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California Pet Stores Continue to Pull Up Stakes; Burbank City Council Vote Fuels National Trend

The Burbank City Council, in a final, formal vote this week, has approved an ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores, making Burbank the latest in a series of California communities to end the retail sale of pets in a store. The new ordinance also is part of a national trend to restrict the sale of dogs and cats from high volume commercial breeders (puppy and kitten mills) in pet stores throughout the country.

Following the example of Los Angeles, which passed a similar ordinance last fall, Burbank becomes the 12th city in the state to end pet store sales. Throughout the United States and Canada, a total of 31 cities (with Burbank the latest) have passed similar ordinances. Two Barkworks pet stores in the LA-area also have closed in the last five weeks.

The ordinance exempts stores that choose to offer for adoption dogs and cats from animal shelters and rescue groups, but for all others it goes into effect immediately, with a six-month grace period allowed for stores to phase out the sale of milled animals.

Led by Best Friends Animal Society, which has been campaigning against retail sale of pets for nearly five years, pet stores are closing down at an unprecedented rate, according to Elizabeth Oreck of Best Friends who has spearheaded the organization's initiative work on puppy mills and who first brought the proposal to the Burbank City Council last February.

"It has been so inspiring to watch this trend spread across the country, with California leading the way," Oreck said. "One by one, communities are looking into the conditions which send animals to pet shops for sale. And they are becoming more aware of the need to find homes for the many animals who find their way into shelters.

"Our latest new ordinance in Burbank was the result of the community rallying together to promote positive, effectual change for animals," Oreck said. "It's been the same in other parts of the country - always a true, selfless effort to help convince municipal governments to take a critical step toward the day when dogs and cats will no longer suffer in mills and homeless animals no longer die in shelters."

Puppy mills are factory-like commercial breeding operations where puppies and breeding parents are forced to live in squalid conditions. Dogs used for breeding in puppy mills spend their entire lives in small, crowded cages without adequate exercise, human interaction or veterinary care. Most have never played with toys, walked on grass, enjoyed treats or felt human affection. They exist solely to produce the millions of puppies sold online or supplied to pet stores nationwide.

Rene Karapedian, owner of Pet Rush, stopped selling puppy mill dogs in August of 2010 at his original store in Glendale, and began providing dogs for adoption from LA County shelters. He opened a second Pet Rush location in Burbank in 2012. Karapedian finds homes for about 300 dogs a year through his two adoption stores, and is a big proponent of the adoption business model. He helps advise other pet store owners who are looking to make the transition to adoption. A handful of other pet stores in Burbank also successfully provide homeless animals for adoption.

Aspiring to create a world of No More Homeless Pets, Best Friends puppy mill initiatives encourage people to always adopt from a shelter or rescue group and reject the notion of supporting the puppy mill industry by buying from a pet store or online retailer. Besides adoption, another goal is to educate the public about the inhumane conditions in puppy mills and inform consumers that they can be a part of the solution by choosing to adopt.

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society®, named Animal Welfare Non-Profit National Brand of the Year based on the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study, is a national animal welfare organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets®. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

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