On December 14, Sydney Cicourel and members of animal activist group San Diego Stop Puppy Mills urged La Mesa city councilmembers to pass an ordinance prohibiting pet stores from buying dogs and cats from non-shelter sources, such as breeders and puppy mills.
Back in February 2009, Cicourel and her pack started spending their Saturdays holding picket signs outside Pet Works pet store in the Grossmont Center. In November, the group approached La Mesa city council asking them to adopt an ordinance similar to one implemented in West Hollywood.
During her presentation to councilmembers, Cicourel testified that "100 percent" of dogs for sale at Pet Works came from puppy mills in the Midwest, many of which have health and behavioral conditions. Pet Works has since gone out of business.
Joshua McIntosh, a Marine Corps veteran, said he purchased a Boston Terrier at Pet Works in August. The six-month-old pooch was later diagnosed with Hepatitis and pulmonary hypertension. "She's a six-month-old puppy. She should not be in this condition."
Once public comment had concluded, councilmembers expressed concern that the ordinance was intrusive and overreaching.
"Are we looking into rules and regulations about how chickens are handled? How cats are handled? We're stepping in," said councilmember Erwin Ewin. "What's going to be next?"
"This feels like a red herring, like a distraction. I think the city has a responsibility to stop animal cruelty," responded Cicourel.
"It breaks your heart," said vice mayor Ruth Sterling. "But, I'm not sure that this is the place to start," said Vice Mayor Ruth Sterling. "It's a quandary. The republican side of me doesn't like to say 'you can't sell this or you can't sell that.' I agree that something needs to be done."
Mayor Art Madrid then presented a motion to direct staff to look into the issue and find a way to prohibit local pet stores from selling dogs from puppy mills back to the city council. The motion passed five to zero.