If you’ve ever been up late watching cable TV, you’ve probably witnessed this cripplingly sad commercial featuring singer Sarah McLachlan. You know the one—it’s got cats and dogs suffering at the hands of cruel humans. By the end of it (through your tears, probably), you know that there are many, many animals that need help. The ASPCA estimates that 7.6 million of them need a home.
Despite this harrowing fact, many people choose to get their furry friend from the traditional pet shop. There’s one big problem with this, though. Many of the cats and dogs you’ll find there are products of puppy or kitty mills. These places are notorious for their inhumane treatment of animals. In an op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner, the city’s Board of Supervisors wrote:
“Most animal lovers are horrified at the thought of keeping their beloved family pet in a dirty wire cage for a second—let alone a week, month or even years. Yet, that is the fate of many animals at large-scale commercial breeding operations across the nation, including the mothers of many puppies and kittens sold in pet shops.”
The Reasons Behind the Ban
Wanting to end the cycle of abuse in San Francisco, lawmakers proposed to ban the sale of non-rescue dogs and cats. Furthermore, it’ll help facilitate adoption of animals already occupying the city’s shelters. The measure was sponsored by District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang and garnered unanimous support; it passed in mid February. Puppy mills are out of the picture, San Francisco pet shops are still able to sell animals from licensed breeders.
Mimi Bekhechi, PETA’s director of international programs, praised the passing. “With this vote,” she told Independent, “San Francisco has proved itself to be the city of love for millions of dogs and cats in desperate need of homes. The city has recognized that animals are not commodities and that there’s a direct link between the industry and the millions of dogs and cats in shelters around the world who are euthanized each year because there aren’t enough good homes for them all.”
San Francisco Isn’t the First, and Hopefully Won’t Be the Last
San Francisco is one of the trendiest cities in the U.S., but they weren’t the first to pass this type of ordinance. Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Austin have similar regulations already in place.
Further change, however, comes from recognizing the abuse in the first place. In a Facebook post that was both celebratory and condemning, Tang explained, “I was shocked to find out that recently the USDA removed information documenting cruelty cases, including information about these puppy and kitten mills, from their website. We implore the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make this information available publicly once again.”