A new ordinance went into effect last week in San Diego, Calif., making it illegal to sell or offer for sale any commercially-bred puppy, kitten or bunny, whether they are from a Midwest puppy mill or a local breeder.
Specifically, the ordinance makes it unlawful for pet shops and other retail businesses to display, sell or even give away live dogs, cats or rabbits — unless the animals are obtained from an animal shelter, an animal-control agency, a humane society or a nonprofit rescue organization, according to the International Business Times.
San Diego has only one store that sells puppies, San Diego Puppy, Inc., owned by David Salinas, who contends that the ordinance is unconstitutional.
San Diego County Animal Control, which provides animal services for the city, received complaints from activists that San Diego Puppy was still selling pups in violation of the new law and responded to investigate the allegations. Indeed, they did find puppies in the store.
Salinas calls the pet-shop ban a consumer-rights violation. “We’re not Communist Russia,” he said. “Americans should have a right to choose where they can shop.”
“This has got to stop," Salinas added. “This movement of accusing every single breeder having pet stores as puppy mills is absolutely ridiculous.”
He says he’s being defiant because the ordinance is unconstitutional. He told the officers who came to his store that he has never received any notice or letter about the ordinance, and he has now submitted a letter to the city attorney laying out his case.
Although Animal Control issued a citation, so far, Mr. Salinas is still in business. He vows to take his case to state and even federal court if local law enforcement takes action to close down his business. He says after making his case he was left alone, with no legal citation — yet.
PET SHOP BANS IN 32 U.S. CITIES
The San Diego ordinance is part of a nationwide effort by a nonprofit organization called Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), which takes credit for fast-tracking local bans in the modern movement to put puppy mills out of business. The nonprofit group, founded in 1992, exists solely to investigate pet shops and the dog-breeding industry, states its founder and president, Deborah Howard.
According to supporters, San Diego is now the second-largest city in the country to ban the retail sale of commercially bred pets and it has all been within the past three years. CAPS claims this is evidence of public support for closing down puppy mills — high-volume commercial dog breeders, mostly located in the Midwest, where dogs are kept in crowded, often unsanitary cages for their entire lives and are merely machines for pumping out as many litters as possible. Both the parents and the offspring are often defective because of inbreeding, claim activists, and are frequently in poor health because of the inhumane environment in which they are kept.
Animal-rights groups say such facilities, which can move more than 2,000 dogs per week, supply most pet shop puppies.
As for San Diego Puppy’s distributor, the Hunte Corporation, David Saliinas says labeling it a puppy mill is a lie.
“They’re a Christian-based company,” he stated. “I know how they work, I know how they operate, and they do a fantastic job.”
THE HUNTE CORPORATION
According to SourceWatch, the Hunte Corporation is a commercial puppy broker located in Goodman, Mo., and is the largest puppy dealer in the world, with sales in the United States, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain and Japan.
The corporation buys and sells 90,000 puppies each year, reports a November 2007 article in Tulsa Wolrd. According to the report, the Hunte Corporation buys purebred puppies for markets in 30 states that include Ohio, Illinois and Florida, according to the report.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources investigated a complaint about a Hunte kennel facility in 2003 and discovered “trenches of dead canines” on the premises.
“The kennel was close to violating the state’s dead animal disposal laws, which allow no more than 1,000 pounds of dead animals to be buried per acre,” said department spokesperson Mark Rader.
In March 2009, Humane Society members and other consumers filed a class action lawsuit against Petland and the Hunte Corporation for conspiring to sell unhealthy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers in 20 states. However, the lawsuit was dismissed in a Phoenix court.
“BUSINESS AS USUAL” AT SAN DIEGO PUPPY
The video clip below was taken by Salinas on Sept. 4, when animal control and police officers came to San Diego Puppy to cite the manager. Salinas has said he believes animal rights groups — who are lined up in protest on the street in front of his business — will not be happy until all dog breeding is banned.
In the meantime, he told NBC, it’ll be “business as usual.”