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PROPOSED CITY ORDINANCE RETAIL PET SALES

In late October, City leaders passed into law a recommendation from Animal Care Services (ACS) that ensures retail pet stores only sell pets from responsible sources and not puppy mills. To make sure San Antonio residents have the facts about this new ordinance, below are a set of inaccurate statements and claims you may have heard regarding this new regulation. Included is the correct information about each.

Fiction

New retail pet sales regulations are intended to put pet stores out of business.

Fact

The intent of these regulations is not to cause pet stores to close. Instead, ACS wants to make sure dogs and cats involved in breeding and sales in San Antonio are treated humanely. Contrary to many cities who have completely banned the retail sale of dogs and cats, this ordinance change encourages local businesses to be profitable by allowing these businesses to continue to sell pets, but from responsible and humane sources.

As an example, approximately five years ago ACS partnered with a local pet store who transitioned away from selling puppy mill pets and began selling rescued dogs and cats. Today, this organization is more profitable than it was prior to their decision to stop selling puppy mill pets. Across the nation there are countless examples of retail pet stores who have chosen (or have been required) to change their business model away from sourcing puppy mill pets and were able to do so successfully.

Fiction

This ordinance will put responsible breeders out of business.

Fact

The ordinance change does not prohibit responsible breeders from doing business in San Antonio. Local breeders will still be able to operate within the City limits provided they obtain the necessary City permits and are caring for the pets in accordance with our community’s humane laws.

Responsible breeders understand the importance of humane animal husbandry and are truly invested in the pet’s care and well-being; both before and after the sale of one of their puppies. A responsible breeder’s prospective buyers are and have always been the general public, not retail pet stores.

Fiction

These regulations will hurt small local businesses who sell pets out of their own homes.

Fact

Individuals selling dogs and cats out of their own homes can continue to breed and sell pets responsibly by applying for litter and sellers permits through ACS – these proposed regulations do not change that process.

Fiction

ACS intentionally limited the distribution of surveys to make sure they got a certain result.

Fact

The goal for ACS’s first survey was to get the maximum number of responses possible, while the goal of the second survey was to make sure all Council Districts were represented in the results. Over 3,000 responses were received for the first survey while over 1,000 responses were received for the second. Residents were invited to respond to both surveys through advertisements and announcements in traditional media (KSAT, WOAI, KABB, KENS 5, Telemundo 60, SA Express News, etc.), and digital media (Instagram, Facebook, ACS website, SASpeakUp website, Nextdoor, etc.). While ACS email distribution lists and in-person ACS outreach events were also utilized to obtain feedback, all other efforts were used to ensure broad representation across San Antonio residents.

Fiction

These regulations will limit consumer choices.

Fact

Residents of San Antonio will still be able to purchase whatever dog or cat they choose. Whether they get their new pet through a responsible private breeder, retail pet store, rescue group, or animal shelter, these proposed regulations will provide confidence that the pets involved were well cared for and subject to humane conditions through the breeding and selling process.

Fiction

ACS did not take into consideration the positions of local retail pet stores.

Fact

ACS wants local pet stores to remain profitable which is why ACS is not recommending the very common ordinance language that would ban retail pet sales. Instead, the proposed ordinance will allow pet stores to sell pets from a number of approved sources.

Fiction

Local retail pet stores know their breeders and can police their own industry.

Fact

The current source of retail pet store pets coming into San Antonio is of great concern to many national animal welfare groups including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Many local pet stores obtain their pets from a “puppy broker” who serves as a middleman between far-away puppy mills and local pet stores. Some of these puppy brokers or breeders are being sued due to their use of “unlawful business practices, including but not limited to unfair practices, deception, fraud, false pretense, false promises, and misrepresentations against customers” according to HSUS.

Fiction

Changing what type of pets stores are allowed to sell will disproportionately hurt communities of color since those communities struggle to obtain pets through rescue agencies.

Fact

This unfounded and nonsensical statement serves only to distract from the real issues of humane treatment of animals and incorrectly attempts to take advantage of the City’s goal to be equitable in its service delivery. It is hard to understand how the inhumane breeding of puppies being brokered and sold commercially across the country in local pet stores at prices that often exceed $2,000 per pet is an equitable solution for any underserved community member.

Fiction

Retail pet stores get puppies from USDA licensed breeders with no direct violations.

Fact

Minimum USDA requirements for dog and cat breeders are below the acceptable humane standards established in San Antonio. For instance, the USDA only requires six inches of additional kenneling space beyond the size of the animal. This means it is legal according to the USDA for pets being bred to spend their entire life in cages that are only big enough for the animal to turn around in.

Fiction

Mandating that pet stores provide animals from unregulated sources is irresponsible and an insurance nightmare just waiting to happen.

Fact

The proposed regulations do not require retail pet stores to continue selling pets. There is no mandate to sell pets, and ACS encourages businesses to ensure they have proper insurance coverage based upon their business needs. The proposed regulations simply make sure that retail pet stores who do continue selling pets obtain those pets from responsible sources.

Fiction

Forcing consumers to obtain pets with questionable health and temperament puts the consumer’s health and safety at risk.

Fact

Residents will still be able to choose whether to own a pet, what type, and from where, the same as they always have – including from breeders if they are interested in a specific breed. For those residents who decide to purchase a pet from a retail pet store, the proposed regulations require the pet store to provide the buyer with (among other things) a record of medication and vaccine administration, a guarantee of good health for a minimum of two weeks, and the contact information of the organization the dog of cat came from in case the buyer has additional questions.