Proposed city ordinance would place ban on pet store sales of dogs from breeders

Supporters say new regulations would keep dogs from “puppy mills” being sold in San Antonio pet stores

To crack down on the sale of puppies from so called "puppy mills," the San Antonio City Council is looking at taking a step to outlaw stores selling puppies from breeders.

San Antonio – A proposed city ordinance would place new restrictions on the sale of cats and dogs in San Antonio pet stores, forbidding them to sell dogs acquired from breeders.

The ordinance, which the city council will take up on Oct. 29, would only permit pet stores in the city limits to sell cats and dogs obtained through animal rescue organizations, city or county animal shelters, or animal control agencies.

The minimum penalty for first time pet sale violations would also go up from $100 to $500.

Supporters see it as a way to push back against large, commercial dog-breeding businesses, often referred to as “puppy mills."

While city ordinances prevent the existence of large-scale breeding operations within the city limits, Katie Jarl, the regional director of the Humane Society of the United States, says puppies from these types of businesses still end up in San Antonio pet stores.

“These animals are born into cruel and unsanitary conditions taken from their mothers too early and put on trucks to be shipped to San Antonio from states like Iowa and Missouri,” Jarl said.

Once here, the dogs can fetch a high price thanks to the demand for their breeds.

Royal Pet Palace owner Jessica Loven said the market for a puppy is currently “about $2,500 to $3,000.”

Loven gets her dogs, which come from several states, through brokers and breeders. She defended the quality of the breeders she uses, though, and dismissed the possibility of changing her business model to fit the new requirements for sourcing the dogs.

Instead, she’s considering a move, whether to a completely new locale or just somewhere just outside the city limits.

“So it’s not necessarily going to get rid of us, but it’s just going to move us outside of the city limit,” Loven said.

ACS Director Heber Lefgren said the city doesn’t oppose “humane” breeding practices.

Breeders will still continue to breed," Lefgren said, "but they must follow the humane breeding practices and obtain the required sellers permit and breeding permit that’s associated with that.”

Current city code require owners to get a “litter permit” before the birth of any litter, and selling even one animal requires a "seller’s permit.”

City code requires sterilization for violations of either section.

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About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.