San Diego became the latest municipality to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores when the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday.
The Southern California city is the 32nd U.S. city to enact such a ban, joining Los Angeles, which approved a similar measure.
Starting Aug. 9, dogs, cats and rabbits sold in San Diego pet stores must come from one of the city’s municipal animal shelters, humane societies or rescue organizations. Violators could be fined up to $1,000.
The effect will be limited because only two stores—Pet Market and San Diego Puppy—sell the banned animals, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The Washington, D.C.-based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council opposed the legislation and "offered to work with the council to help raise the bar to ensure that only good breeders would supply pets,” said Charlie Sewell, PIJAC’s executive vice president of external affairs.
"The council showed no interest in helping weed out substandard breeders,” Sewell said.
When the law goes into effect, pet stores will be required to possess certificates identifying where their animals are sourced.
Animal welfare groups were ecstatic about the ordinance’s passage.
"This ban targets puppy mills and other large-scale commercial breeders,” said Gary Weitzman, DVM, the president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA. "This ban does not target or impact responsible hobby breeders.”
San Diego Puppy responded with disappointment.
"Unfortunately it seems that politics got involved, and it’s sad to see that the City Council was heavily influenced by animal rights extremist[s],” the company stated on its website.
"To … our loyal customers, friends and family, we … will fight this tooth and nail.”
Pet Market owner Bobby Hicks called the ordinance "institutionalized prejudice against pet stores.”
The store, Hicks reported in a statement filed with the City Council, routinely finds homes for abandoned animals.
"If you pass this ordinance the way it reads, my store will be prohibited from taking in any neighborhood unwanted kittens and rabbits and providing them quality care,” Hicks stated. "There is nothing about this that any lawmaker could be proud of.”
Dr. Weitzman credited several animal welfare organizations with pushing for the ordinance, saying the groups "chose to work together for the common good of animals in our community.”
PIJAC and its members must work just as hard, Sewell said.
"What the San Diego decision demonstrates is the need for the [pet] industry to unite to address these legislative threats in a much more comprehensive manner,” he said.