The El Paso city council did something good for animals. In an effort to reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized in the city (currently 18,000), the council passed a new law, by a six-to-one vote, which regulates the pet trade.

The new ordinance prohibits the sale of dogs and cats under eight weeks old, and only breeders will be allowed to sell dogs and cats between eight weeks and one year of age. Furthermore, breeders won’t be allowed to profit from the sale of these young animals, having to settle for reimbursement for actual, documented expenses, such as the cost of food, vet services, and microchip and  registration fees. According to Tom Linney of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, this means “pet stores can’t charge $1,500 for a dog under one year of age ‘just because.'”

While El Paso should be commended for taking the plight of unwanted animals seriously, this ordinance is actually a watered-down version of a proposed outright ban on the sale of cats and dogs. Would that have been such a bad thing? As Stephanie Feldstein asked in an earlier post, Why Is Banning the Sale of Pets in Stores So Controversial? After all, other jurisdictions have gone all the way and banned the sale of pets, including West Hollywood and South Lake Tahoe in California, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Though there are surely some free-market purists and breed obsessives who don’t care for these new laws, the effects have been positive. According to MSNBC, after the Albuquerque law went into effect, “animal adoptions have increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent.”

There is something decadent and obscene about someone spending thousands of dollars for a pedigreed pet while countless unwanted animals languish in shelters, often escaping only through death. Not to mention that an estimated 99 percent of puppies sold by pet stores come from puppy mills.

Cities across America are realizing just how wrong this is, and trying to do something about it. While the El Paso law should have been tougher, at least they are making an effort. Hopefully more cities will follow. In the meantime, choose adoption and only support Puppy Friendly Pet Stores.

Photo Credit: Neither Fanboy