Pittsfield bans sale of dogs from 'puppy mills'

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PITTSFIELD — Pets sold from so-called puppy mills will be banned in Pittsfield after a unanimous vote from the City Council on Tuesday.

While there currently are no stores that source from puppy mills in the city, animal advocates told councilors during the meeting that the measure would prevent the kinds of stores that exist elsewhere in the state.

Conditions in mills are cruel, they said, and they yield sick animals that cause heartache and financial loss for the people who purchase them.

"This is really a consumer protection measure as well as an animal one," said Kara Holmquist, advocacy director for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Pittsfield is the fourth municipality in the commonwealth to pass such legislation, according to state-level animal advocates at the meeting. The petition was brought forward by Rinaldo Del Gallo III, an activist and local attorney.

Laura Hagen, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said local laws are necessary because state and federal governments have failed to address the issue. Federal laws allow companies to keep animals in cramped wire cages for their whole lives.

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"Female dogs are treated as puppy-producing machines," she said. "The endgame is all about how many puppies can we produce."

Even when it comes to protections on the books, she said, "[federal] enforcement is abysmal." And animals born from factory farms more often end up in shelters because their problems make them difficult to care for.

The new city ordinance also covers cats and rabbits.

Stephanie Harris, senior legal affairs manager for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said having such laws on the books pushes retail chains to change their behaviors.

"It's possible to thrive without selling puppies and kittens and rabbits," she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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