Los Angeles poised to take the lead against puppy mills

It’s no secret that most pet stores sell puppies sourced from puppy mills. The puppy in the window is the smiley face plastered on top of an industry built on cruelty.

Puppy mills had been the target of animal welfare organizations for decades, but apart from the occasional exposé and passing public outrage, nothing much came of the effort. Those consumers who knew enough to be concerned about where a particular puppy came from were usually flat-out lied to by pet store staff and assured that the pup came from a responsible breeder.

It wasn’t until the fight was brought to the outlets that sell puppy mill animals that we began to get real traction. In 2007, Best Friends added action at the pet store level to our long-time advocacy against puppy mills.

Best Friends staff and volunteers in Los Angeles, along with other activists, began peaceful demonstrations at Los Angeles–area puppy mill outlets. These puppy store demonstrations, which are really public information and educational activities, have been very successful in ending the sale of puppy mill dogs at a number of local retail outlets in L.A. and Orange County and even contributed to a national mall chain’s decision to phase out pet stores in their malls in favor of hosted adoption events by rescues and shelters.

The big news, however, over the last few years has been at the municipal level, where city councils are taking the bold measure to ban the sale of mill-bred pets in their communities.

The first city of consequence to do so was Albuquerque in 2006. Albuquerque was followed by bans in a group of smaller cities, including a cluster in Southern California. The move makes economic as well as humane and common sense. Cities spend millions on animal-sheltering services and not only do many shelter animals come from pet stores, when it comes time to find an adoptive home for stray or abandoned pets, shelters and rescues compete for consumer attention with pet stores and, ultimately, puppy mills.

In June, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion, the first step in passing an ordinance, to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits within the city of Los Angeles. Elizabeth Oreck, who heads up Best Friends puppy mill initiatives, has worked closely with Councilman Koretz over the last couple of years to bring this to fruition. The final ordinance will come up for a vote before Council within the month. This would be a huge victory for the animals.

Read what the Los Angeles Times has to say about the issue.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society