Late last month, the California state assembly passed a bill that would force pet shops to only sell dogs, cats and rabbits that come from shelters or nonprofit rescue organizations. The bill, AB 485, would endanger the business of puppy/kitten mills and commercial breeders, both of which have been accused of putting animals in horrific conditions. Pet shops would be at risk as well, since many of them obtain their animals primarily from commercial breeders.
You’d be hard pressed to find any sympathy from supporters of AB 485, which was also created to increase opportunities for adoption of homeless pets and dissuade aspiring owners from buying animals from shops. Due to their rumored connection with mills and commercial breeders, pet shops are said to provide inadequate care for their animals as well.
A recent report from NBC San Diego appears to confirm this perception.
Two pet stores in Escondido and National City are currently facing allegations of inhumane conditions effecting dozens of puppies and kittens. One store, National City Puppy, was found to be cramping 20 to 30 puppies together in small cages.
"20 puppies were being treated for minor to moderate medical conditions. And six of that were told to me by staff, that were in critical condition. I’m a little concerned. Some of the large breed puppies...there were about three to four to a cage,�? National City Animal Control Officer, Jane Gordon revealed during a 2016 National City Council meeting.
Gordon then explained that dogs sold at pet stores usually come from mass breeding operations in the Midwest. The dogs go from a breeder to a kennel and then to a broker before the store.
"Reputable breeders never, ever sell to a pet store," animal rights activist Andrea Cunningham told NBC San Diego. "They won't sell to someone sight unseen. They want to meet you and for you to meet them and see where the dog will be raised."
It’s for this reason, Cunningham said, that several cities in San Diego have passed measures banning pet stores. NBC San Diego contacted David Salinas, who owns the two accused pet shops, for more information on where the animals are bred.
Salinas, however, refused to give any specific answers.
"Not for this interview but we can certainly for our customers who come into the store," he said.
Salinas then claimed that both stores openly display breeder information for each puppy but when NBC San Diego visited one of the stores, there was no such information in sight.
"I'm sure you just got us at a time where the puppies were just being put in or being moved around," Salinas insisted.
Numerous California cities have already passed their own ordinances similar to AB 485. One of them is Carlsbad, the home of former pet store Carlsbad Pets. It was at this store where Rio Quinn and her husband purchased their now-deceased puppy, Scooter, for over $3,000.
"He was coughing, it was horrible, absolutely horrible," Quinn said. "I couldn't just leave him there. So we went in and bought him.�?
Just a few weeks after the purchase, Scooter was hospitalized for kennel cough, pneumonia and viral disease distemper. The puppy was eventually euthanized after his lungs were deemed unsalvageable. Carlsbad Pets had marketed Scooter as a puppy from a home-based breeder but Cunningham told NBC San Diego that Scooter had really come from a Midwestern puppy mill with over 300 dogs on site.
Shortly after Scooter’s death, Quinn sued Carlsbad Pets for compensation and won. The store is yet to pay her the complete refund, which isn’t much of a surprise considering Carlsbad Pets was forced to close after the city passed the aforementioned ordinance.