The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance Wednesday that would ban pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless the animals came from nonprofit rescue organizations or city animal shelters.
The law is designed to target puppy mills, long the bane of animal rights groups, and to cut down on the tens of thousands of animals euthanized each year in city shelters.
First-time violators would face misdemeanor charges and a possible penalty of $250. Other cities, including Irvine, Hermosa Beach and Austin, Texas, have passed similar measures in recent years.
The Los Angeles ordinance would affect an estimated two dozen pet shops that sell dogs or cats in the city. Brenda Barnette, who heads the Department of Animal Services, said in a report to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa earlier this year that most of the existing stores obtain animals from commercial breeders.If the law is passed, individuals would still be allowed to buy directly from breeders, and pet stores would be allowed to sell animals that come from shelters, humane societies and registered rescue groups.
The ordinance would expire after three years, which would give city officials an opportunity to study the law and decide whether to extend it.
The proposal has been championed by Councilman Paul Koretz, who previously served on the West Hollywood City Council. West Hollywood, which a decade ago became the first city in the country to outlaw cat declawing, approved a ban on most sales of cats and dogs in stores in 2010, even though no stores there sold animals at the time.