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A city council committee is taking the lead in an effort to outlaw pet shops from selling companion animals that were bred in high volume breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills, catteries, and rabbit mills.

On Wednesday, the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee will discuss a proposal from the Companion Animal Protection Society to stop the mills in their tracks.

The draft ordinance comes six months after city council members in Los Angeles banned the sale of puppy mill pets, becoming the largest city in the nation to target commercial breeding facilities.

Mass-breeding facilities, many of which are located in the midwest, have come under fire in recent years after numerous complaints of malnourishment, mistreatment, and lengthy confinement to small soiled cages without fresh air and light.

The draft ordinance claims that many of these animals end up abandoned in county animal shelters.

As a result, San Diego has a surplus of companion animals," reads the March 19 report. "The 2011-2012 intake rate for these shelters was 25,723 dogs and 20,794 cats. These shelters euthanized approximately 8,201 dogs and 8,998 cats in 2011-2012."

...According to CAPS and the Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”), American consumers purchase dogs and cats from pet stores believing that these animals are healthy and genetically sound. In reality, these animals often face an array of health problems, including communicable diseases and genetic disorders that present immediately after sale or that do not surface until several years later, all of which lead to costly veterinary bills and resulting in financial and emotional distress to consumers. Some of these animals die within days, weeks or months of purchase, causing emotional distress to consumers, especially those whose children immediately bonded with the new addition to the family.

Undercover investigations of retail pet stores nationwide have revealed that nearly half of the pet shops visited had animals that showed visible signs of illness, injury, or neglect, and nearly half of the stores also sold animals showing clear symptoms of psychological distress.

One such investigation conducted by the animal rights group involved San Diego Puppy, San Diego's only pet shop owned by David Salinas.

He allegedly kept puppies in conditions just as deplorable as the puppy mills he still uses to supply his current venture. A CAPS investigation of his online business began after numerous consumer complaints. Costumers reported paying thousands of dollars in vet bills from preventable diseases common among puppy mill dogs. Three of these complaints were for puppies diagnosed with Parvovirus, two of which tragically died. Salinas, according to complaints, sold dogs that misrepresented the breed advertised and often refused to give customers detailed information about the breeders. To make matters worse, there were allegations that Salinas purchased and may still purchase dogs from Mexico. The Department of Animal Services confirmed that Salinas has crossed the border with puppies, which further intensifies the suspicion.

Salinas, however, says that this is not the case and the there was never any formal investigation and his company has never received any violations that the non-profit group accused him of in the report. "The so-called investigation is completely fabricated," Salinas said in a phone interview. "We do not do business with puppy mills and we refuse to ever do so. These people are animal rights activists similar to [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] and they want to shut down any and all pet shops, not just San Diego Puppy."

Salinas says that protesters have harassed him and his employees at their store and have even followed him to church.

"I agree that puppy mills need to be stopped. I don't agree that shutting down responsible businesses such as mine is the way to do that. All of our breeders are inspected by the USDA, the AKC, and Animal Control. I post pictures on our website so people can see where their puppy came from.

"Every breeder we've worked with was is ethical, responsible, and puppies are in excellent home raised environments."

If passed, the proposed ordinance would ban pet shops from displaying, selling, or giving away dogs, cats and other animals in the City of San Diego as well as outlaw any "roadside pet sales." Recommended fines would start from $250 for the first violation and go up to $1,000 for the third violation.

Salinas says he plans to speak at the May 1 hearing.

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