Oceanside, Calif. – The City of Oceanside joined the growing number of jurisdictions that ban the retail sales of companion animals. Ordinance No. 15-OR0026-1, passed in January 2015 by a 3-2 vote, bans stores from selling dogs and cats. It became effective in September 2015.
David Salinas, owner of Oceanside Puppy – the only pet store in Oceanside – continued to sell puppies from his store after the grace period. As a result, he was cited several times for not complying with the newly-enacted ordinance, in addition to refusing to disclose where he was purchasing the puppies, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune (“SD U-T”).
Salinas, owner of now-closed San Diego Puppy, taking photos of protesters (San Diego Animal Defense Team)
Salinas – who use to procure his puppies from Hunte Corporation, one of the largest broker of puppies to pet stores – appealed the citations arguing that the puppies did not come from “commercial breeding operations” (or, Hunte Corp.), but, rather, “hobby breeders” via a broker. The hearing officer ruled against his appeal.
Although Salinas closed Oceanside Puppy in January, he is now suing the City of Oceanside in which he is seeking to have the citations overturned and, further, that “he be allowed to use commercial pet brokers.” SD U-T. City Attorney John Mullen told the SD U-T that they “are confident the hearing officer made the right decision.”
A litter of French bulldog puppies and their mother (Wikipedia / Zaberydivuca / CC By 2.0)
The crux of his case will hinge on whether Salinas’ purchases of puppies from hobby breeders, via a broker, are exempt from the ban.
With respect to the spirit behind the Oceanside ordinance – or the reason why the law was adopted – it doesn’t seem Salinas has much of an argument. The Council’s statement regarding “society’s trend towards promoting the humane treatment of animals” is accurate. Although it cannot be stated with certainty that hobby breeders treat their animals inhumanely, it is certain that procuring animals bred by hobby breeders would be inconsistent with:
- the Council’s finding that there is a problem of pet overpopulation; and
- its goal of lowering the euthanasia rate at the animal shelters or, alternatively, increasing the adoption rate of shelter and rescue animals.
The ordinance is clear. Only animals “obtained from a city or county or other governmental animal shelter or animal control agency, humane society, animal rescue organization, or non-commercial breeding establishment” can be sold in pet shops within its city limits. Salinas did not obtain the puppies from any of the foregoing entities.
More significant is the City Council’s finding that responsible breeders do not sell their pets through pet shops and “work carefully to screen families and ensure good, lifelong matches….”
There is nothing wrong with a responsible breeder’s objective to preserve a particular breed, whether that be German shepherd, miniature schnauzer, or Shih Tzu. But, a hobby breeder who is eager to sell puppies to a broker, to be resold to a pet store owner, to be resold to consumers whose identities are unknown to the breeder likely has little to no regard for the animals’ best interests. As dogplay.com explains,
[T]he problem with breeding dogs as a source of income is that the needs of the dogs are typically shortchanged in that situation.
And, ktcampbell.com says that the responsible hobby breeder:
Is dedicated to producing quality dogs as a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that s/he struggles to break even, rarely making a “profit.” Will sell pups only to approved buyers.
It is doubtful that a pet store selling animals to the “impulse-buying” public would be an approved buyer. If the pet store is an approved buyer, then the “hobby breeder” is within the ranks of a puppy mill that churns out litters for profit – just on a much smaller scale.