A late-night vote in Burbank, California, has that city following in the footsteps of many before them. When the final “yea” vote was cast, the crowd in attendance cheered.
The Southern California city, most known for its ties to movies and TV, joins an elite club of 30 municipalities across North America that are now part of this growing trend to stop puppy mills at the point of sale. Burbank, which once saw the largest influx of puppy mill puppies, shows that the momentum to stop the sale of mill puppies is building to unbelievable levels.
Elizabeth Oreck, national manager of Best Friends’ puppy mill initiatives, knew she had quite an uphill battle on her hands when she began this in February of 2012. Burbank’s primary pet store selling pets from the mill trade (there were only two) was a fixture of the community. In business for more than 50 years, they openly admitted they sourced the animals from the Midwest, and the stories of customers purchasing sick dogs were plentiful.
Oreck recalls her first meetings with Burbank council members: “When I sat down with them just about one year ago, they weren’t all aware of what a puppy mill was. I really had to start at ground zero, but we knew that it was worth the effort.”
The yearlong effort was not without its fair share of hurdles along the way. Even up until last night, there was a suggestion to exempt all currently in-operation pet stores. But Oreck and members of Burbank C.R.O.P.S (Citizens for Rescue-Only Pet Stores) worked with council members to help them understand why that kind of exemption would mean any ordinance would be lacking teeth. The version that eventually passed gives current stores six months to comply, and then bans retail sales moving forward.
Considering where it all began, the 4-1 vote just shows what tenacity and collaboration can do.
“The community really, really came together to show their support for this,” says Oreck. “That’s what makes this so exciting. There was a lot of pressure to not pass this, but over the course of the last year, we’ve really been able to turn the tide.”
It’s yet another big victory and a validation of our strategy to end the demand for animals from mills. However, this is far from over. So help us spread the word:
- Check out our puppy mill resources, and learn how you can get involved.
- Spread the word amongst your friends on social media — use our resource “What Is a Puppy Mill?” to educate about the issue.
- Use our resource “Alternatives to Buying Pets Online or from Pet Stores” to help your friends understand where they can find their next family member.
Original Post: The Best Friends Blog
Senior Director, Communications
Best Friends Animal Society
Burbank this week joined the growing list of cities that have banned the retail sale of pets, but built in a six-month grace period for existing pet stores.
A paradigm shift has occurred, offering an alternative to a former way of
doing business. Many current retailers in the pet industry are embracing the
opportunity to help animals in need by working with rescue groups, shelters or
holding adoption events at their store rather than selling pets from high-volume
breeders (aka puppy mills).
Small business owners are opening pet boutiques that offer adoptable dogs, cats, rabbits, etc., while offering great services. As more people are aware of the connection between puppy mills and pet
stores, it seems irresponsible for consumers and retailers to support a cruel
and inhumane breeding industry when so many healthy, adoptable pets die at local
shelters for no reason other than space.
Retailers and customers are smarter and more connected than ever before. The current marketplace is extremely transparent. With the increased usage of social media, consumers are
able to speak directly with businesses, not to mention fellow consumers. More
than ever, customers review and rate their experiences and share them online
with others — hundreds if not thousands of others. It is said that the most
successful marketing is “word of mouth.”
Customers notice when retailers demonstrate best business practices. Those
businesses are trusted, appreciated and continuously patronized by the
I regard Burbank as a cutting-edge and progressive city. However, I was
extremely disheartened to find that the city is behind the curve in the national
effort to ban the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. Puppies for sale in
pet stores usually come from puppy mills, which breed dogs for profit only,
keeping puppies and dogs in cruel and inhumane conditions. These puppies are
often abused and quite ill. People looking for a lovable companion will find an
abundance of loving puppies and dogs in the Burbank and Los Angeles animal
shelters, desperately waiting for a home.
Every puppy purchased from a pet store contributes to the Burbank and Los Angeles crisis of pet
overpopulation and equals another animal the cities must euthanize. Nearly
100,000 pets were euthanized in 2011 in greater Los Angeles animal shelters.
Dogs purchased in pet stores are not spayed or neutered, so the possibility of
these animals contributing to the overpopulation epidemic and further crowding
the Burbank Animal Shelter is extremely high.
There are so many pet stores that actually care about pets and are successful in
joining with local shelters to assist in the adoption of homeless puppies.
Please, City Council, join the national trend and ban the sale of puppies in pet
stores. It's a moral imperative.
A simple deduction: Responsible breeders adhere to Codes of Ethics. The Codes of Ethics state they won’t sell to pet stores. So, if pet stores are selling these types of puppies, among others, they
are not coming from responsible breeders, they are coming from puppy mills.
Here are a few excepts of Codes of Ethics from various breeds:
- Yorkshire Terrier Club of America: “Puppies will not be sold or consigned to pet stores….”
- Boston Terrier Club of America: “Sell no Boston Terrier to a commercial facility, puppy broker, pet shop, puppy mill or their agent.”
- French Bull Dog Club of America: “As a member of the French Bull Dog Club of America, I will not sell a French Bulldog to any commercial facility, puppy broker, pet shop, puppy mill or agent
- American Maltese Association: “I will not…deal with commercial retailers…nor supply dogs for raffles, “give-away” prizes or other such projects.
-Dachsund Club of America: “To never supply a Dachshund to pet shops, commercial brokers or
-National Labrador Retriever Club: “Under no circumstances will an ethical breeder…sell to pet dealers or retailers….”
Burbank City Council should pass an ordinance, with no grandfathering provision, banning the sale of commercially bred animals unless they come from registered non-profit animal rescue, adoption or shelter organizations. Recycling and water conservation programs along with smoking bans exist because we have more knowledge about sustainability and health. Now, we have more knowledge about the puppy mill industry. It is inhumane and does not work in our society any longer when we are killing millions of healthy animals for no reason other than there is not enough space for them.
For a list of more Dog Breeder’s Codes of Ethics you can go to
the individual websites or www.dogplay.com/Breeding/coe.html
With all of this talk of cities banning the sale of mill-bred puppies at pet
stores, it left me wondering what sort of reassurance I have when purchasing a
pet. If I buy a dog with American Kennel Club (AKC) registration papers, does this guarantee the health or quality of the dog or ensure that the dog came from a reputable breeder — not a
I made calls. I sent emails. I read articles. I've discovered the AKC does not guarantee the health or quality of the dog or ensure that the breeder is reputable. We need to do our research. Visit the breeder in person or better yet, forget the papers and save a homeless animal's life by adopting. Google “AKC and puppy mill” and see for yourself.
- Jen Krause
We were shocked and very disappointed to learn that Burbank has not yet joined other progressive cities to ban the sale of mill animals from retail pet stores. With all the information about commercial breeding facilities available, it seems unbelievable that these barbaric places still exist and that a large percentage of the public are still unaware. The reality is state and federal laws are slow to change and it is easier to pretend this is not going on.
Puppies and kittens are lifetime commitments, not gifts or toys to be played with for a short period of time and then tossed aside, disregarded or replaced by the next latest and greatest “thing.” This is what happens when these adorable little balls of fur and fluff are purchased as presents and it is easier than ever to buy a pet in a store or online. With just one click, a life can be purchased.
December 05, 2012
The Nov. 28 letter to the editor by Glen Forsch is a case in point for education
on the puppy mill ordinance. His “facts” are simply untrue. He states that an
outright ban would do nothing to solve the puppy mill problem, but supply and
demand is a basic business principle. Ban stores from stocking mill animals, and
fewer mill animals will be produced.
His fear that big-box stores will not comply is completely unfounded; the top
two big-box stores are already rescue-only.
Forsch suggests that proponents of the ban should take the route of anti-smoking
campaigns. That’s precisely what they’re doing. Education persuaded some
individuals to quit smoking or not start, but that cleaner air you breathe is
due to education convincing people to sign ordinances in cities (i.e. Burbank)
to make smoking unlawful in many public areas.
Education is precisely why the puppy mill ordinance is on the table now. As
the anti-smoking campaign proved, you have the right to harm yourself, but you
do not have the right to hurt others. Supporting factory farming of pets isn’t
just cruel and harmful to the animals involved; it’s a significant blow to the
moral health of this community.
December 5, 2012
I have been following the evolving accounts about the Burbank “puppy mill
ordinance” and support it without grandfathering in existing pet stores.
I'm a 38-year Burbank resident, and over those years purchased purebred puppies
from breeders as well as rescued strays from the streets. All have been wonderful
additions to our family.
I do not believe that this ordinance would take away anyone's right to purchase a
pet from a breeder. Hopefully, it redirects them to a responsible breeder. A
listing of approved breeders is available on the American Kennel Club website.
Responsible breeders make every effort to strengthen their breed by breeding
better dogs each generation. They keep a small number of dogs and limit the number of
litters for the mother's health.
Reputable breeders have their breeding stock tested and certified for health issues
related to the breed, such as vision, hearing and hips. They will guarantee the health of their puppies by taking the pet back, exchanging, rebating or refunding. They will educate about
their breed and its care while also asking the buyer questions about their
lifestyle to ensure that the new home is a proper fit.
Dogs in puppy mills live in deplorable conditions, and in many cases the offspring
develop genetic health conditions leaving buyers responsible for huge veterinary bills
or leaving them heartbroken should their puppy not survive. Pet-store puppies
are most likely acquired from “mills” because an ethical breeder will not sell
to a third party such as a broker, distributor or pet store. Responsible
breeders are not profit-driven. They are devoted to their love of the breed.