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December 16, 2010

Austin City Council Prohibits Retail Sales of Dogs and Cats

The HSUS applauds step to close channel for sales from cruel puppy mills

The Austin, Texas, City Council has approved an ordinance to prohibit retail sales of dogs and cats at pet stores, a measure that will help crack down on inhumane puppy mills. The ordinance was originally proposed in July by David Lundstedt, the vice-chair of the Austin Animal Advisory Commission, which unanimously recommended that the City Council pass such a prohibition.

The ordinance makes Austin the first city in Texas to ban the sale of all dogs and cats at retail establishments and one of only a handful of cities in the nation to close off a primary channel for the sale of dogs and cats produced in cruel puppy and kitten mills. Puppy mill dogs are primarily sold through commercial pet stores or directly to consumers over the Internet.

“We commend the humane leaders of Austin for recognizing the direct link between inhumane puppy mills and commercial pet store sales of dogs and cats," said The HSUS' Texas senior state director Nicole Paquette. “By drying up the demand for puppy mill dogs, the ordinance will boost adoptions for area animal shelters and rescue groups and increase opportunities for responsible dog breeders."

The Austin ordinance prohibits the sale of dogs and cats at a location other than where the animal was bred with exemptions for the City of Austin Animal Shelter, nonprofit organizations registered with the city, and animals being adopted at mobile pet adoption establishments.

“The City Council has taken a strong stand against pet stores that purchase pets from puppy mills,” said David Lundstedt, vice-chair of the Austin Animal Advisory Commission. “Austin kills roughly 6,000 animals a year, at a significant cost to the taxpayer, and there is no reason to ship in hundreds of un-spayed and un-neutered animals from out of state. The city wants to encourage people to adopt from the local shelter or the many rescue groups here in Austin.”

The financial success of companies that refuse to sell puppies and kittens, such as the nation's largest retail pet supply stores PETCO and PetSmart, is proof that a humane business model is successful. In addition to the large retail chains, more than 900 independent pet shops around the country, including 35 in Texas, have voluntarily signed The HSUS' Puppy Friendly pledge not to sell puppies at their stores. A list of these stores is available here.

Legislation to regulate large scale commercial dog breeding facilities and protect dogs at puppy mills will be considered by the Texas legislature in 2011. Texas is one of only two states in the top ten puppy mill producing states with no oversight of this industry. 

Puppy Mill Facts

  • The HSUS recommends never purchasing a puppy from a pet store or Internet site, or from any breeder one has not carefully screened in person.
  • There are approximately 9,000 independent retail pet stores in the U.S. About one third of them sell puppies.
  • Several other cities have prohibited the retail sale of dogs and cats at pet stores, including Albuquerque, N.M., and West Hollywood, Calif.
  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care; live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction; and are confined inside cramped wire-floored cages for life. There is little regard for the dogs' health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.
  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are typically confined for years on end, without ever becoming part of a family.
  • Reputable breeders never sell puppies over the Internet or through a pet store and will insist on meeting the family who will be purchasing the dog.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills. The HSUS’ Puppy Buyers Guide is available at humanesociety.org/puppy.  

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store. 

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org

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