San Diego Pet Shop Sues City and Animal Activists Over Ban on Puppy Sales


A formal complaint has been filed in federal court on Nov. 25 by the owners of San Diego Puppy, Inc., a retail pet shop located in the city of San Diego. The suit attacks the citywide ban on the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores, which was passed on July 10, 2013.

The lawsuit was filed by David and Veronica Salinas, the owners of the pet store, against the City of San Diego, the San Diego Humane Society, the San Diego Animal Defense Team, the Animal Protection and Rescue League, and the league's lawyer, Bryan Pease, for their “unified effort” in passing the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance, which prevents commercial pet sales in pet shops in the city.

The ordinance was aimed at closing “puppy mills” (none of which is in the city of San Diego) and claims that commercial breeders, often located in the Midwest, have been found to ignore health requirements and humane standards.

However, the Salinas' complaint contends that there are already laws in place to protect against neglect and mistreatment by breeders. Adding to that, Salinas states in the document that all dogs sold at San Diego Puppy, Inc., come with a certificate of health.

According to the San Diego Puppy complaint, the business was irreparably harmed by the ordinance. It is the only retail “pet store in the city that is/was selling purebred and other high-quality puppies that are not purported to be from a rescue or shelter retail facility.”

It also rejects the claim made by proponents of the bill that San Diego Puppy buys, and later sells, dogs from auctions or imports them from other countries, according to the Reader. To the contrary, they claim to deal directly with licensed breeders who are subject to governmental regulations, the complaint states.

Attorneys for Veronica and David Salinas say the ordinance was the result of a unified assault by “activist organizations, coupled with the pre-existing antipathy on the part of certain City councilmembers.”

Among the activist organizations listed is the San Diego Humane Society, which, according to the complaint, raises more than one hundred million dollars under the “guise of helping homeless pets,” then uses that money to push for legislation such as the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance, the Reader states.

The complaint also contends that the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) targeted two members of the San Diego City Council, Lorie Zapf and Marti Emerald, knowing that these Councilmembers had “anitpathy” toward animals, and their antipathy caused them to pursue adopting an ordinance.

Salinas’ complaint says that Councilwoman Emerald is quoted in the news, stating erroneously and inappropriately that “unsuspecting consumers here in San Diego and in other places also pay the price” of purchasing offspring of unhealthy, inbred dogs from substandard breeding facilities, dubbed “puppy mills” by activists.

The suit contends Councilwoman Emerald also stated without any basis in fact as applied to San Diego Puppy that, “[consumers] are coming in, they’re paying top dollar for these animals.Then they get the dogs home and they get sick, and the vet bills start rolling in.”

The complaint points out that “she cited no authority, facts or statistics for her incorrect assertions.”

Victoria and David Salinas state that, by filing the lawsuit, they hope to rescind the ordinance and at the same time keep longtime animal-rights activists such as Attorney Bryan Pease from “annoying, harassing, trespassing, threatening or otherwise violating the peaceful operation of the business owned by Plaintiff David Salinas, and from threatening, harassing or annoying any employee or officer of such businesses.”

Source: San Diego Reader, (2)


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