In a big victory for animals, the City of San Antonio voted to prohibit the sale in pet stores of animals from "puppy mills," aka commercially raised puppies and kittens from breeders.
As of January 1, 2021, pet stores in San Antonio will be able to sell cats and dogs only obtained from shelters, animal rescue groups, or animal control agencies.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the battle in San Antonio was "especially hard-fought." As is frequently the case with animal legislation in Texas, Petland and other pet stores hired lobbyists to oppose it. Most of the public comments in opposition were from out of state.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg spoke in favor, saying that his family owned dogs that were previously abused by puppy mill breeders. "I have, for the last six years, been waiting for this," he said.
Puppy mills breed more than two million puppies every year. A USDA-licensed commercial dog breeder is legally allowed to keep a dog in a small cage for years. The cage only has to be six inches longer than the dog's body. She can be bred every heat cycle and then killed when she is no longer able to have puppies.
Puppies from puppy mills are transported long distances from states such as Pennsylvania while babies still have immature immune systems. According to the HSUS, San Antonio residents have filed dozens of online complaints about buying puppy-mill animals who were sick with kennel cough, giardia, parvovirus, and congenital problems.
San Antonio's Animal Care Services surveyed residents earlier in the year on how they felt about prohibiting the sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in pet stores and found that between 60 and 70 percent of those surveyed were in support.
More than 370 localities and three states have already legislated similar bans, including five municipalities in Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, The Colony, El Paso, and Waco. Why not Dallas?
San Antonio's ban won't affect stores outside the city, nor private sales, but a statement from HSUS says that the longterm goal is to gradually make puppy mills and commercial breeding a less viable industry.
"We are seeing terrific momentum in the fight against puppy mills because consumers are increasingly growing aware of the terrible conditions these operations keep their animals in, profiting off them while denying them the most basic care," their statement says.