San Francisco animal commission wants to reward pet stores that don’t sell pets

Pet stores that do not actually sell pets could soon receive a seal of approval from The City. With efforts to ban pet sales stymied

Pet stores that do not actually sell pets could soon receive a seal of approval from The City.

With efforts to ban pet sales stymied, The City’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare is investigating ways of highlighting businesses that only sell food and accessories.

For years, there has been concern that pet stores in San Francisco resell animals that were originally purchased from breeding facilities notorious for housing creatures under inhumane conditions.

In June, the commission recommended that The City ban stores outright from selling pets, but because it is only an advisory body, an ordinance would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. That initiative has made little headway.

With little progress on the matter, animal commission director Ryan Young has offered a new solution. He wants The City to issue official signs to all pet stores in San Francisco that do not sell live animals. The sign would be placed prominently on the storefront, reminding customers that those businesses have chosen not to engage in that controversial practice.

“The idea would be to highlight and reward the pet stores who have chosen not to sell live animals,” Young said.

He said there are plenty of adoptable animals at shelters and animal control centers — enough so that pets should not be “produced” by private businesses.

Hope Bohanec, spokeswoman for In Defense of Animals, a rights group, said the sign program is a good start, but she said it would be more effective to place notices on stores that sell animals, reminding consumers that the pets were likely brought up under cruel conditions.

Michael Maddox, general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a trade organization, said that Young’s sign program would unfairly condemn all pet shops.

“This is making a blanket comment about pet stores that is not based on fact,” Maddox said. “This would essentially amount to a citywide boycott, irrespective of the quality of care at pet stores.”

Sally Stephens, chair of the animal welfare commission, said she supports the concept, but she was unsure of the regulatory power of the body. Since it’s only an advisory committee, she questioned whether it would better if the program was handled by a nonprofit animal rights group.

Justin Hau, owner of Ocean Aquarium, a fish store in the Tenderloin, said the commission’s latest proposal is another example of The City trying to regulate an industry it doesn’t understand.

“We don’t sell sick fish and we don’t sell unhappy fish,” Hau said. “They’ve never even come down here to talk to me about what I’m actually doing.”

The commission will discuss the animal sign program at its meeting on Thursday.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

No doggie in the window

A small percentage of The City’s pet stores actually sell live animals and those that don’t may get a stamp of approval from The City.

30 Number of pet stores in San Francisco that sell only food and accessories

4 Number of stores that sell dogs

10 Number of stores that sell other animals

85 Percent of pet store revenue that comes from accessories and food

11 Percent of pet store revenue that comes from live animal sales

Source: Commission of Animal Control and Welfare

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