On February 1, 2010, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved a proposed ordinance banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores . The proposed ordinance is expected to become law.
The main force behind this ordinance was the Companion Animal Protection Society, which was founded in 1992 and is “dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills.”
I spoke with Carole Davis, the West Coast Director of CAPS, just days after the proposed ordinance was approved.
Congratulations on the ordinance! How did the city council meeting go?
The meeting went extraordinarily well. We were successful. The city council of West Hollywood made history by sending a strong message to pet factory operators in states near and far.
What exactly is prohibited under the ordinance?
West Hollywood has passed an ordinance that bans the sale of cats and dogs from inhumane commercial pet factories. The important thing is the step they’ve taken which is historic and symbolic. It creates a cruelty-free atmosphere in West Hollywood, sending a message to our city and our nation.
What did you do to get this ordinance introduced?
What led to this was an investigation of West Hollywood pet stores that was part of a larger investigation of Los Angeles pet stores. In that investigation we gleaned footage and USDA inspection reports of a mill in Minnesota that supplied the West Hollywood stores as well as other stores around the country. This breeding factory had multiple and repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
When we saw the evidence from the CAPS investigation, we immediately took it to city hall. We brought it to (West Hollywood Councilmember) Jeff Prang. We also invited the owners of Elite Animals to come to a meeting to present them with the evidence before we protested, in order to give them a chance to stop what they were doing. They did not want to even see it. But I told them that it was important that they see where their dogs are from and what the conditions are of the breeding dogs, and how cruel the people are that they do business with on a regular basis. The dogs in the evidence that we provided there at city hall were animals who were in agony. They were wounded, they were sick, they were deformed. They showed signs of extreme stress. They were exposed to the elements. Minnesota has harsh winters. The owner of the store made a decision to not act upon seeing the evidence and therefore we felt that we were justified in planting a siege in front of their store to demand that they stop selling these animals. To educate consumers and educate the public in West Hollywood about the truth behind their storefront.
We also, with our undercover investigation of the store, were offered a $20,000 cat. A serval cat, imported from overseas. (Ed. Note: Keeping servals as pets is illegal in California.) We notified the proper authorities – Fish and Game – about that. The investigation is ongoing.
We also discovered that they were selling underage puppies from Moscow in their store. This is a violation of federal law, the Farm Act of 2008. We continued keeping the city of West Hollywood informed of developments and assisted the city with the help of Animal Legal Defense Fund and The Humane Society of the US in drafting the ordinance banning the sale of dogs and cats from these types of pet factories in West Hollywood, hoping that this sort of ordinance would provide a model for the many cities who have asked for our assistance in similar legislation.