CARLSBAD — At its Oct. 8 meeting, Carlsbad City Council adopted an urgency ordinance that immediately bans the sale of cats and dogs within the city, though refrained from voting on a formal ordinance to enact the ban permanently.
The urgency ordinance prevents retail businesses within the city from selling cats and dogs with the exception of existing pet stores that already sell animals, rescue shelters, humane society shelters, and non-retail breeders.
Sponsored by the Humane Society, the ban is designed to prevent the sale of cats and dogs that have been mass-produced in substandard breeding facilities across the United States, according to a city report on the ban.
Animals that are raised in what are called “puppy mills” and “kitten factories” often have genetic disorders and prone to illness.
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) is responsible for licensing and inspecting animal breeders while the San Diego County Department of Animal Services responds to animal abuse claims locally.
By eliminating the retail sale of cats and dogs, the Humane Society is hopeful that residents will be more likely to adopt pets from shelters, which would also reduce the cost of sheltering animals.
Currently, the only retail pet seller in Carlsbad is California Pets, which is located in the Westfield mall. The store has not been cited for any violations.
Members of the San Diego County Animal Defense Team spoke in favor of the ban at the meeting and encouraged city council to not allow California Pets to continue selling pets.
“These puppies are coming from all of the states known as the puppy mill states and these puppies are coming to Carlsbad,” said representative Janice Hatsh. “Carlsbad has the opportunity to become part of the solution not the problem.”
Stephanie Vaughn, who manages California Pets, said that the shop investigates its breeders closely and checks USDA records before purchasing animals from breeders.
“I personally don’t believe we buy from puppy mills,” she said. “The health of our animals is our main priority.”
The store primarily sells 8-to-12 week-old puppies for $1,000 to $2,000, said Vaughn. She explained that a veterinarian checks all of the store’s animals on a weekly basis and the store offers a warranty guaranteeing the health of all of its animals.
Speaking on behalf of several kennel clubs in the county, Dr. Kay Henderson spoke against the ban, saying, “California has some of the best sales regulations in the country…We don’t need a pet store ban.”
San Marcos resident John Fowler encouraged city council to delay voting on the ordinance to further consider the ban’s consequences on local breeders. Fowler, who breeds horses, cats, and dogs, said, “We have never sold any animal to a pet store. We would never even think of doing it.”
Councilmember Keith Blackburn urged the rest of the Council to support the ban.
A volunteer at local animal rescue organizations, he said, “I thought that banning the retail sales of cats and dogs would help some of the issues I see at the rescue shelters.”
Councilmember Farrah Douglas expressed that she wanted more information about how animal breeders and pet stores are regulated and Councilmember Lorraine Wood said that she disagreed with the portion of the full ordinance that prevented California Pets from expanding in Carlsbad.
Mayor Matt Hall stood firmly against the ban as a whole, saying that there are already regulatory measures of pet sales in place.
“I don’t think this ordinance tonight touches the problem,” he said. “Eliminating a type of business because another agency, state or federal, is not doing what they’re charged to do, is the wrong way to go around it.”
“My concern is that if we don’t pass the emergency ordinance, in the next month then six (retail pet) businesses are going to apply to open in Carlsbad,” Blackburn said.
Consequently he convinced Douglas and Wood to vote in favor of the urgency ordinance and come back to the full ordinance with more research from city staff at a future meeting.
Hall voted against the urgency ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Mark Packard was not present at the meeting.