The Dallas City Council has banned the sale of puppies and kittens at pet shops within its city limits as of May 11. This move comes as part of long-standing efforts to end purchases from puppy mills, which are pet breeding enterprises that are known for practices that include breeding pets more for quantity than quality.

Animal advocates have been tirelessly advocating for such legislation since December 2020.  The Texas Humane Legislation Network, along with Operation Kindness and SPCA of Texas had abundant praise for the passage of this ordinance.

Ending the Mill Pipeline

Stacy Sutton Kerby, of Texas Humane Legislation Network, has expressed hope that the new law will close what she describes as a "puppy mill pipeline to Dallas." Pet stores in Dallas, according to Kerby, have often been associated with selling sick or otherwise unhealthy puppies. 

Many puppies sold at Dallas stores believed to come from puppy mills have come from out-of-state. Even in the case of puppies who are healthy, organizations like Best Friends have cited a lot of problems that puppies from such situations have adjusting to their new homes.

Although there are no hard statistics on how many puppies sold through pet stores end up in pounds, advocates are concerned that many of these animals will, in fact, end up being surrendered. Where Dallas Animal Services handles tens of thousands of animals yearly, it's easy to see why rescue enthusiasts want to decrease the number of animals having to be impounded.

For Many, a Step in the Right Direction

Ed Jamison of Operation Kindness applauded the city for "putting dogs and cats first," citing how many of Operation Kindness' partner shelters have pets awaiting homes. For organizations like Operation Kindness that work with regional shelters, this ordinance may make it easier for them to remind people of the importance of adoption.

Dallas isn't the first Texas city to have passed such an ordinance. Other locations in Texas that have passed similar legislation include:

  • Austin
  • College Station
  • El Paso
  • Euless
  • Fort Worth
  • Houston
  • San Antonio
  • Sherman
  • Waco

In addition to the cities listed above, there has at least been support for enacting similar ordinances elsewhere in Texas. Rescue advocates have some hope that seeing fewer animals entertaining the shelter system will increase support for anti-pet sale ordinances.

Making Adopt, Don't Shop a Reality

Banning commercial pet sales won't make Dallas pet shops dog and cat-free by any means. Rather, the focus will shift away from encouraging local rescues to showcase the animals that they have available for adoption.

Karen Froehlich from SPCA of Texas cites the over 1,000 animals in her organization's care and the number of shelters transporting animals to other states as reasons why the time is right for this ordinance. For rescue advocates, showcasing pets currently in need of adoption in a setting where shoppers can interact with them and ask questions of volunteers 

This new ordinance takes effect in November, which means there is still work for many advocates to do and the effects might take a while to see. However, for animal advocates, this is news to celebrate regardless.