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Buying that bunny or turtle on an L.A. street may be outlawed


There's a lot for sale in downtown L.A.'s Fashion District, where shoppers brave crowds to hunt cheap fabric and knock-off jeans, shoes and purses.

On some street corners, other bargains are advertised in crowded plastic cages.

The sidewalk sale of small turtles, birds and bunnies is an underground sales sector that has gotten out of hand, city officials say. On Wednesday they will consider a new law that would make buying such animals illegal.

The proposed law, which must be approved by the Los Angeles City Council, calls for penalties of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third.

Officials hope it will help dissuade shoppers from buying the animals, many of which are malnourished and too young when they're taken away from their mothers to be sold at Santee Alley downtown, or in Chinatown or Venice Beach.

The proposed ordinance comes at a time when state lawmakers have also sought to stiffen the penalties against illegal animal vendors.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that bans the sale of animals on street corners and sets tougher penalties for those convicted of animal abuse or cruelty.


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-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: A box of unweaned rabbits confiscated Easter Sunday 2010 in a downtown parking garage. Credit: Lejla Hadzimuratovic

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