Political Animal

2017 sees end to pet shop puppy mill sales; no end to Yulin Dog Meat festival; Prince missing again

Often seen in the Marina with his homeless owner, there is a $500 reward for the safe return of Prince, who went missing just after Thanksgiving.


Almost one year ago, San Francisco’s animal angel and District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang received unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors for her legislation banning the sale of nonrescue dogs and cats at local pet stores. “We really do believe that it will send a great message not just in San Francisco but across California, nationwide and hopefully worldwide,” Tang said at the time. Not only did Tang’s law give thousands of animals taken in by shelters a better chance of finding homes and escaping euthanasia (a poetic sounding word which, in the shelter world, means killing animals, often for lack of adopters or space), it also prevents pet stores from selling animals bred in kitten factories and puppy mills.

This past October, California followed San Francisco’s lead, becoming the first state to ban the sale of animals from mass breeding operations when Gov. Jerry Brown signed measure AB485, which requires pet stores to work with shelters and rescues if they want to sell dogs, cats, or rabbits. Thirty-six cities in California already had similar bans, and I have no doubt that Tang’s work in San Francisco — and her advocacy to see the ban go statewide — contributed to California’s decision.

Anyone considering buying a purebred should first read journalist Paul Solotaroff’s damning exposé on America’s puppy mills, “Inside the Dog Factory,” published in the December 2016 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The majority of puppies and kittens sold at pet stores come from these horrific operations, which are sorely under-regulated and solely profit driven. In 2018, I hope to see the ban move toward nationwide acceptance (something a young Senator Barack Obama championed at the behest of his good friend, Oprah Winfrey).

I would also like to see a ban on the import and export of dogs and cats across state lines. Most puppy mill breeders do a thriving online business, posting warm, fuzzy photographs of their “professional setups” to make buyers feel better about purchasing a puppy sight unseen. The puppies are then loaded into crates and shipped, usually by commercial airline. They often arrive sick, some even dead. Preventing puppy mills from shipping their “product” out of state would take a huge bite out of their cruel, deceptive practices. The bottom line: If you’re going to buy from a breeder, that breeder should want you to visit their location and see for yourself that the animals are treated well and in good health. Of course, with nearly half of the 10 million animals in shelters put to death each year (37 percent are purebreds), there’s no reason to buy a dog or a cat. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, check local breed-specific rescue groups, but even mixed breed rescues get purebreds: Earlier this year, Rocket Dog had an 18-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog, and Wonder Dog had a number of French bulldogs and Boston terriers. And don’t forget Muttville, where you can always find a senior dog with lots of life and love left to give.


At its height, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, held annually to mark summer solstice, was said to be responsible for the barbaric deaths of 15,000 dogs, mostly stolen pets. With the work of activists, animal welfare groups, and celebrities, that figure dropped to 1,000 in 2016. I’ve written about Yulin for years, so I was thrilled when Humane Society International announced it would end in 2017. Sadly, the excitement was short-lived as Animals Asia reported Yulin authorities would not stop the “unauthorized” event. In 2018, please spread the word, keep up the pressure, and donate to groups on the front lines in China like Animals Asia ( and Duo Duo Project (

People in the Marina may recognize Prince (pictured above), the bigheaded, easy-going grey pit bull belonging to a homeless woman who frequented the neighborhood. Prince was stolen a while back, but Good Samaritan and Marina resident Alexandra Dixon tracked him down (it doesn’t hurt that she runs a treasure hunt company). Unfortunately, just after Thanksgiving, Prince’s owner collapsed in Golden Gate Park near the bathrooms at Lincoln and 19th Avenues, and when she came to, Prince was gone. He could be anywhere from SoMa to the FiDi (last time he was found in a homeless camp, patiently lying alone in a tent). If you see Prince, please call Alexandra Dixon at 415-305-5030. There is a “no questions asked” reward of $500 for information leading to his safe return.

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