Ban on sale of puppies in L.A.

By Julie Castle

This week, the city of Los Angeles took another huge step toward becoming No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA). Back in November, the city council passed an ordinance outlawing the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits by pet stores unless those animals are sourced from 501(c)(3) rescue groups and shelters. This week, the grace period allowed in the law expired, and the ban is now in effect. Any store found to be in violation may be fined up to $1,000 for the third violation. We’re glad to see there will be serious consequences for violating the ordinance.

This is important for a variety of reasons. The obvious one is that it cuts into the bottom line of the cruel puppy mill business. Less obvious is the fact that these animals will no longer be flooding the L.A. consumer market and will be replaced by shelter and recue pets who would otherwise likely die in an area shelter. It’s a win-win for the animals.

The journey to get here took some time, a lot of energy, and a fair amount of heartache, but boy has it been worth it! Under the leadership of our national manager of puppy mill initiatives, Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends began demonstrating outside pet stores across Los Angeles in December of 2007. The campaign was simple. On the one hand, we sought to educate consumers to help them understand just exactly where that cute puppy in the window came from. On the other, we worked with the stores to transition to a humane model pet store that helped them to become part of the solution.

From the get-go, the campaign was a success. Tens of thousands of Angelinos had their eyes opened to the horrors of puppy mills. Some stores saw the greener grass and converted to a humane model. It was great to see the victories pile up, but this wasn’t enough to stop the puppy mill multi-million dollar industry. We needed more action on a greater level more quickly. And, as we first reported to you last year, Los Angeles was looking to follow the lead of other municipalities by totally outlawing the sale of pets from mills.

City councilman Paul Koretz introduced the first motion in June of 2011, with Best Friends’ Elizabeth Oreck working closely with the council on the language. It was strongly supported across the board, even gaining support from the editorial board of the L.A. Times. More than 30 cities and towns now have this kind of law on the books, but Los Angeles is by far the largest.

It’s a heavy message to the mills across the country that this kind of profiting from cruelty will no longer be tolerated in today’s society. We’re thrilled to see the momentum this issue has, even without any support from industry giants, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). We’ll fight this fight without them through America’s democratic process. We are confident that when an educated American public is presented with a choice, they will do the right thing.

Together, we can Save Them All.



Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society