New law cracks down on public animal sales

Rescue founder says legislation seems to have ‘no teeth’
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A new law has the potential to crack down on residents selling pets in public places, but local animal organizations have differing views about its effectiveness and what needs to happen next. Last week Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 917 into law. The law pertains to animal abuse. A section of the law now makes it illegal to sell, offer for sale, give away as part of a commercial transaction or display live animals on streets, highways, public rights-of-way, in parking lots, as well as at carnivals or boardwalks. The law was signed about two weeks after a seizure of dozens of animals from a Loomis property that were reportedly being abused. Jenifer Gabor, the woman renting the property where the animals lived, was allegedly selling them in public places such as parking lots, according to Rosemary Frieborn and Curt Ransom, humane officers with the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills. On July 27 the animals were placed in the official custody of the Humane Society after Gabor failed to pay the fees to possibly get them back. Frieborn said the legislation is important because it can help stop a cycle of breeding pets in inhumane places for the purpose of selling them. Frieborn said past legislation about age requirements for animals gave law enforcement some power to reduce sales in public areas, but now they will have more. “I have asked people to leave parking lots where they are selling animals,” she said. “I have done that and the only reason I was able to ask them to leave was because the animals they were selling were under 8 weeks of age. Under this new law, we will be able to ask them to leave because they are not supposed to be in parking lots selling animals.” Frieborn said the law will now also allow them to remove animals from those situations. “To take it one step further, the animals that are sick looking, that appear to need veterinarian care, for certain we would be able to seize those animals if it’s in the officer’s opinion they needed veterinary care. And then we would provide that.” Cassie Reeves, co-founder and treasurer for the Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation, said in an e-mail she doesn’t know what kind of an impact the law will have. “On the surface it seems to be yet another ‘unenforceable,’ or unlikely to be enforced, ‘law,’ just like the minimum 8-week-old range for giving away or selling animals,” Reeves said. “I see them all the time on Craigslist and in front of stores. I just took in two puppies from a litter of eight that were given away at 4 weeks of age, barely weaned. Laws without ‘teeth’ in them are just meaningless to the folks who think it is perfectly OK to let their cat or dog have litter after litter and give them away to whoever will take them without regard for the well being of the animal.” Reeves said the sale of animals in parking lots and other public places does make adoptions difficult for local rescue organizations, because clients sometimes want the youngest kittens possible. So, they will buy them in public places for a cheaper price than an organization’s adoption fee. Frieborn said she thinks more than just law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for the illegal sales. “We have got a whole community that will turn people in,” she said. “We have got a whole community out there that will call us and report animal abuse. They are our eyes and ears and we will go out there and enforce. We don’t need to be driving around looking behind dumpsters to see if people are selling animals. We have people that will call us and then we will be there.” Frieborn said potential pet buyers need to be wary of those making sales on the Internet, and should always visit the place where their future furry friends are being bred. When having to give up pets, owners should visit the home where the pets will be living to make sure it is an acceptable environment. Leilani Vierra, chief executive officer of the Placer SPCA, which has an adoption and resource center in Auburn, said she thinks the law is just another way of trying to put a stop to an environment where animals are raised inhumanely for sale. “I think it’s a tool in a tool box,” Vierra said. “While I don’t often see people selling animals in parking lots or on the side of the road, I do see it from time to time.” Vierra said she doesn’t want to perpetuate this type of situation, but she has purchased litters of puppies or kittens in the past, just to give them a better life. When people buy animals from a shelter, rescue group or animal-based organization, they can be sure they have gotten the pre-adoption care they need such as being spayed or neutered, tested for viruses, vaccinated and microchipped. Vierra said the Placer SPCA polishes animals’ teeth and analyzes what kind of family they would be best for before adopting them out to new homes. “I can feel pretty confident someone selling something out of their trunk … isn’t doing any of those things,” Vierra said. Most purchases in parking lots or along roadsides are impulse buys, and while they may help those animals, it also continues the possibly abusive environment the seller has started, Vierra said. Vierra said she thinks the law is important because it could provide education. “I think the community needs to know that is unacceptable, they need to know there is a law and they need to make that call,” she said. “Without this law, there is no option.” Reach Bridget Jones at ----------------------------------------------------- Tips for buying an animal from a breeder, provided by Leilani Vierra, chief executive officer of the Placer SPCA • Only work with breeders who welcome you to their homes to see where animals were bred • Ask to see the mother and father of the animal and interact with them • Ask to see medical records. If there are none that is a red flag • Breeders should ask just as many questions about you as you ask them • Responsible breeders always offers to take an animal back if situation doesn’t work out