Best Friends leads effort in L.A. to ban sale of dogs, cats, rabbits

The Los Angeles City Council today formalized its approval of an ordinance (by a 13-2 vote) that bans the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits — an important step on the path to becoming the largest no-kill community in the United States.

This action also makes the City of Angels the largest city in the United States to enact legislation that puts an end to the flow of animals from puppy mills, the large commercial breeding farms that supply pet stores. In the future, dogs, cats and rabbits in Los Angeles pet stores will be from shelters or rescue groups.

“It’s a very good day for the people and animals of L.A.,” says Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends Animal Society’s national manager of puppy mill initiatives. “Not only will this restrict the flow of animals coming into our city from pet mills and backyard breeders, it will help alleviate the pet overpopulation problem in our shelters by providing more opportunities for rescued animals to find homes.

For the past two and a half years, Best Friends, under Elizabeth’s leadership, has been working closely with the offices of the mayor and city attorney, as well as L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, L.A. Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, and a few key stakeholders in the animal welfare community to craft an ordinance that effectively shuts down the city of Los Angeles for the sale of these animals.

Los Angeles joins 27 other cities in North America, including Toronto and 10 other California communities, in putting a major crimp in the pet store trade.

“More than 70,000 animals are euthanized in Los Angeles city and county shelters every year — at taxpayer expense,” says Elizabeth. “To continue importing puppies and kittens from mills in other states while we are killing the surplus that are already filling our shelters simply doesn't make sense. Today, Los Angeles took a reasonable and progressive step to addressing these issues in our city.”

Elizabeth says the ordinance will not affect responsible hobby breeders, who will remain a source of purebred animals for those who are not able to find the purebred of their choice through shelters, purebred rescue groups or online databases, such as In fact, the ordinance should actually help increase business for the breeders in local communities, which is preferable to importing business from outside of Los Angeles, she adds.

Elizabeth says that today she received calls and e-mails from people all over the country, asking how they can enact an ordinance to ban retail sales of pets in their own communities.

“We are witnessing a cultural shift that comes from true grassroots advocacy in action," she says. "It is only a matter of time before there will be very few places where one will be able to walk into a pet store and purchase an animal from a puppy or kitten mill.”

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society