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

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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.

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.”

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