L.A. Unleashed

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Category: Puppy Mills

Bel-Air pet store finds homes for shelter pets in space vacated by former purveyor of puppy-mill puppies

Woof Worx pet store

For five years, the manager of a pet store in posh Bel-Air met delivery trucks loaded with hundreds of ailing purebreds from Midwest puppy mills.

"They often got sick in transit," Jamie Katz said. "They would put hundreds of puppies on a semi, and if one got sick, they all got sick. I tried to fix the problems, but it's hard when you are the only one trying."

Two years ago, she found herself with allies -- protesters who showed up in front of the store in a high-end mall. They were working on a campaign of the Best Friends Animal Society to persuade people just like her to sell shelter animals instead, which is exactly what happened, thanks to Katz.

Amid the protests, Katz spent time talking to picketers, reading their literature and doing research; then the owners of the shop, Pets of Bel Air, decided to close. Katz borrowed money, leased the vacated store, hired eight employees (including her mom), bought all new inventory, named her business Woof Worx and took Best Friends up on an offer to help -- with questions, contacts and business advice.

Katz is now the group's poster child for going humane and is endorsed on websites, press releases and ongoing demonstrations at other stores.

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Hermosa Beach considers banning puppy and kitten sales in pet stores; measure passes initial vote

DalsHermosa Beach is poised to become the second Southern California city and the third in the state to ban the sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores.

Councilman Jeff Duclos proposed the legislation, which is intended to help put puppy mills and kitten factories out of business and is modeled on a similar ban approved in West Hollywood last month. A preliminary vote Tuesday received the unanimous support of the Hermosa Beach City Council, the Daily Breeze reports. A final vote is scheduled for April 13.

"We commend the humane leaders of Hermosa Beach for recognizing the direct link between inhumane puppy mills and local pet store sales of dogs and cats," Jennifer Fearing, the senior director of California programs for the Humane Society of the United States, said of the proposal. "Rather than supporting inhumane puppy mills by purchasing an animal from a pet shop or over the Internet, we encourage people to adopt pets from a shelter or rescue group, or to seek out a reputable breeder and visit their home to ensure any pets they purchase were reared with kindness." 

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West Hollywood City Council votes to ban most puppy, kitten sales in pet stores

Pet store

The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve new legislation that prohibits most sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores within city limits.

Under the ban, which takes effect later this year, pet stores will be permitted to offer animals from local shelters rather than those purchased from for-profit breeders. That business model has been implemented in recent years by several L.A.-area pet stores, including Melrose Avenue shop Orange Bone.

Despite the fact that no West Hollywood pet stores currently sell puppies or kittens, the move is seen as a major victory by activists who see it as an early step in the fight to end the problem of puppy mills. "This definitely calls for champagne," Carole Raphaelle Davis, West Coast director of the Companion Animal Protection Society, told our colleague Kate Linthicum before Tuesday's vote. "We're definitely taking this fight to Los Angeles. We want all of the stores citywide to go humane."

The famously liberal-minded West Hollywood has been at the forefront of the animal protection movement for years. In 2002, it amended its city code to refer to animals like dogs and cats as "companions" rather than "pets." (For the record, the word "owner" was also replaced with "guardian.") In 2003, it officially prohibited the declawing of cats, becoming the first city in the U.S. to implement such a ban. Several other California cities followed suit in 2009.

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West Hollywood set to ban retail sales of dogs and cats

Orange Bone

The West Hollywood City Council is looking to put a stop to sales of dogs and cats in pet stores.

If the ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs and cats in companion animal stores is approved in a Tuesday night vote, as is widely expected, West Hollywood would be among the first cities in the nation to prohibit most retail sales of puppies and kittens. South Lake Tahoe did just that in 2009, according to our sister blog L.A. Now.

The new ordinance, which was unanimously approved at its first reading a few weeks ago, is just the latest piece of animal welfare legislation the city has ushered in. In 2003, West Hollywood became the first city in the country to outlaw cat declawing. (Several other California cities, including Santa Monica, followed suit in 2009.)

The ordinance is aimed at curtailing puppy mills and addressing the inhumane conditions endured by animals in the puppy mill industry, which relies heavily on sales through retail pet stores for its profits, officials said in a statement.

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale in pet stores, online and directly to the public.

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Indiana panel OKs bill to require pet stores to give buyers information on breeders, animals' medical history


INDIANAPOLIS — A House committee unanimously endorsed a bill Wednesday that would require retail pet stores to give buyers information about a pet's background and medical history before selling a dog or cat.

Supporters said the legislation was critical to protect consumers looking for a family pet. The bill would require pet stores to put information about the dog or cat on its cage in the store -- including the animal's medical history, the name of the breeder and any congenital disorders. Customers could get other information, including the address and size of the breeding operation, upon request or when they buy a dog or cat.

Sarah Hayes, president of the Indiana Alliance of Animal Control and Welfare Organizations, said pet stores often spin the truth about where they get their dogs. Instead of saying animals come from large-scale breeding operations, a pet store may tell a customer that the dog simply came from a "local" breeder, she said.

"Local can be a puppy mill also," she said. "If pet stores are telling the truth that their animals do not come from puppy mills, they should have nothing to hide and shouldn't have a problem with simply posting this information."

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Iowa lawmakers consider new regulations aimed at cracking down on puppy mills

Puppy mill

Dog breeders in Iowa would see increased fees and tougher regulations under a measure unveiled today by supporters who called for cracking down on so-called puppy mills that often abuse animals.

Iowa's roughly 400 licensed breeders produce about 20,000 dogs annually, ranking it third nationally behind Missouri and Oklahoma, backers of the measure said at a statehouse news conference.

"We are here to protect those 20,000 dogs," said Davenport Sen. Joe Seng, a Democrat who works as a veterinarian.

Under the measure, the state would increase the licensing fee from the current $20 annually to $100. The extra money would pay for an inspector at the Iowa Department of Agriculture who could respond to complaints at breeding operations.

Breeders in the state now are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but supporters of the new measure argue that the agency's inspectors don't have time to check out complaints about facilities

"It's time to come in and set a fee that's adequate to do the job," said Sen. Matt McCoy, a Des Moines Democrat who is a key backer of the effort.

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Pennsylvania's Main Line Animal Rescue takes on puppy mills, one dog at a time

Main Line Animal Rescue

RONKS, Pa. — Megan Anderson's nerves are shot. But she presses ahead -- the dogs need her.

She pulls into the driveway of Scarlet-Maple Farm Kennel. She tells the adolescent boy who greets her that she's looking for puppies to give to her nephews for Christmas.

It's a lie. A necessary one, Anderson thinks, but a lie nonetheless. That's why she's jittery. Will the boy swallow her story? How about the Amish man with the long gray beard, straw hat and plain dress -- the kennel's owner? Will he discover her ruse and chase her away?

She hopes not. If all goes well, Anderson will leave with at least one dog, maybe more -- and perhaps with evidence that could help put this kennel out of business for good.

Over the last four years, Anderson -- who works for Main Line Animal Rescue, a shelter outside  Philadelphia -- has managed to coax some of Pennsylvania's largest commercial breeding kennels to part with their unwanted canines, usually females past their reproductive prime or young males they couldn't sell.

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Assemblyman Pedro Nava, others call on Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign animal-welfare bills

Navacolor In a Sacramento news conference Thursday, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, and representatives from animal protection agencies joined to call on Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign a raft of legislation designed to help California's animals. 

Nava introduced three animal-related bills that passed state Senate and Assembly votes in the legislative session that recently drew to a close.

The first, A.B. 241 (also known as "The Responsible Breeder Act of 2009"), would impose a limit -- no more than 50 unsterilized dogs and cats -- on individual breeders and large-scale businesses that sell animals for the pet market. The legislation would not affect the ability of shelters and rescue groups, veterinary facilities, boarding kennels or organizations that breed service or police dogs to have more than 50 unsterilized animals.

The second, A.B. 242, calls for stiffer penalties for those found guilty of attending dogfights.  "Unfortunately, California ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of dog-fighting enforcement, due, primarily, to weak penalties for being a spectator at a dogfight," said Eric Sakach of the Humane Society of the United States explained, adding that giving teeth (no pun intended) to the laws against dog fighting would help the state to crack down on the illegal blood sport.

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Animal lovers' calendar: Week of Sept. 13-19

Baby Angelenos, there are more animal-friendly events than we can shake a stick at (not that we'd want to shake a stick at an animal-friendly event) in the coming weeks. Are we forgetting something?  Let us know by leaving a comment!

This Week:

Saturday, Sept. 19, spare a thought for the countless dogs and puppies suffering for pet stores' profitability in the nation's puppy mills.  It's Puppy Mill Awareness Day, and events are scheduled for towns and cities around the country and the world.  The main event takes place in Lancaster County, Penn., but even here in L.A., we can hear the message.  More information at AwarenessDay.org.

Saturday, Sept. 19, you'll have your one and only opportunity this year (unless you run in very different circles than we do) to see a parade of dogs dressed as lobsters and other creatures of the sea. To celebrate the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival, Peninsula Dog Parks Inc. hosts the 11th annual Lobster Dog Pet Parade at San Pedro's Ports O' Call Village beginning at noon.  Pet costumes must be homemade and entries are judged on creativity and originality.  Prizes will be awarded for small dogs (under 30 pounds) and medium and large dogs (30 pounds and over).  Entry fee is $20 per dog.  Learn more and find information on early registration at DogParks.org.

Saturday, Sept. 19, pet rescue group the Lange Foundation hosts an adoption and fundraising event at every music-loving Angeleno's favorite record store, Amoeba Music Hollywood, beginning at noon.  Adoptable dogs from the Lange Foundation will be on hand to meet potential adopters, and an auction begins at 4 p.m. with proceeds benefiting Lange's work with needy pets.  

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WebClawer: Elephants rescued in Malawi, rare stripeless white tiger born, two-legged Sheltie inspires in Denver


From elephants and tigers to inspirational dogs and bad, bad cats, animals are making headlines all over the world today.  These are a few of the stories that made us take notice:

-- Wildlife advocates have successfully moved 83 African elephants from the Mangochi district of Malawi to a game reserve 100 miles away. Farmers in the area had resorted to shooting or trapping the elephants, which in recent years have raided crops and gored or trampled 20 people to death. Cheering villagers lined the roads as the sedated elephants were trucked away. A helicopter, a crane and two large flatbed trucks -- as well as an estimated $170,000 -- were needed to complete the project.  (Greenspace)

-- A 6-month-old Bengal tiger cub is so unusual that it's believed that there are fewer than 20 like her in existence. The cub, named Fareeda, is a resident of the Cango Wildlife Ranch, a breeding facility for endangered species in South Africa -- and she's stripeless."Some cubs develop stripes in their first few months, but after six months it's clear that Fareeda is truly one of the rarest of her kind," said Odette Claassen of the Cango ranch.  (Most white tigers have stripes, although sometimes the stripes are so light in color as to virtually disappear.)  (Telegraph)

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