Best Friends Blog

At long last, pet sales on the way out in L.A.

It’s a great day for animals in the city of Los Angeles! On Wednesday of this week, the Los Angeles City Council (by a vote of 12-2) approved an ordinance that bans the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in the city.

With only a formality remaining before the ordinance becomes law, Los Angeles will become the largest community in the United States to enact legislation that puts an end to the flow of animals to pet stores from puppy mills, the large commercial breeding farms that supply pet stores.

For the past two and a half years, Best Friends, under the leadership of our Elizabeth Oreck, has been working closely with the offices of the mayor and city attorney, as well as L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz and L.A. Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette to craft an ordinance that effectively shuts down the city of Los Angeles for the sale of these animals.

Los Angeles soon will join 27 other cities in North America, including Toronto and 10 other California communities, in putting a major crimp in the pet store trade. The implications are enormous on so many levels, not the least of which is shutting down retail outlets supplied by these still-legal puppy mills. Additionally, more people will be encouraged to adopt from local shelters rather than purchase from a retail outlet or breeder.

This great success initially gained traction when Councilman Koretz expressed interest in an ordinance that would stop the flow of puppy mill animals into the city. From there, the city attorney’s office, with input from the various parties, chose fair, reasonable language to draft the ordinance.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth marshaled support from across the spectrum of Southern California animal welfare. She sent out legislative alerts to Best Friends members and encouraged them to contact city council members for support. Blogs were written, social media posts sent, and support mobilized to attend the various committee and council meetings.

The goal, of course, was to produce an ordinance that would shrink the market for puppy mill animals and reduce motivation to produce and sell animals. There would also be the net effect of reducing chances that breeding animals spend their lives confined in puppy mill misery, forced to have litter after litter.

Other California cities that have adopted “no retail sale of animals” ordinances are Aliso Viejo, Chula Vista, Dana Point, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, South Lake Tahoe and West Hollywood. Still more California cities have ordinances that have been drafted, with Burbank posed to join the growing group.

Having so many cities adopt such resolutions is good, but having Los Angeles in the fold is by far the most impactful anti–puppy mill accomplishment to date. If Los Angeles can take this kind of step, then other cities may not be far behind.

Passage of the ordinance should also reverberate across the country, and Elizabeth tells us that she is fielding calls from like-minded civic leaders around the country. Chicago, in particular, appears to be the next big municipality to consider such a progressive ordinance.

So, what started as a true grassroots movement by Best Friends Animal Society continues to pick up steam. More communities are coming to the realization that, with city shelters bulging at the seams with homeless animals, it makes good sense to stop the importation of animals that contribute to their shelters’ overcrowded conditions.

“The potential benefits of ordinances that ban the retail sale of commercially bred pets are significant, and it’s not that difficult to get started,” says Elizabeth. “Even if you don’t have puppy mills in your area, you might consider a proactive ordinance that will restrict the sales of animals by unlicensed breeders. It all helps mitigate the puppy mill problem, or other situations that are the byproducts of irresponsible breeding, such as the online sales of animals shipped around the country that, again, put a strain on local shelters.

The long, arduous fight to halt puppy mills and their effects on animals goes on. In recent years, the work has been difficult — at times trying our patience and testing our will. And though the journey continues, this most recent success in Los Angeles surely gives us cause to celebrate and, at the same time, reaffirms our determination to cut the demand for puppy mill inventory off at its source.

Want to get involved with your own anti–puppy mill ordinance? Best Friends has considerable resources to help concerned citizens approach government leaders about a pet sale ordinance. For more information, contact Elizabeth Oreck at


Gregory Castle
CEO, Best Friends Animal Society

  • Sandy

    Amazing accomplishment… and it’s this kind of success that’s contagious. I can’t wait to see cities across the U.S. and Canada make the same ethical, responsible and KIND decision. Way to go everyone!

  • Francesca Gillum

    Bravo Best Friends! God Bless You for your love of our sweet animals!

  • Cindy Miyamoto

    You guys are the best! congrats on such a huge accomplishment

  • This is great news! Great work to all!

    ….on another note, I had hoped to share this on Pinterest also, but the photos related to this news are not pinnable. I however will gladly share this terrific news on Twitter!



  • Jan Keefe, Wag ‘N Woof Pets

    Congratulations, this is awesome news! I have been writing a series about puppy mills on my blog, and I am so happy to be able to share this great news with my readers! I love Best Friends, the work you do is incredible.

  • Very mixed feelings on this one. No sympathy for puppy millers; they’re scum. But pet shops are out in the open and subject to inspection, regulation, enforcement (even if none of these are, at the moment, priorities in most communities). My fear is that shutting down operations where you can see them will potentially drive buyers to less regulated or unregulated markets: backyard breeders, middlemen/brokers, internet sales. Much of that activity will take place where it is unseen and largely unregulated. Not having read the legislation specifically (though I’d like to, is there a link?), is there a provision to lessen the risk of that?

    • Anne

      Pet shops get their “product” from puppy millers. Just because the pet shop puppies are out in the open doesn’t mean a thing. The problem isn’t the pet store, it’s where the puppies come from. In other words, you can’t see a thing from a regulated pet store. All you see are adorable little puppies.

      Driving buyers to another market is a good thing. How about an animal shelter? A rescue group? Even a back yard breeder is better than a puppy miller because the buyer can see where the puppies came from and how they are treated/how they live.

      The point is to dry up the need for a constant supply of cute puppies. If they pet stores can’t sell them – no one needs a bunch of puppies in the window.

      • So an internet seller is better than a pet store? Sorry, no. You see even less than a pet store. Same with a broker, or a well-planned backyard breeder. Driving buyers to a less regulated, less transparent source is not necessarily a good thing.

      • Not true. Very, very few pet shops get puppies from puppy mills and haven’t for over a decade. Many only sell from specific breeders who are basically hobbyists, only producing one litter or less per year. How can an entire city miss the mark on something like this? Your ban accomplished nothing good as you will see.

        • Not true to you. Many pet stores are definitely still getting puppies from internet/puppy mill locations. Know your facts.

          • I live my life according to facts and am passionately opposed to puppy mills. To accomplish what you need to do requires more than just random commentary on the web. This ban is fine but it really wasted a lot of effort. The percentage of retail dog sales that originate from puppy mills is lower than you think. This same effort put toward those remaining pet stores and the puppy mills themselves would have been much better use of limited resources and could have accomplished what still needs to be addressed. Punishing all for the sins of a few just because it’s easier than handling the problem directly is really not something to celebrate. I’m merely trying to redirect this effort to addressing the real issue instead of dancing around it.

        • Sherry, that’s an outright lie.

          • How so? Based on what information? You clearly are misinformed. Even in the heart of the 90s KS/MO puppy mill scandals only 3 stores in KS were actually associated with puppy mills. The myth that all pet stores get puppies from puppy mills is antiquated. Most don’t even carry puppies and haven’t in years. Do your research. Current research.

            Most pet shop puppies come directly from breeders these days. After the puppy mill scandals, stores that sold dogs had to clean up their acts or close. It was the best thing that could have happened to our industry. Forced out the substandard pet shops – without legislation. This change was industry wide. Even the few bad shops who remain and choose to still buy from mills in your state make up only a tiny fraction of retail dog sales. You give your consumers no credit at all.

            10 years ago this legislation may have made a difference. In 2012 it is effort that would have been better spent eliminating the remaining puppy mills directly. I hate to rain on your parade but facts are facts. I’ve done this for 25 years. My store sets the standard for our state and serves as the training site for new inspectors. I work with the state health board and shelters directly. They have done an outstanding job shutting down puppy mills and didn’t need legislation to do it. Our pet stores champion their efforts and support the cause by choice, not force.

            Most responsible pet stores stopped selling dogs a long time ago anyway so we aren’t even affected by these bans. It’s just sad that BFAS didn’t focus this effort somewhere more meaningful. If you don’t want pet stores selling puppy mill dogs then target the few who still do and focus the rest of your limited resources directly on the mills. Don’t punish thousands of responsible breeders and shops for the sins of a few.

    • Elizabeth Oreck

      Hi John – While it is true that some individuals may turn to the Internet or backyard breeders to purchase puppies, we are hoping that most will instead turn to shelters and rescue groups to find their next pet or, if they prefer to buy, to responsible hobby breeders. Over 70,000 animals are euthanized in Los Angeles city and county shelters every year — at taxpayer expense. To continue importing puppies and kittens from mills in other states while we are killing the surplus that are already filling our shelters simply doesn’t make sense.

      You can read the ordinance here:

  • roberta Perlis

    YEY Kudos to LA>

  • Thank you!!!

  • jamz

    This is one huge step. And we all know one step is better than none. Congrats!

  • Stephanie

    Congratulations on such an incredible accomplishment! As a pet owner & rescue volunteer, I think this is a huge step toward ending the killing of so many innocent shelter dogs. Great job!

  • Dog Trainer

    Happy to see puppy mills go but hope this doesn’t put too much financial hardship on those hobby (“backyard”) breeders who work hard at maintaining their breeds’ structural soundness and temperament traits. These are, after all, the very people who maintain the ability for us to have little dogs, non-shedding dogs, dogs who have natural bite inhibition, dogs who don’t have to chase every living thing in sight, dogs with long hair, dogs with short hair, and dogs with reduced tendencies to be fearful or aggressive. Their time and money spent proving that their breeding stock has quality, functioning structure and biddable temperaments will never earn them a profit in puppy sales.

    • Quetzal Pointers

      Under the new proposed federal legislation we hobby breeders will be defined as retail outlets unless the buy comes onto our property if they contact us by phone or internet we will fall under this law and will no longer be able to sell our puppies. Please don’t fall for the feel good vibes of this story. All this will do is cut out law abiding citizens and leave you will black market puppy mills.

      • Take it up with the “hobby” breeders that don’t follow humane protocols. I have a neighbor at the end of my street breeding pointers. He has flown under the radar until one of his poor breeding mamas got loose. My husband found her running on the adjacent busy street with a clothes line trailing from her neck (He keeps these poor dogs tied up in his backyard). We took her to the shelter. They contacted her owner from the tag on her collar and he came (3 days later) to get her. Refused to spay her of course, so, had to pay the breeders license, which he has up to now avoided. He lied to the shelter staff and said he didn’t have any other dogs. Every merchant pays tax, permits and fees. Breeders should be no exception. It took me 3 months to get Animal Reg to finally visit his house and nail him for the other dogs in his yard.

      • mrspenguin

        I’m not sure how “hobby breeders” not being able to sell their puppies is a problem at all.

        These aren’t “feel good vibes”, this is a true victory. Congrats to everyone involved!

      • emmelby

        Do you not ordinarily meet the people you sell puppies to?

        • frankie1964

          Apparently not. Boo hiss.

      • Not sorry for you at all. You’ve not self-regulated. “Hobby breeders” can be every bit as abusive as the mills.

      • Elizabeth Oreck

        Hi Quetzal Pointers – This ordinance for the city of Los Angeles should not be confused with the USDA’s proposal to bring internet sellers into compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and require the same licensing and inspections as those breeders who sell their animals wholesale. In fact, the USDA has proposed to increase the exemption for hobby breeders from 3 unaltered females to 4, so the USDA proposal shouldn’t impact you at all, unless you have 5 or more unaltered females. The L.A. ordinance refers only to pet stores supplied by commercial breeders, not to responsible hobby breeders, who never sell their animals to pet stores.

    • I think you’ll find that the LA shelters are putting down small dogs with spectacular qualities on a very regular basis.

    • sara volk

      Those folks never make money anyway. Most do it for the love of the breed and to improve a specific breed. That is an expensive proposition.

      • Anne

        Puppy mill owners don’t do it for the love of the breed, they do it for the love of money. These are the people who must stop producing animals that wind up in shelters by the thousands.

        • Which is why this effort should be focused on puppy mills, not pet stores. Get to the source.

          • Gracie

            Get a grip! Where do you think those cute pet store puppies come from? Reputable breeders want to meet the people who buy their pups, they don’t sell them in pet stores. Also kudos to those pet stores that host adoption clinics instead of selling puppies.

          • Even years back when many pet stores were selling puppies most of us knew the breeders personally because they weren’t even breeders, per se. 100% of the puppies we had in the 80s and early 90s were either left in a box on our doorstep or from local residents who had one litter on occasion. I bought the whole litter at once in order to keep them together longer. Since you are not a pet store owner you truly are not in a position to make assumptions sound like statements. Relatively speaking there are a small percentage of pet stores still selling puppies from mills. Those are the stores you should be going after, along with the puppy mills themselves.

    • Elizabeth Oreck

      Hi Dog Trainer – This will actually drive business to responsible hobby breeders (not to be confused with backyard breeders, who are breeding irresponsibly and without oversight), because the people who choose not to adopt will still have the option to buy from those folks doing it right.

  • Weezi

    Great job, some day we will have No More Puppy Mills, and that’s a very good thing!!

    • Claudia

      I sure hope so !!!

  • gypsywoman

    Fantastic! Congratulations on such a great accomplishment. I would LOVE to see that happen in South Florida where our stray/abandoned dogs are a huge problem and the shelters are so overwhelmed, there is no need for retail pet outlets! Yeah Best Friends!!

  • Elizabeth Peterson

    Thank God…let’s work on San Diego next.

    • Claudia

      ….and everywhere else =)

  • Marcella Rosato

    Absolutely terrific! The animals love you

  • hayne

    great work! another small step towards animal liberation!

  • Elizabeth Oreck

    Please contact the city council to thank them for supporting this. They need to hear from you!

  • I’m so proud of you guys! Congratulations on helping enact such an important ordinance!

  • Quetzal Pointers

    Sick. Where do you suppose you will get your loving companion after you put breeders out of buisness, spay and neuter all animals and the current adoption population died out from age?

    • If you actually read the article closely, you’ll see that it bans the sale of commercially bred animals and unlicensed breeders.

      • dog-lover

        Poorly written article if that is what it is trying to say —

      • Quetzal Pointers

        So a licensed mass breeder that churns out hundreds of dogs a year is totally fine but a responsible hobby breeder who has a litter every few years is a villain?
        With the new proposed legislation for me to be a licensed breeder I will have to kick all my dogs outside to a concrete kennel block with cages. Isn’t that the kind of environment you ARA’S are fighting against?

        • Michael

          You’re confusing your legislation. This legislation bans retail sales of puppies. There is no longer a need for you to mass produce puppies for retail sale. There is no mention of breeder definitions or concrete blocks. That is another piece of legislation. Go fight that one.

    • Quetzal Pointers

      Still no one wants to answer the question? I have yet to have an ARA answer this question.

      • FourPaws

        When United States animal shelters are empty and out of business, then this question will be answered. Until then, there is no reason for anyone to be breeding dogs and cats when millions, MILLIONS, of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized every year. End of story.

      • Michael

        And really, Quetzal Pointers, if you don’t consider yourself an ARA why are you in the business of breeding animals? Don’t ALL your Pointer puppies deserve to have a good life?

    • Caitlin

      To even imagine that there would one day be a shortage of companion animals some day in the future is laughable, but also something we can all dream of. For pets to be treated as a privilege, given real value, and be DIFFICULT to acquire would be an incredible accomplishment for our society. Unfortunately, people like you still see them as “products” or commodities that are to be sold for income. Animals are not a BUSINESS, as you suggest.

      • FourPaws

        Exactly! Well said!!

    • frankie1964

      Yeah, that’ll happen…

    • Michael

      We put **thousands** upon **thousands** of dogs to death each year because nobody wants them. There will be no shortage of loving companion animals just because we cut back on the breeding/your profits.

  • Absolutely fantastic!!!!!!

  • I can only imagine how much work went into this! Thank you for being such a strong voice for the speechless!

  • Stella Blue

    Great work!

  • Congratulations to all of those who made this happen. Now if the rest of the nation can follow suit we will not only see the reduction in puppy mills but a much improved level of understanding what it means to own and care for another living creature. Responsible ownership doesn’t support animal factories.

  • Elizabeth Oreck

    A great day for animals, indeed, but also for all of the amazing, inspiring animal welfare advocates in L.A. and beyond who have been working so tirelessly on behalf of those animals. It really does take a village!