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Segment | Government

L.A. Says No 'Puppy Mills,' But Not All Pet Stores Are Rolling Over

Creating life for profit -- animal breeders do it every day. Most do it responsibly. Some don't. And that's when bad things happen. Take those puppies, for example, in the pet store window. A great many of them entered this world under terrible conditions, and some won't live very long. Los Angeles is taking action. Soon you won't be able to buy "breeder" puppies in L.A. pet stores. It's a drastic shift, and not everyone is happy about it. Jennifer London brings us both sides.

TRANSCRIPT:
Jennifer London/Correspondent: An old fashioned, romantic idea that has not only fallen out of fashion -- buying a puppy at a pet store -- but one that will soon be illegal in the city of Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Oreck/Best Friends Animal Society: We know that it’s certainly a risk when someone walks into a pet store and purchases an animal. Because of the way they are bred, we know that they are very often sick.

London: Elizabeth Oreck is the national manager for the Puppy Mill Initiatives with Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends runs a no-kill shelter in Mission Hills.

Oreck says people should get their dogs and cats from an animal shelter or a rescue instead of pet stores, where most often the animals come from large-scale commercial breeders.

Oreck: We continue to flood the market with puppies and with kittens when we don’t have enough homes for the ones that we have, and so we’re having to kill so many healthy, adoptable animals.

London: The L.A. City Council agreed and recently passed an ordinance to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from commercial breeders in pet stores.

Oreck: Those are the animals that are dying in the highest numbers in our shelters. And at the same time allowing for pet stores to adopt out rescued animals from shelters in their stores.

London: L.A. now joins a growing number of cities that have enacted similar bans. Albuquerque, New Mexico was the first in 2006, but L.A. is now the largest city to take action. The ordinance passed late last year, but pet stores have until June to phase out the sale of their rabbits, kittens and puppies.

This is Lucy [pictured in video]. Lucy’s in the cage. And this is Eric. Eric is very affectionate. He’s an 8-week-old terrier puppy who recently came to the shelter. And Eric and Lucy are the reason for the new ban, according to animal shelters and the city council.

When the ban is enforced after the grace period, it means that pet stores will sell a puppy like Eric or a puppy like Lucy, instead of getting their puppies from a commercial breeder. L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who introduced the ban, says most often commercial breeders are nothing more than puppy mills.

Paul Koretz/City Councilmember: Puppy mills and kitten mills breed their animals in terrible conditions and very cruel conditions. Those animals often wind up with medical problems once they are born because of inbreeding and other problems.

London: Problems Koretz knows from firsthand experience. The puppy he bought from a pet store years ago ended up getting sick.

Koretz [looking at photos]: This is my daughter when she was about a year and a half old and my dog Miley, who was a bichon frise that came from a pet store in West Hollywood.

London: That was going to be my question, where you got Miley.

Koretz: And it turned out to be a puppy mill dog, but we didn’t know anything about it at the time.

London: After surgery Miley went on to a live a long, healthy life. But tens of thousands of dogs in L.A. aren’t so lucky.

Oreck: Because of the way these puppies are manufactured in these facilities, they’re in-bred, they’re over-bred, they’re irresponsibly bred. Most of the animals that come out of these facilities are sick. And so for the consumers, this results in the purchase of an animal that could incur a lot of veterinary expenses, and not everyone is equipped to handle that. And so a lot of these animals end up in our already over-crowded shelters.

London: Shelters that are splitting at the seams. In 2011, at L.A. city shelters, 22,504 cats were brought in. More than 13,000 had to be euthanized. Thirty-five thousand-plus dogs were brought in. More than 9,400 were euthanized. And those numbers don’t include humane societies, or rescue groups.

Oreck: All of this puppy mill pervasiveness is our problem, because all of us are subsidizing the housing and euthanizing of all of these animals. So it really begs the question, why do we continue to manufacture a product -- and in this case we are talking about a living, breathing, sentient creature -- for a market that’s already so overcrowded that we have to kill the surplus?

London: Do you know the answer to that question?

Oreck: It’s profit. It's profit motivation. I mean, that is why breeders are breeding, because there’s a demand.

London: Which brings us back to that doggy in the window. The ASPCA says 99 percent of puppies sold in stores come from puppy mills.

This pet store in Sherman Oaks says that they are the 1 percent and the new law targets them unfairly. Evelyn Mazor’s family runs Puppy and Me Pet Store. They sell small to medium pure-bred and designer dogs.

London: Evelyn, why do you think this new law infringes on your rights at a business owner and the rights of a potential customer?

Mazor: Firstly, this country is founded on choice. People have always been allowed to do what they choose. That’s a basic human right. And what this law does, it takes away the human right to choose where to get their dogs from.

London: Evelyn, where do you get most of your dogs?

Mazor: We get them from different breeders out of state, mainly in the Mid-West.

London: And are those breeders puppy mill breeders?

Mazor: Depends who you ask. If you ask the activists, then yes, we do get them. But if you ask us, who actually know where the dogs come from, then no, they absolutely do not. We carry puppies from reputable breeders who care about the dogs they sell.

London: Not true, says the protestors, who have been marching and yelling outside Puppy and Me for the past five years, claiming its puppies do come from puppy mills.

London: Would a reputable breeder sell their puppies to a pet store?

Oreck: Absolutely not. Responsible breeders do not sell to pet stores because they don’t sell to third parties.

London: Mazor stands by her puppies and says they have no intention of complying with the ordinance.

Mazor: We will continue to sell puppies from our reputable breeders. People will still be allowed to go to shelters and rescues if they do so choose, but they will also be able to come here. We will not just fold away.

London: You’ll be breaking the law.

Mazor: But what the city council is doing is breaking the law. They are breaking the law on our constitutional right to own a business. They are breaking the law to dictate to people where to go, what to buy and how to buy it.

London: Are you willing to go out of business rather than comply with this new law?

Mazor: I think if we start selling dogs from rescues and shelters, we will go out of business.

London: Rene Karapedian runs pet stores in Burbank and Glendale. He used to sell dogs from commercial breeders even when he knew the puppies were sick.

Rene Karapedian/Pet Rush Pet Store: And this was a $1,000 profit for me. Guess what? I would sell them, but yet still, this is a dog that was not fit to be sold.

London: Karapedian has since switched over to what he calls the "humane model" -- animal adoption instead of animal sales.

Karapedian: Well, number one, most of these shelters that I go pick up dogs from, they are putting down anywhere from 50 to 70 dogs a day. So this is one way to stop that from happening.

London: He says business has never been better.

Karapedian: We now adopt out over 300 dogs a year compared to the 100 we would sell.

London: Proof Karapedian says that pet stores can stop selling puppies from puppy mills and still make money.

Karapedian: The money comes from the services, the products that goes with these rescue dogs, and the return customers that come back because they want to support where they got their young dog or adult dog from.

London: Do you have any problems with local government saying what you can or cannot sell? Do you think that’s overreaching?

Karapedian: Well, the good thing about local government is that it's governed by the local people. It's the people that tell the local government what they want in their city. Without it, they will not pass anything.

London: Elizabeth Oreck says the ban is a great first step, and the hope is more cities around the country will take similar action. But until that happens, she says, people can do their part to help put puppy mills out of business.

Oreck: If people really knew where these cute pet store puppies in the window were coming from, I think they would really think twice about supporting that industry through their consumer choices.

LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

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The major flaw in Ms. Mazor's argument is that human rights end when animal abuse begins. Thanks to this new law, Angelenos won't have the choice to support abuse by buying puppies from a retail establishment. Puppy and Me is not part of the 1 percent that buys from "repewtable" breeders as she puts it. They order their dogs online from brokers and directly from the mills. There is documented evidence, including video footage, from Best Friends Animal Society confirming that Puppy & Me purchases their dogs from inhumane puppy mills in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, etc. One of their suppliers was even part of "Missouri's Dirty Dozen" (named by the Humane Society of the U.S. as the 12 worst puppy mills in the Midwest). Puppy & Me said they stopped using that breeder "once they found out." Enough said.

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A nice piece, both sides having equal time to sate their case. Best Friends had time to get across valuable info...and The puppy store had ample time to hang themselves.

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Are you all aware that L.A. has a "lemon law" that applies to puppies bought at a pet store? Are you aware that pet stores are strictly regulated, and that the vast majority of them sell healthy, wonderful pets? Did you ever wonder how long they would stay in business if they sold unhealthy, poorly raised puppies?

Now answer this? Are you aware that when you buy a dog at a shelter, NONE of the above applies? You will know nothing about your prospective pet's background, no idea what breed it is, how big it will get or what kind of temperament it will have, or what potential health issues.

And finally, if pet stores are permitted to sell shelter dogs, do those dogs suddenly become miraculously healthy and well-bred, as if by magic?

If your pet store puppy doesn't work out, the lemon law requires them to replace your puppy or refund your money.

If your shelter dog doesn't work out, which - given the two options - is the more likely, you have no recourse and no legal protection. Oh wait, you can return it to the shelter and start the whole process all over again.

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Are you aware that we've spoken to several customers who purchased dogs from Puppy & Me that were sick? (including one that died a week later). The store refunded the money for the dog that died, but no compensation for the medical bills or heartache. Another customer purchased a puppy that was sick and stopped payment on his credit card since he tried to return the dog to no avail (no "lemon law" to protect him). Puppy & Me's owner Andrew Mazor (a convicted felon for medicare fraud from his previous business) took the customer to small claims court and he was forced to pay him. This was after the customer surrendered his sick puppy to the shelter. Are you aware that we have a long list of unsatisfied, heartbroken Puppy & Me customers (and their children) who purchased sick dogs and spent thousands at the vet? Are you aware that the vet across the street from Puppy & Me stopped treating Puppy & Me's puppies? He didn't want to sign off on sick puppies, put down puppies with parvo and aid and abate a puppy mill front. Are you aware that the understaffed USDA regulates licensed puppy mills, the same entity that regulates slaughter houses? Are you aware that we have documentation showing Puppy & Me breeders (both past and present) with countless USDA violations? (And as horrendous as some of them are, it will take a lot more for the USDA to shut them down...although several of their "breeders" were already raided and shut down). Are you aware that when the demand stops by banning pet stores from selling puppy mill dogs, the supply will have no choice but to stop? That the public will become more aware of the dark secret behind the cute puppies at the pet store, which will only serve to put a dent in internet sales of puppy mill dogs, as well? And we'll get to the point when there are no more inhumane, breeding factories where profit is the bottom line, rather than healthy dogs? When this happens, which it will, you watch...we will have way fewer and healthier dogs at the shelter and we'll save millions on tax dollars. Pretty simple. Sensible, compassionate people are aware of this, sorry you're not. And lastly, are you aware that no decent, compassionate breeder would ever be on a forum defending puppy mills? You have to be one of those other kinds of breeders, a pet store owner, profiteer of the pet trade or a rep from PIJAC, the evil pet store/puppy mill lobby. Which one is it?

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Not a breeder. Not a pet store owner. Not a profiteer of the pet trade. Just a dog owner who has spent years trying to get people to take their blinders off. This is ONE store you're talking about. So fine, let the law shut it down. That does not mean that every pet store buys from puppy mills (by the way, there is no legal definition of puppy mill. I've heard it applied to anyone who breeds dogs). Why should all pet stores have to suffer for the behavior of one? And all the examples you cite of people getting sick dogs, I can give you an equal number of those that love their pet store pup. And as I said, you're talking about ONE place of business.

How about reciting the numbers of dogs bought from shelters that are sick? Does the shelter pay THEIR vet bills? There IS a lemon law in L.A. How well it's enforced may be another question, but if there's a problem with that, fix it.

Surrendered his sick puppy to the shelter? How irresponsible is that? Let the shelter take care of his problems.

If the USDA regulates commercial dog breeders and finds those that are breaking the law, it's their job to have them charged with crimes, not yours, and not the pet store's. And you just said it - commercial breeders ARE regulated. If this one pet store is stupid enough to buy from a disreputable one, then let the police and the courts do their job, but that's no reason to go after all pet stores. If you buy a dog from a shelter, there are no protections, no rules. And try getting THEM to pay your vet bills.

Why would you assume I'm "one of them" just because I defend people's rights and because I think a pet store puppy is a better option than a shelter dog? Why do you go right for the knee jerk emotional rant, instead of thinking with your brain? I suppose you think HSUS helps animals too. Now there's a company you should go after if you're really concerned about pets in this country.

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The fact that you are a dog owner makes you all the more reprehensible. USDA is way understaffed and can't monitor all of their licensed puppy mills where breeding dogs are stacked in cages and bred every heat cycle. Aside from the fact that these "breeders" can have many horrendous violations before actually being shut down. Responsible, humane breeders don't sell to pet stores. They are in it for the love of the breed. Dogs aren't BOUGHT at shelters, they are adopted for around $100 and from rescues for around $100 to $300 or one can purchase a dog from a responsible breeder that they visit in person; a breeder that allows their breeding dogs to live inside and doesn't breed them every heat cycle. Dogs that are loved, get exercise and feel grass, not confined to cages until they are no longer "useful" in excruciating heat and bitter cold with just a tarp covering them. There is never a need to pay over $1,000 for a puppy mill dog that is likely sick. There will never be a shortage of dogs from responsible breeders. Only pet stores and greedy, heartless people that sell online need puppy mills for their "inventory." Again, as the puppy mills shut down, there will be fewer and healthier dogs at the shelters. And once again, human RIGHTS end at animal abuse. Sorry you can't grasp this very simple concept. You must have blinders on if you have faith in this so-called lemon law or think that Puppy & Me is the only store selling puppy mill dogs in Los Angeles. I used them as an example because they were interviewed for the news story. All the pet stores in Los Angeles that sell commercially bred dogs get them from puppy mills. Many were already forced to shut down because of people finding out the truth and documented footage of their suppliers: Barkworks (Westside Pavillion), Posh Puppy, Pet Love, Petworld, Pets of Bel Air, etc. etc. Now the rest will be forced to stop selling commercially bred dogs because of a very sensible and HUMANE law. As far as HSUS, I can guarantee that they along with other animal welfare organizations like Best Friends, PETA, LCA, etc. do more for animals by getting animal cruelty legislation on ballots, supplying dog houses for dogs chained up in the cold and heat, ending unnecessary lab testing, busting puppy mills, etc. etc. Way more than little old you who gets on a forum defending pet stores and puppy mills. Do some research instead of talking out your wazoo...and after you do, and still don't find a problem with pet stores/puppy mills...perhaps some therapy for sociopathy is in order.

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First of all, an exchange of money is a purchase. You can call it adoption if you wish, but it's still a sale. Second, the name of the "lemon law" is the Lockyer-Polanco Act. Try looking it up. Third, HSUS spends less that one percent of the money it brings in on helping animals. Look it up. Try citing substantiated facts instead of anecdotal emotionalism.

I am on the board of the California Federation of Dog Clubs, one of the oldest state federations in the country, which has been fighting for the humane treatment of dogs and defending the rights of their owners for over 20 years. The following is an article written by a fellow board member. I could not say it better.

As if the intent to sell well-bred, healthy animals as a profitable business is something to be ashamed of! In any event, California’s Lockyer-Polanco act provides consumer protection for pets purchased in pet stores. This law provides no consumer protection for animals that come from shelters or rescues.

Further, the premise includes a false supposition that animal rescue shops do not rely on commercial breeders as a source for dogs or cats. In fact, it is impossible to know for sure exactly WHERE the animals in most shelters or rescues originated. These animals often come from unregulated sources such as casual home breeders, from unregulated foreign puppy mills or from groups who rescue “street strays” from outside the continental US, and a few may even originate in commercial breeding establishments. Rescue groups often obtain animals from “raids” of commercial breeding establishments so yes, they do rely on commercial breeders as a source for dogs or cats. A sales ban would only hurt legitimate businesses and responsible, regulated breeders, not substandard facilities.

Sales bans create a shortage of desirable pets, a black market for dogs and cats, and a rise in imports from other countries. And, replacing pets from licensed breeders with unregulated “rescue” animals is very unwise. Many “rescue” groups are already importing dogs from overseas to meet the demand for pets. This is happening right now in southern California! A rescue group in LA imports dogs and sells them for hundreds of dollars each. Per the “Dogs Without Borders” website: “We currently rescue most dogs from local shelters and strays, but sometimes we rescue dogs from as far away as Taiwan!....Some of the dogs you see on our site are not here in the States.”

This practice is not only outrageous, but also is very irresponsible on the part of the shelters/rescues that participate. There are diseases and parasites in other countries which are transmitted from dog-to-dog or from dogs to humans which put the safety of our citizens and our dog population at great risk. In late 2004, the first case of canine rabies in Los Angeles County in 30 years was confirmed. The dog had recently come in from Mexico. Rabies is a fatal disease that still causes over 50,000 human deaths annually worldwide.

Claims of high incidence of illness in pet store puppies are totally unsubstantiated. There is evidence that the pet industry provides more veterinary care for puppies than the public at large. DVM/VPI Insurance Group, the largest provider of animal health insurance, testified during a hearing in California that "preconceived notions" concerning pet store puppies "could not have been more wrong."
After insuring more than 89,000 pet store puppies and kittens and handling health claims from a pool of more than 500,000 insured animals, the insurance company reduced its premiums for pet store puppies and kittens substantially by as much as 22 percent compared to premiums charged for animals from other sources. Why? Pet store puppies receive more veterinary attention during the first 12 weeks of age than any other puppies and, as a result, have fewer claims.

Commercial breeders are a legitimate source for healthy, well-bred animals. Studies show pet store animals are generally very healthy. Shelter and rescued animals are a different matter, with unknown health, temperament, parasites and infectious diseases.

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Ok, so you're on the board of The California Federation of Dog Clubs. Apparently, you're not merely a dog owner as you stated in a previous post; you have a vested interest in the sale of dogs and "to protect OWNER'S RIGHTS." Even more laughable and as despicable as the American Kennel Club, which is in the business of registering puppy mill dogs and pretending that papers mean something (check out the current article in the NY Times exposing the truth about the AKC). And surely you have to know that when a shelter or rescue adopts out a dog, they are not profiting; they are doing it to save the dog...unlike a greedy puppy mill, pet store or online seller of commercially bred dogs, who are selling them solely for profit. Shelters are operated by the city or county and are severely underfunded. Independent rescuers are for the most part always in the red...adoption fees don't even put a dent in their expenses for vet bills, boarding, feeding, etc. You are surely aware of all this and obviously hoping folks who are still in the dark about pet stores/puppy mills will buy into the lies you are helping to spread. Your ridiculous stat about Humane Society of the United States is exactly that, ridiculous. You meant to say that 1 percent of their donations is spent on animal shelters, which isn't close to true either, more propaganda from pet trade profiteers, including Humane Watch (sponsored by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a front for the Fast Food, Meat, Alcohol and Tobacco Industries, whose purpose is to destroy the HSUS because laws that protect animals hurt profits). Yes, HSUS does spend more of their donations on legislation and animal welfare campaigns than on shelters. They don't claim to be a sheltering organization and are separate from local shelters that are also called Humane Societies. HSUS raids puppy mills and dog fighting rings, protects animals used for experimentation, protects wildlife, etc. etc. and has donated millions of dollars to local shelters. True, HSUS is not the California Federation of Dog Clubs. A world of difference.

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HSUS as a philanthropic organization? There's a joke. HSUS asked the judge in the Vick case to KILL all the dogs....even the puppies. Luckily the judge ignored that plea, the dogs were rehabbed and placed and are doing just fine now. The HSUS raised millions using images of an injured fighting dog and then never sent the caretaker a DIME of money for her care until the fosterer went public with the information. The HSUS is a group of extremists and sociopaths. There is nothing "humane" going on in that organization.
Tens of thousands of imported rescues and dogs smuggled into California from Mexico every year fly in the face of your insipid claim that there are plenty of dogs available from so-called "responsible" breeders.
Not that there is anything wrong with working for profit (no one can survive unless they make money to pay their bills and buy food), but many rescues do make money, with product that costs them literally nothing. Our local small breed rescue charges $500 for a puppy under 6 months old...and people are happy to pay it. They racked in a six figure income last year.
The only study to date on the origins of shelter pets was done by "Heaven Can Wait" animal sanctuary in Nevada. They found that fewer than 5% of dogs originated from pet stores. Most were from home breeders and many were recidivist from shelter and rescue origins.
A person who is a pet owner and who fights for rights of animal owners has just as much right to speak up for their rights as does anyone who is subjected to the oppression of others such as yourself.

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Dogs have a right not to be imprisoned in cages as breeding machines for life; they have a right to get exercise; they have a right to feel grass; they have a right to be loved. Consumers have a right not to pay a lot of money for sick dogs bred in these factories. Paul Koretz took a big step in the right direction, and now other cities will follow suit. God Bless America and god bless our animals.

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HSUS Campaigns: Farm animal protection, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife abuse, fur, puppy mills, shelter assistance, animal welfare legislation.

California Federation of Dog Clubs: Promoting puppy mills, fighting animal welfare legislation, breeding and correctly identifying the breeds of shelter dogs while millions are destroyed (about a third purebred) and one smoke screen: a disaster fund.

Who are the sociopaths?

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In the recent undercover operation, lot of shocking facts came into spotlight about the cruelty of pet owners. Here are those shocking facts for you - http://www.rosebudmag.com/truth-squad/pet-stores-puppy-mills-and-responsible-adoptions