensure these vulnerable animals have proper care to maintain their health and well-being.”

Among other things, the petition urges the USDA to adopt the following rules for licensed dog breeders:

Restrict the use of wire flooring in the dogs’ primary cage space. Wire flooring is routinely used in commercial breeding facilities, often in cages stacked on top of each other, and is highly detrimental to the dogs’ welfare;

Require breeders to provide dogs with access to an exercise space. Current regulations do not mandate even daily or weekly exercise, and many dogs are kept in their cages day in and day out, for years on end;

Require that dogs be physically examined by a veterinarian at least once per year, including a determination that breeding dogs are fit to endure pregnancy and nursing;

Restrict the frequency of breeding.  Currently there are no limits on how frequently dogs may be bred, and commercial breeders routinely breed female dogs at every heat, with no rest between litters, contrary to the recommendations of most breed clubs;

Require breeders to provide dogs with constant access to potable water;

Increase the minimum cage space requirements so that dogs have adequate space to move around freely and to stand on their hind legs without touching the top of the cage; and

Require breeders to make reasonable efforts to work with rescue groups to adopt out retired breeding dogs and “unsellable” puppies, rather than euthanizing or abandoning the dogs.

“This petition requests much needed enhancements to existing regulations concerning the treatment of dogs used and bred for commercial sale, including the physical conditions of the breeding facility and the health and welfare of the individual dogs,” stated Dr. Susan Krebsbach, veterinary advisor for HSVMA. “These new regulations would greatly improve the living space, physical health and psychological well-being of literally tens of thousands of dogs in the United States.”

The petition was prepared pro bono by the law firm Latham and Watkins LLP and by attorneys in the Animal Protection Litigation department at The HSUS and by the ASPCA.