In their zeal to feel warm-and-fuzzy on October 24, 2012, ten Los Angeles City Council members ignored the fact that only 11 privately owned pet shops--regularly inspected by Los Angeles Animal Services--sell puppies and/or kittens in the 469 square miles of Los Angeles and that California state laws strictly regulate every aspect of the care and sale of these pets and contain provisions including a "lemon law," and requirements to advise buyers regarding spay/neuter, licensing, and to post the source of the animal(s).
Instead, elected City officials bought into the euphoria that potentially closing down these small businesses would be a major step toward making Los Angeles “No Kill.” Councilman Paul Koretz describes his proposed law to ban the sale of commercially bred puppies, kittens and rabbits as intended to “shut down puppy and kitten mills and reduce the tens of thousands of euthanizations performed on unclaimed animals each year,” according to the Contra Costa Times.
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With the exception of Councilmen Mitch Englander and Bill Rosendahl, who opposed the measure, the Council seemed oblivious to the message it sends to present or potential business owners when a City already known as hostile to entrepreneurs routinely changes the rules on an emotional whim.
They also ignored the fact that those seeking purebred puppies/kittens will merely spend their money at pet stores outside the city limits or be driven to totally unregulated Internet brokers who sell almost exclusively puppy-mill puppies and are happy to take money from Los Angeles residents. Rather than addressing the enforcement issues of insuring buyers get healthy pets kept in humane conditions, the Council merely abdicated responsibility for protecting them.
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MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA PLANS TO CHANGE L.A. ZONING CODES
Does it surprise anyone that, even before the noble-sounding puppy-mill pet ban has passed in Los Angeles (needing a second vote next week,) Mayor Villaraigosa’s questionable political altruism has raised its ugly head in the form of a big favor to friends tucked quietly into an add-on, second part of the ordinance.
If the Mayor gets his way, if you own/operate any business in Los Angeles city, you may soon find that your next door neighbor is a new type of “pet shop” housing an unlimited number of adult dogs/cats/monkey or any other animals 24/7—even (or especially) in shopping malls, according to a report approved by the L.A. Animal Services Commission at the request of the Mayor's deputy Jim Bickhart (with only Commissioner Kathleen Riordan opposing).
This is because the new “puppy-mill” ban does not stop with just prohibiting the sale of animals bred by commercial breeders (“puppy mills”.) IT REQUIRES ALL PET SHOPS TO OBTAIN THEIR ANIMALS FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SHELTERS OR RESCUE GROUPS—emphasizing, of course, adult animals.
In order to allow these “pet store/kennels”in any/all commercial shopping location, the Mayor is planning to change the zoning codes for the entire city of Los Angeles.
This would apply to locations adjoining restaurants, retail stores, medical offices, lawyers, accountants or child-care centers, etc. It would remove the current requirement that a kennel permit be obtained from the Department of Building & Safety before more than 3 adult dogs/cats can be maintained in a commercial location, which is now required because of the obvious noise and health/sanitation issues.
HERE’S HOW IT WOULD BE DONE
According to a report by LA Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette dated October 19, 2012, and being pushed by Mayoral deputy Jim Bickhart, a change would be made to Sec. 53.00 of the L.A. Municipal code seeking to force the Department of Building and Safety to change the definition of a “pet shop” to allow it to apply to “any store, or department of any store, or any place of business where dogs, cats, monkeys, birds, reptiles, or any other animals are kept for sale, for hire, or sold irrespective of the age of the animals, provided that the facility is not used for commercial boarding or breeding at any time.” (L.A. Animal Services Commission Agenda, Oct. 23, Item 4E –Revised Report: Amendments to Sec. 53.00 (Definitions) of Los Angeles Municipal Code regarding the Definitions of “Kennels” and “Pet Shops,” Respectively.)
The other change would be to eliminate the need for a kennel permit to keep these adult animals 24/7 and to allow these stores to exist in any commercial location. (Under current law a kennel permit is not required for pet shops because they house/sell only young animals which can be easily contained in elevated locations and which do not cause the same noise and waste-management issues as adults.) http://www.laanimalservices.org/images/PDFs/commission/2012/102312-agd.pdf
Although the Mayor’s office is assuring us that maintaining unlimited adult animals inside stores will “minimize noise leakage,” most commercial stores do not have the drainage and sewage system to stop feces and urine “leakage,” nor the air-circulation systems to minimize the potential for the spread of diseases to other animals or zoonotic diseases which can spread to humans.
IS IT UNFAIR TO REQUIRE CONDITIONAL USE PERMITS?
Jim Bickhart, speaking for the Mayor, implies that it is unfair that kennel permits are allowed by-right only in industrial zones in Los Angeles and that anyone wanting to obtain one in a retail/commercial zone must obtain a CUP (Conditional Use Permit.) And, Bickhart laments, there is no guarantee a CUP will be granted. He even personally accompanied the representative of an organization with a long-time affiliation with the Mayor's office to testify before a Council committee that this should be changed.
The Mayor’s office seems unaware that there are valid health and safety reasons (including compliance with County health laws) that protect business owners and residents of this city by prohibiting a noisy and odorous animal kennel next door to a commercial business or a private home?
Is it a surprise to the Mayor that ALL who wish to establish a business in the wrong zoning must apply for a Conditional Use Permit and--just as importantly--that it is not supposed to be “easy” or “guaranteed” to bend the rules? Apparently so!