San Francisco SPCA Endorses Legislation to End Animal Sales at Flea Markets

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The San Francisco SPCA today welcomed legislation introduced into the California Legislature by Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) in February and pledged whole-hearted support for its passage. AB 1122, co-sponsored by the State Humane Association of California and the California Animal Association, seeks to end the sales of animals at temporary retail venues such as swap meets, parking lots, and flea markets.

"The banning of this practice will significantly improve the lives of countless animals," said Jan McHugh-Smith, President of The San Francisco SPCA. "The absence of effective regulations routinely results in deplorable conditions for animals, especially puppies, at these venues." Animals sold at swap meets, flea markets and parking lots are frequently crammed into hot, unsanitary cages, often without food or water, repeatedly manhandled by shoppers, and purchased on impulse.

Puppies sold in these venues are the typically "products" of mass breeding facilities known as puppy mills. Documented problems of these puppy mills include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, overcrowding and lack of socialization with humans. These animals may appear healthy at sale time but many suffer from hard-to detect diseases, or fall prey to disease because their immune systems are not yet fully-developed. Other puppies are removed from their mothers too early and die from starvation because they don't yet have teeth and are unable to chew.

An additional problem is the smuggling of puppies from puppy mills across the US/Mexico border. The animals are usually sold out of the back of vehicles for cash, and the sellers often use disposable cell phones so that buyers have no recourse if the puppies get sick and die, as they often do. As a result, consumers can incur significant emotional and financial costs in caring for these animals.

The San Francisco SPCA has been striving to prevent cruelty to animals and to better their lives for 141 years. We believe that AB 1122 is a progressive step toward this goal, and we commend Assemblyman Lieu for his hard work on this issue.