Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Laguna Beach proposes to ban retail sale of pets

City of Laguna Beach
505 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Fax 949-497-0771
April 17, 2012
Dear Mayor Eggly and City Council Members,

The California Federation of Dog Clubs, founded in 1990, represents thousands of dog owners across our state. We are advocates for animal welfare, for promotion of responsible dog ownership and for protecting the rights of responsible dog owners. Among our current projects, we conduct breed identification workshops for shelter workers, we distribute a dog care and training brochure for new owners who adopt from shelters, and provide a 1-800 help line for pet owners struggling with behavior or training problems. We also maintain and administer a relief fund for animals affected by disasters such as earthquakes or fires. We support animal legislation that provides positive benefits to society.

The CFoDC is OPPOSED to bans on retail sales of pets, regardless of exemptions. It seems the intent of your ordinance is to eliminate anyone who breeds or sells animals with the intent to profit; as if the intent to sell well-bred, healthy animals as a profitable business is something to be ashamed of! In any event, California's Lockyer-Polanco act provides consumer protection for pets purchased in pet stores. This law provides no consumer protection for animals that come from shelters or rescues.

 Further, the premise in your "Summary" of April 6, includes a false supposition that "animal rescue shops……do not rely on commercial breeders as a source for dogs or cats."

In fact, it is impossible to know for sure exactly WHERE the animals in most shelters or rescues originated. These animals often come from unregulated sources such as casual home breeders, from unregulated foreign puppy mills or from groups who rescue "street strays" from outside the continental US, and a few may even originate in commercial breeding establishments. Rescue groups often obtain animals from "raids" of commercial breeding establishments so yes, they do rely on commercial breeders as a source for dogs or cats. A sales ban would only hurt legitimate businesses and responsible, regulated breeders, not substandard facilities.

Sales bans create a shortage of desirable pets, a black market for dogs and cats, and a rise in imports from other countries. And, replacing pets from licensed breeders with unregulated "rescue" animals is very unwise. Many "rescue" groups are already importing dogs from overseas to meet the demand for pets. This is happening right now in southern California! A rescue group in LA imports dogs and sells them for hundreds of dollars each. Per the "Dogs Without Borders" website: "We currently rescue most dogs from local shelters and strays, but sometimes we rescue dogs from as far away as Taiwan!....Some of the dogs you see on our site are not here in the States."

This practice is not only outrageous, but also is very irresponsible on the part of the shelters/rescues that participate. There are diseases and parasites in other countries which are transmitted from dog-to-dog or from dogs to humans which put the safety of our citizens and our dog population at great risk. In late 2004, the first case of canine rabies in Los Angeles County in 30 years was confirmed. The dog had recently come in from Mexico. Rabies is a fatal disease that still causes over 50,000 human deaths annually worldwide. 

Claims of high incidence of illness in pet store puppies are totally unsubstantiated. There is evidence that the pet industry provides more veterinary care for puppies than the public at large. DVM/VPI Insurance Group, the largest provider of animal health insurance, testified during a hearing in California that "preconceived notions" concerning pet store puppies "could not have been more wrong."

After insuring more than 89,000 pet store puppies and kittens and handling health claims from a pool of more than 500,000 insured animals, the insurance company reduced its premiums for pet store puppies and kittens substantially by as much as 22 percent compared to premiums charged for animals from other sources. Why? Pet store puppies receive more veterinary attention during the first 12 weeks of age than any other puppies and, as a result, have fewer claims.

Commercial breeders are a legitimate source for healthy, well-bred animals. Studies show pet store animals are generally very healthy. Shelter and rescued animals are a different matter, with unknown health, temperament, parasites and infectious diseases. We urge you to reject the proposed ordinance to prohibit the retail sale of puppies, dogs, kittens and cats.

Sincerely yours,
Geneva Coats, Secretary
California Federation of Dog Clubs

Cc: Jane Eggly, Verna Rollinger, Kelly Boyd, Elizabeth Pearson, Toni Iseman

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