SAN DIEGO (CNS and KGTV) - The San Diego Humane Society announced Thursday that its Humane Law Enforcement division conducted a one-day sweep of pet stores and issued more than 100 citations for violations of a partial state ban on the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.
Assembly Bill 485, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, requires pet stores to get their animals from a partnered shelter or rescue center in an effort to curb the sale of pets from so-called puppy mills and kitten factories that breed animals for sale en masse, often in inhumane conditions.
Humane Law Enforcement officers issued 39 citations to Broadway Puppies and 38 to Bark Avenue, both located in Escondido, for failing to provide a documented agreement with a public or private animal shelter or rescue organization, according to Humane Society spokeswoman Dariel Walker. Officers also issued 25 citations to Pups & Pets in Santee for improper signage on the cages holding its available animals, she said.
10News spoke to Mindy Patterson, Co-President of "The Cavalry Group," an organization that represents animal businesses. One of their members is Broadway Puppies in Escondido. Patterson said AB485 treats legitimate pet stores unfairly.
"To mandate that a store is required to obtain and source their animals for sale, from a specific source is unconstitutional," Patterson said. "All I know is that our members are in accordance with the law."
Patterson said she wants the public to recognize the difference between illegitimate backyard breeders and USDA-certified breeders. She said both of them are often lumped into the same negative category of "puppy mills."
"They are licensed, regulated and regularly inspected facilities that meet very stringent standards," Patterson said.
Cavalry Group co-founder Mark Patterson said the store "and its parent organization are faithfully following the letter of the law in this case and will be exonerated of these citations. Other pet stores in San Diego County have been subject to similar harassment by SDHS only to have the citations dismissed in court."
Representatives of the other two pet stores could not immediately be reached for comment on the citations, which were issued during a countywide sweep Wednesday of pet stores under the Humane Society's purview.
Last July, the county's Department of Animal Services ceded nearly all countywide animal control duties to the Humane Society, except unincorporated areas of the county that are served by the department's shelters in Carlsbad and Bonita.
"My advice is beware," said Humane Law Enforcement Officer Allen Villasenor. "As a brand-new law takes effect, people will use different methods to try to circumvent the law and at this point it's our job to make sure everything is in compliance. I always suggest looking into shelters first, go to the adoption agencies first and see if you can find the right fit for your family there."
Residents can report possible violations of the state pet sale laws by calling the Humane Society's Law Enforcement division at 619-299-7012.