Banning That Doggy in the Window

West Hollywood votes to prohibit puppy boutiques
By JoAnna Lou, February 2010

On Tuesday night, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously voted to approve legislation that prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. The ban, which takes effect in September, doesn’t actually affect any of the current stores in West Hollywood, since none sell dogs or cats, but it does set a precedent for other cities.

When I was in Los Angeles two years ago, I was horrified by the puppy boutiques located in popular shopping districts, hawking pets as accessories. While the legislation doesn’t cover the stores I saw, I’m hoping West Hollywood’s actions will encourage other cities to do the same. 

Since the ordinance was introduced, the West Hollywood has received dozens of inquiries from other cities, both nationally and internationally, interested in creating similar legislation.

The ban, which was also adopted last year in South Lake Tahoe, encourages stores to offer shelter pets for adoption instead of selling dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders. Hopefully the legislation will also help discourage people from buying dogs on impulse, since potential adopters will be screened.

West Hollywood is home to many celebrities and trendsetters, but the city has also become a trailblazer in animal legislation. The city added a local tax deduction for pet adoption fees, amended code to change the word “pet owner” to “guardian,” and was the first municipality in the country to prohibit cat declawing.  

The passage of the new ban is a victory for the Companion Animal Protection Society, who supported the legislation, but they’re already looking towards their next goal: Los Angeles.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.