Body camera footage captured three San Diego County pet stores to be in violation of a new California law that prohibits the sale of pets unless they were obtained from a shelter.
The San Diego Humane Society's (SDHS) law enforcement team conducted a sweep of local pet stores on Wednesday and found violations of California's AB 485 at three locations: Broadway Puppies in Escondido, Bark Avenue in Escondido and Pup & Pets in Santee.
Video footage captured by the SDHS law enforcement team showed the uniformed officers enter all three locations and announce that they would be conducting a sweep of the stores.
The SDHS said Broadway Puppies had at least 39 pets at the store that did not have proof that they were obtained from a local shelter; Bark Avenue had 38 pets in violation.
Pup & Pets was found to have 25 violations of improper signage on their kennels. Humane Officer Allen Villasenor said signage should have the origin of the dog, their age and the breed.
NBC 7 received the following statement Thursday: “Pups & Pets was given a surprise inspection by two Humane Society Officers yesterday. We were found to be in complete compliance other than not having tags up on animals that had just arrived. The tags were printed and available for their review, just had not been placed on each window yet. They came less than an hour of opening and my staff was busy weighing and deworming new puppies. They found all our paperwork to be in order and our animals in great health. Pups & Pets is, and will always be, dedicated to complying with the new law and will continue to place animals into loving forever homes.”
AB 485, or the pet retail ban, went into effect on Jan. 1 and prohibits a pet store operator from selling a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the animal was obtained from a public animal control agency, shelter or rescue group.
The SDHS said pets found at these stores are often from out-of-state puppy or kitten mills and are, "born from overbred mothers kept in intolerably inhumane conditions. As a result, the animals are often unhealthy, leading to heartbreaking discoveries once in the home."
NBC 7 received the following statement Thursday: "Broadway Puppies and its parent organization are faithfully following the letter of the law in this case and will be exonerated of these citations. Other pet stores in San Diego County have been subject to similar harassment by SDHS only to have the citations dismissed in court. Californians can still buy purebred and mixed breed puppies directly from breeders and on-line, so this would seem to be a specific effort to harass with the intent to destroy law abiding businesses and the jobs associated with them. Broadway Puppies and other stores affected in San Diego County are also minority owned businesses, and we have directed our legal team to reach out to the United States Department of Justice regarding this harassment.”
In 2017, NBC 7 Investigates visited Broadway Puppies. At the time, Escondido was one of two cities that did not have laws prohibiting the sale of animals from commercial breeders and the owner was accused of inhumane practices at two local stores.
Senior Humane Officer Kristina Rhoades said consumers should have a "buyer beware" mentality when looking to adopt a pet.
"We have to make sure that any pet shops that do sell animals are coming from actual rescues," Rhoades said.
Anyone concerned that a local pet store is in violation of the pet retail ban can contact the San Diego Humane Society's law enforcement at 619-299-7012.