Best Friends Blog

Ban on sale of puppies in L.A.

This week, the city of Los Angeles took another huge step toward becoming No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA). Back in November, the city council passed an ordinance outlawing the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits by pet stores unless those animals are sourced from 501(c)(3) rescue groups and shelters. This week, the grace period allowed in the law expired, and the ban is now in effect. Any store found to be in violation may be fined up to $1,000 for the third violation. We’re glad to see there will be serious consequences for violating the ordinance.

This is important for a variety of reasons. The obvious one is that it cuts into the bottom line of the cruel puppy mill business. Less obvious is the fact that these animals will no longer be flooding the L.A. consumer market and will be replaced by shelter and recue pets who would otherwise likely die in an area shelter. It’s a win-win for the animals.

The journey to get here took some time, a lot of energy, and a fair amount of heartache, but boy has it been worth it! Under the leadership of our national manager of puppy mill initiatives, Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends began demonstrating outside pet stores across Los Angeles in December of 2007. The campaign was simple. On the one hand, we sought to educate consumers to help them understand just exactly where that cute puppy in the window came from. On the other, we worked with the stores to transition to a humane model pet store that helped them to become part of the solution.

From the get-go, the campaign was a success. Tens of thousands of Angelinos had their eyes opened to the horrors of puppy mills. Some stores saw the greener grass and converted to a humane model. It was great to see the victories pile up, but this wasn’t enough to stop the puppy mill multi-million dollar industry. We needed more action on a greater level more quickly. And, as we first reported to you last year, Los Angeles was looking to follow the lead of other municipalities by totally outlawing the sale of pets from mills.

City councilman Paul Koretz introduced the first motion in June of 2011, with Best Friends’ Elizabeth Oreck working closely with the council on the language. It was strongly supported across the board, even gaining support from the editorial board of the L.A. Times. More than 30 cities and towns now have this kind of law on the books, but Los Angeles is by far the largest.

It’s a heavy message to the mills across the country that this kind of profiting from cruelty will no longer be tolerated in today’s society. We’re thrilled to see the momentum this issue has, even without any support from industry giants, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). We’ll fight this fight without them through America’s democratic process. We are confident that when an educated American public is presented with a choice, they will do the right thing.

Together, we can Save Them All.


Julie Castle
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Verónica Zárate

    This sounds so great but after reading the ordinance I have what is probably a dumb question. Is it only for stores that are within the boundaries of the CITY of Los Angeles or those that are within the county as well? I was shocked to walk into a pet store that sold puppies this past weekend in Burbank (Peggy Wood’s Pet Emporium) and it was awful. Smelled like urine, just awful and I wanted to report them but started second guessing myself because I was unsure how far reaching the ordinance was. BTW, keep doing your great work! I see your adoption events all over the city all the time. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Hi Veronica,

      Yes, this ordinance only applies to pet stories within Los Angeles city limits, but the good news is that we’re working hard to pass similar ordinances in surrounding cities. Just this week, we were able to help get a ban passed on the sale of non-rescue dogs, cats and rabbits in San Diego! Thanks so much for caring about homeless pets and for joining us in the fight against puppy mills.

      Melissa Miller
      New Media Coordinator
      Best Friends Animal Society

  • This is really wonderful! Thank you all for your tremendous efforts toward making this possible. Though I’m now in Northern California, I happily rescued both of my mutts in LA!

  • teina

    Fantastic! I’m so grateful to hear this news and I’m glad to hear that it includes kittens and rabbits. I know there is a long way to go, but I have also seen ‘mills’ closing in PA. I’m encouraged.

  • Shin

    How do we report a pet store in violation?

    • Elizabeth Oreck

      Hi Shin,
      You can report any store that is not complying with the ordinance to L.A. Animal Services General Manager, Brenda Barnette, at

  • rhonered

    Does anyone know if this law prohibits the sale of rabbits in outdoor markets such as Santee Alley, where unweaned babies are sold as “teacup rabbits”?

    • Elizabeth Oreck

      It is already illegal both to sell and buy animals on public streets, including Santee Alley, which was the impetus for that ordinance to be enacted. If you see violations, you should report them to L.A. Animal Services.

  • Melissa

    that’s great, really! But why does the fine only come after the THIRD violation?? How about after the FIRST?!?! ZERO TOLERANCE!

    I guess its better than nothing and its a step in the right direction!

    • Elizabeth Oreck

      There is a fine with the first violation, too. It increases with each subsequent violation. The first violation is $250, second is $500, the 3rd is $1,000.

  • Cailleach Buidseach

    What fantastic news! I wonder where the “celebrities” will go to buy their pocket pets now? I hope this doesn’t just drive internet sales up. If only people like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians (among others) would stand up against purchasing puppies and kittens, then their MILLIONS of Twitter followers would follow their lead….. Still, this is a VICTORY!

  • Anonymous

    Great news. Thank you.