Cambridge Bans Sale of Animals Reared in “Puppy Mill” like Conditions

Animal Advocates Cheer Vote Prohibiting Retail Sales of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians

Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 8, 2017 – The MSPCA-Angell lauded last night’s 8-1 vote by the Cambridge City Council to prohibit the retail sale of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from pet shops in the city.

Once the ban goes into effect, twelve months after passage, Cambridge will not only take its place alongside nearly 250 U.S. municipalities with restrictions on pet sales, but will be recognized for going further by protecting more species of animals, and for preventing thousands of animals from being bred, shipped, bought, or sold as part of the commercial pet trade.

No Sanctuary in Cambridge for Animal Cruelty

Despite inspection programs developed internally by high-profile pet stores, outside investigations reveal that efforts to weed out horrifically bad breeders have largely failed. USDA inspectors in 2016 found evidence of animals frozen alive and trapped in filthy cages while deprived of food, water, and care. The animals—including chinchillas, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits—were bound for pet stores, including the large chains that serve Cambridge.

The Cambridge ban follows Boston’s 2016 ordinance restricting the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet stores, the first of its kind in the state. Neither the Boston nor Cambridge ordinances prevent responsible breeders from engaging in direct sales to consumers, nor do they prohibit pet shops from partnering with shelters and rescues to provide pets to the public.

Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern, who for many years has championed efforts to protect animals in the city, lauded the city council’s decision to prioritize the safety of animals and consumer protection over their commercial value.

“At the end of the day this is about protecting animals,” said McGovern. “No one who’s seen the videos of animals frozen to death, or stuffed in small boxes for transport without food or water, could support the continuation of these practices. I thank the city council for their commitment to animal protection and for helping to make our great city that much more humane.”

Cambridge resident Curt Rogers, who delivered testimony asking the city council to vote in favor of the ordinance, is thrilled with the outcome.  “This decision reflects the growing influence of everyday people who are advocating to shield animals from harm. It also shows our city’s commitment to reducing cruel business practices whenever and wherever possible,” he said.

Laura Hagen, deputy director of Advocacy at the MSPCA-Angell, believes the ban will also reduce the flood of newly homeless animals pouring into shelters across the state.

“In 2016 some 2,000 small animals including reptiles, birds, guinea pigs and ferrets were surrendered to the MSPCA,” she said.  “We know that at least twenty eight percent of these animals—and likely more—were originally purchased in stores.”

Hagen went on to thank the city council for its vote while addressing criticism from pet stores that the ban places them at a disadvantage.

“Any pet store that goes out of business because of ordinances mandating basic protections for animals does so by choice,” she said.  “The vast majority of pet stores, be they large chains or small, local shops, already make most of their money from the sale of pet products and services such as boarding, grooming or training.  As the city council’s decision makes clear, there is no justification for maintaining a supply chain sustained by animal suffering.”

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