Full-circle win in Beverly Hills

The fight against commercial pet breeding operations, better known as pet mills, has been an interesting ride. Up until 2007, the effort had largely been focused around advocacy-based work, telling the world about the horrors contained in these operations, as well as some organizations working to save as many animals as possible directly from the mills themselves. The latter is certainly honorable and important work that has made a big difference in the lives of those individual dogs, but it has done very little to really impact the industry.

Pet store demonstrations were not a new idea in 2007, but they had never been used in a systematic, long-term strategy to take the puppy mill issue to the consumer at the point of sale. If people walking into a pet store could be informed, at that moment, of what they were buying, then maybe that educational moment could prevent the sale of these animals. The first place we engaged in this plan was Beverly Hills, California, home to Posh Puppy, a store well-known for selling puppy mill dogs to some of Hollywood’s richest and most famous people.

The demonstrations were hugely successful and drew large crowds of people, including some celebrities who were on the right side of the issue. The media took notice as well, and that coverage helped propel forward the work of the Best Friends puppy mill initiatives. At the same time, we attempted to work with the Posh Puppy store owners to let them know that they could run their business a better, more humane way by featuring animals for adoption from shelters instead of selling dogs from puppy mills.

I’m sorry to say that the owners of Posh Puppy pushed back to the very end, and instead of converting to a humane business model, they shuttered the place. This was unfortunate, but it meant that this purveyor of animals from some of the most unimaginably horrific conditions would no longer be peddling puppies to unsuspecting Angelinos.

Beverly Hills isn’t a big town, with a population of only 34,000, and Posh Puppy was the only pet store. Since the closure of Posh Puppy, it seems no one has dared to open a store using animals from mills. Still, Elizabeth Oreck, our puppy mill initiatives manager, has been working hard to pass a retail pet sales ordinance in Beverly Hills. More than 80 similar ordinances have been enacted across North America, including within the City of Los Angeles and other L.A. area municipalities. The ordinances prevent pet stores from selling dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits) unless they come from shelters or rescue groups.

So we’re thrilled to be able to announce that last night the Beverly Hills City Council voted to enact the ordinance. It’s a wonderful moment to see the efforts of this initiative come full circle in the city where Best Friends’ puppy mill work began.

Attacking the problem of puppy and kitten mills from the point of sale is an incredibly critical piece of this work. It’s simple economics. If we limit the demand on the consumer side for milled animals, then the supply must also shrink. Fewer animals being produced means fewer animals being born into terrible mills.

We’re closer than we’ve ever been to ending pet mills, but we still have a very long way to go. This industry has made untold millions from these animals who have suffered for far too long.

To learn how you can help us in the fight against pet mills, click here.

Thank you for your support on this and every issue. Together, we can Save Them All.