“Don’t let Clark County take away the puppies from Nevada!” beg the line petition published by a pet store called the Puppy Palace, in response to a proposed ordinance to ban the sale of dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs and rabbits in pet stores. In fact, the proposed ban would only apply to pet stores in unincorporated Clark County, not Puppy Palace in Henderson, at least for now.
More than four hundred communities across the country have ended the “puppy mill to pet store pipeline”, according to the Humane Society of the United States, by prohibiting pet stores from selling the animals. Puppy mills have been found to keep puppies and their parents in filthy conditions. Some dogs are forced to breed for up to ten years, animal advocates say.
Mesquite and North Las Vegas banned pet store sales in 2016. Reno decided to put a moratorium on new pet store sales in 2020, but passed a ban instead. Six states (California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Washington and New York) have banned the sale of animals in pet stores. Others are considering similar moves.
“We discovered dogs tied to posts and fences on a daily basis – with their toys and food left in a box next to them,” says Annoula Wylderich, founder of Animal Protection Affiliates, adding that the overcrowding of pets is a “huge problem nationwide”. . Las Vegas is particularly challenging due to eviction issues and the transient nature of our residents.
The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas welcomes approximately 30,000 animals a year. About ten percent of the approximately 10,000 unclaimed dogs received by the AF in 2020 and 2021 have been euthanized. The figures are a little higher for cats, which are less frequently claimed by their owners.
“Are these dogs we are selling?” Trevor Duggan, owner of Puppy World in Las Vegas, asked during a commission meeting on Tuesday. “Are we the problem?
Some municipalities require pet stores or breeders to be listed on microchip information. The city of Las Vegas has an ordinance requiring the breeder or seller to be named on file for the microchip.
Jeff Dixon, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said 12 stores selling puppies in unincorporated Clark County would be affected by the order and encouraged to focus on product sales and pet services.
Last year, a puppy mill in Iowa that was closed by the authorities for dirty and dangerous conditions had sold 20 dogs to Puppy Town in Las Vegas.
Kayleen Olsen says the store, which has changed hands since last year, now reviews USDA records of all animals it receives.
“I think it will hurt a lot of small businesses because a lot of them are family owned,” she says of the ban, adding that Puppy Town is relying on puppy sales to stay open. “I can only speak for our store and say that we really care about our puppies and do our research on those breeders we buy from around the country.”
National breeders can settle as close as at home.
In April, Nye County animal control officials seized two dozen rare Caucasian shepherds from a breeder in Pahrump, according to KTNV. A rescue organization that helped save the animals is sending some of the allegedly malnourished dogs to foster homes.
Commissioner Michael Naft, who proposed the pet store sales ban, agreed to meet with pet store owners, shelter officials and rescues to discuss possible mitigation measures.
Opponents of a ban say puppies or chosen breeds will be in short supply thanks to rescues and shelters.
“In the past year, we’ve had two pugs under the age of one who came through the Animal Foundation,” says Kelsey Pizzi, the nonprofit’s communications manager.
“There are a lot of puppies out there, because of irresponsible backyard breeders and pet owners who don’t spay their pets,” Wylderich says, adding that there are more than 100 rescues in Las Vegas, many of which specialize in specific breeds.
Wylderich currently breeds a Havanese, a breed that sells for thousands of dollars in pet stores.
“When we say ‘adopt, don’t buy,’ that slogan is to encourage people to seek out breed-specific rescues, of which there are plenty for virtually every breed type,” Dixon says, adding animal finder and The Pet Shelter Project have a range of adoptable pets, “of all sizes, temperaments and energy levels”.
“Hobby breeders who sell directly to individuals and do not use third parties are not affected by this order,” Dixon says. “We actually prefer these breeders to pet shops because the conditions, overall, are much more humane. We understand that there will always be breeding, especially for service animals.
“In addition to easing the homeless pet population and the burden on shelters and rescues, it also impacts taxpayers who fund animal control,” Wylderich said.
In 2018, Clark County considered but dropped a similar measure. Activists are tweaking their approach this time around.
“We call it a human pet store ordinance,” Wyderich said, hoping it sounds more appealing to lawmakers than a ban. “Although it is the same thing.”