OCEANSIDE — Oceanside City Council approved the introduction of an ordinance to regulate the sale of dogs and cats in a 3-2 vote Jan. 7.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said the intention of the ordinance is to prevent animal cruelty and discourage puppy mill mass breeding practices by restricting city dog and cat sales.
The ordinance spells out only dogs and cats obtained from an animal shelter, humane society, animal rescue organization or small-scale noncommercial breeder can be sold.
The City Council has looked at the puppy mill issue since Oceanside Puppy on Oceanside Boulevard opened over a year ago. The pet shop buys dogs from a wholesale national distributor who buys from mass breeders.
There have been protesters outside the store since it opened.
Its owner David Salinas previously ran a pet store in San Diego until a similar ordinance was passed there.
Oceanside City Council did not garner enough support to pass an ordinance in September 2013. Discussion began again in December 2014 after Councilman Chuck Lowery was elected.
The ordinance introduced Jan. 7 allows Salinas six months to comply.
Salinas objected to the ordinance saying he buys from a distributor who purchases from licensed breeders who are highly regulated.
“We’re a legitimate company doing legitimate business,” Salinas said. “We have thousands of happy customers. We’re doing a great job.”
Following the vote Salinas vowed to stay open and said he would pursue necessary legal action against the city.
“I’m not going to just lay down and do nothing, it’s not fair to the public,” Salinas said. “Absolutely we’re going to stay in operation.”
Councilmen Jerry Kern and Jack Feller voted against the ordinance. Kern said government should not interfere with business operations. A belief he shared in earlier City Council discussions.
“I don’t think we should be doing this,” Kern said. “It’s not up to us to tell someone how to run their business.”
Several speakers supported Oceanside Puppy, and people’s right to choose where to buy a pet.
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voiced the opposite view.
“It’s a no brainer,” Wood said. “We’re only trying to do the right thing. My concern is the animals.”
Sanchez said the ordinance is needed to keep city animal service costs in check and prevent animal cruelty.
She said pet store dogs and cats are not spayed or neutered, and sometimes end up a poor fit for the owner, which adds to pet overpopulation and animal control costs.
She also described the confinement and minimum conditions dogs are kept in for mass breeding as inhumane.
Residents and animal protection group representatives, who spoke in support of the ordinance, shared her concerns. Some added that the ordinance falls short in allowing unregulated noncommercial breeders to sell dogs and cats.
Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, which is contracted to provide city animal control, said the wording that describes noncommercial breed as selling 20 dogs a year provides a loophole that could be taken advantage of.
City Attorney John Mullen said the city would review the inclusion of pet sales by noncommercial breeders before the final vote on the ordinance Jan. 21.