O’Malley Proposes Ban on Sales of Dogs, Cats and Rabbits in Boston Pet Stores

On Monday Jamaica Plain’s City Councilor Matt O’Malley will announce a city ordinance dubbed “the puppy mill bill” that would prohibit pet shops in Boston from selling dogs, cats or rabbits, as well as banning animal sales in public parks and on city streets.

O’Malley will make the announcement at the MSPCA-Angell in Jamaica Plain.

“I am proud to introduce this ordinance that will not only protect animals, but seeks to prevent financial and emotional costs to the city and its residents, and demonstrate that it is important for Boston foster a more humane environment in the city,” said O’Malley through a press release.

If the ordinance becomes Boston law, the city would join more than 120 municipalities across the country that banned the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs from pet shops. Oftentimes these puppies and kittens come from large-scale breeding facilities, many of which have multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Nelson the Shar-pei/pug mix was bought online in Missouri and shipped to Massachusetts. He ended up needing emergency medical care at the MSPCA.

Nelson the Shar-pei/pug mix was bought online in Missouri and shipped to Massachusetts. He ended up needing emergency medical care at the MSPCA.

Puppy and kitten mill animals often have severe problems due to not receiving proper veterinary care and often aren’t given sufficient food, water or shelter. They are often overbred or inbred, which leads to serious biological consequences. This past December the MSPCA took in a Shar-pei/pug mix, Nelson, who was bought online, shipped from Missouri to Massachusetts by truck; He arrived in the state so ill he required emergency veterinary intervention. After receiving medical care for several weeks, Nelson was eventually adopted to a new home.

“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of rabbits surrendered to our Boston adoption center—a 50 percent rise in the last year alone—due in part to continued rabbit sales in pet stores, too many of which end up homeless,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy, MSPCA-Angell. “We applaud this legislation and urge the city to pass it without delay.”

The ordinance would also prevent “roadside sales” of animals, which as of now, people can just sell dogs or cats on the street without any regulations. These types of sales often result in people who are not responsibly breeding animals and looking to make a quick profit selling animals in public parks or on sidewalks and streets, leaving no recourse for residents if the animal becomes sick or exhibits other problems caused from poor breeding practices.

District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley

City of Boston

District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley

O’Malley made it clear that the ordinance “will not affect a consumer’s ability to obtain a dog, cat or rabbit of his or her choice directly from a shelter, rescue organization, or a breeder.”

Other animal-related organizations praised the proposed ordinance.

“We are increasingly seeing underage, unvaccinated puppies and kittens being sold on street corners. This practice is purely for profit and does not protect the wellbeing of animals or the public health. This ordinance is an important step forward to put in place some regulations to prohibit this harmful practice,” said Lt. Alan Borgal, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Law Enforcement Department.

“Many consumers don’t realize that most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, where profits are given priority over the well-being of the dogs,” said Bill Ketzer, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. “The inherently cruel conditions found at these operations are legal under federal law, which the USDA regularly fails to enforce. Consumers and pet stores can obtain wonderful, loving animals from shelters and other humane sources without supporting the cruel puppy mill industry. The ASPCA applauds Councilor O’Malley for introducing this measure, which is a home run for animal welfare, consumer protection and public health in Boston.”

  • James

    Thank you, Mr. O’Malley, you sound like a sensible, compassionate person.

    • cindy hoff

      No offense to Mr. Omalley but I don’t think he’s done his homework. If he were compassionate, he would care to keep animal welfare at the forefront of his decision and thathe is not the case in any petstore ban.

  • grateful

    Thank you Matt for proposing this much needed ban. I applaud your efforts! !

  • return

    Love it!

  • mewillie

    There is no sense to what O’Malley proposes. When asked to define a “puppy mill” at his press conference, he could not answer. Those posing the question got kicked out. What’s that all about?

    • Doris

      In my opinion the only reason someone would be against a law banning puppy mills is because they have financial interests in the exploitation and sale of mistreated and abused animals.

      • Scott

        Maybe it’s general opposition to the spotlight hog seeking attention for a non-issue.

      • mewillie

        Think you just described half the rescues and humane organizations in the area. Additionally, nobody is against banning a true puppy mill. Trouble is, the Animal Rights zealots have twisted the definition to include upstanding commercial and hobby breeders.

  • Lucysowner

    The author talks about MSPCA having a sick dog that was bought online in their shelter. Um, what has this got to do with pet stores? When I was a child we had several pet store rabbits as pets. They were great and lived quite a while. Today, people don’t know how to take care of animals. MSPCA used to give classes long ago to children on how to take care of pets. Not any more.

    • James

      Not too difficult to grasp, I think. Pet stores are quite content to sell the damaged animals to an unsuspecting/uninformed public. By removing them from the equation fewer animals can be sold, which means less incentive for the mills to continue to produce them, and the mills will shut down.

      • Scott

        What pet stores in Boston sell dogs?

    • Jamie

      Why get a rabbit from a pet store if you can give a shelter pet a new home? That’s partly what this is trying to address….Reduce demand from pet stores, and you might actually take care of the ones that have no homes…There are so many rabbits at the mspca…

  • Monster

    I understand banning unlicensed roadside yokels from selling animals. I don’t quite understand why it would be exceedingly difficult to improve regulation of breeding practices at legitimate businesses.

  • Monster

    I guess I don’t really get it. Isn’t a breeder fundamentally a kind of “pet store?” They produce pets and sell them. The solution seems to be in better regulating the production side of the industry, not in regulating the retail side.

  • Akita Mom

    I just read this and its doesn’t make sense… You say its a ban on puppy mill dogs and cats and rabbits but isn’t that where all the “shelters” and “rescues” get there animals from?? Also they say about how the shar pei puppy was bought online , what’s that have to do with pet stores??? And did the MSPCA charge a fee for the sharpei when they found him a new home? Isn’t that selling the pup like a pet shop would? It seems like Mr. O’Malley might need to do his own research about this stuff first, and not take some one else’s word about it.

    • Doris

      Perhaps you too would benefit from doing a little research. You can begin by proper spelling of pronouns – I think you meant “their” not “there.” Then you can explore where shelter and rescue animals come from, rather than make silly, uninformed guesses.

      • Akita Mom

        But I have done my research, that’s why I felt I needed to comment.

        • return

          You did your research but still asked questions easily answered on the mspca’s website or by calling them? Ok.

        • Doris

          Honestly are you three years old? I don’t believe you did ANY research. If you had then you would know that pet stores get animals from puppy mills. If pet stores can’t sell animals the market for the sick and abused animals from puppy mills will start to dry up. If the puppy mills have no market they go out of business. I’m sure the MSPCA would be happy to no longer be in the rescue business, but unfortunately with uncaring ignorant people still supporting puppy mills and such they will probably be in the business for a long time. What kind of evil person is pro puppy mill?

    • return

      The shelter doesn’t get the rescues from puppy mills – it’s possible that they may have at one point come from one as the original owner got the animal from there but the shelter does not directly get animals from pet shops, mills, etc. They get them from people surrendering animals – due to a person dying, moving and can’t take pet, finding a stray/abandoned animal, pet being more work than they expected, not getting along with family, and many other reasons.

      Nelson was bought online from a puppy mill.

      You do pay an adoption fee when you adopt an animal from the shelter but it is basically the cost of shots, spay/neuter, vet checkup, etc. The shelter may be connected to the hospital but they still have to pay for hospital care. Nelson’s new owners most likely did have to pay an adoption fee like any other adoption but it wasn’t even close to the amount of the cost to save the dog’s life which was the reason he was surrendered to begin with.

      As Doris suggested, you clearly need to do research about animal shelters. I suspect that Mr. O’Malley did.

    • Jamie

      Rescues generally get their animals from the southern states and the caribbean, actually. Down there, they often don’t neuter or spay their pets, so they breed wildly, get surrendered to kill shelters, and shelters up here try to claim as many adoptable pets as they have room for to save them.

  • cindy hoff

    Wake up people, when you “ban” something in todays world they find another way to obtain it. The internet will flourish and the checks and balances will be eliminated, anyone with half a brain knows this to be true. Unintended consequences should be thought about first and foremost as putting better regulations in place and follow through would ensure animal welfare much more so than to eliminate a legal inspected channel to pet ownership. Do you really think people are going to fly across the country to a breeders home and buy their puppy that way??? Think people!!

    • Doris

      And you know this to be true? Are you saying you have only half a brain?

  • kenjim01

    You are my hero! Can you run for Senator now???

  • Walburga

    I agree with the concept that Mr. O’Malley proposes, but I am concerned that the language is a little vague and may overstep what he is trying to accomplish. The comment earlier that stated that he was not able to define a puppy mill suggests that this may be a good start to a worthwhile endeavor, but additional work will need to be done to ensure that it is only banning the sale of animals from “mills” rather than other humanely bred pets.

  • Scott

    I googled high and low and can’t find any stores in Boston that sell dogs or cats. Aside from the store selling rabbits that is cited can anyone point to a store that will be affected by this?

    “Massachusetts law requires that all pet shops be licensed,
    and have adequate housing, feeding socialization, and veterinary care
    for dogs. Pet shops are inspected annually by the Division of Animal
    Health and must provide customers with a dog’s complete medical record
    at the time of purchase. If the puppy gets sick within 14 days of
    purchase, or is found to have some kind of disease or congenital
    disorder, the pet can be returned to the shop with a veterinarian’s
    note.”

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