The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve new legislation that prohibits most sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores within city limits.
Under the ban, which takes effect later this year, pet stores will be permitted to offer animals from local shelters rather than those purchased from for-profit breeders. That business model has been implemented in recent years by several L.A.-area pet stores, including Melrose Avenue shop Orange Bone.
Despite the fact that no West Hollywood pet stores currently sell puppies or kittens, the move is seen as a major victory by activists who see it as an early step in the fight to end the problem of puppy mills. "This definitely calls for champagne," Carole Raphaelle Davis, West Coast director of the Companion Animal Protection Society, told our colleague Kate Linthicum before Tuesday's vote. "We're definitely taking this fight to Los Angeles. We want all of the stores citywide to go humane."
The famously liberal-minded West Hollywood has been at the forefront of the animal protection movement for years. In 2002, it amended its city code to refer to animals like dogs and cats as "companions" rather than "pets." (For the record, the word "owner" was also replaced with "guardian.") In 2003, it officially prohibited the declawing of cats, becoming the first city in the U.S. to implement such a ban. Several other California cities followed suit in 2009.
"People outside of the city roll their eyes and tell us we're silly," Councilman Jeffrey Prang, who sponsored the new law, told Linthicum, referring to such legislation. "You only have to look at the amount of abuse that takes place in order to see that these efforts are not silly."
The Companion Animal Protection Society brought evidence to the City Council last year that suggested an area pet store was selling puppies obtained from Russia and from a puppy mill in Minnesota. After repeated protests by the organization, the store stopped selling the puppies, Davis told the Associated Press. But the incident apparently brought the puppy-mill issue to the forefront of the council's consciousness, culminating in Tuesday's vote.
South Lake Tahoe approved a similar ban on pet-store puppy and kitten sales in 2009.