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Statewide legislation to ban roadside animal sales

on December 28, 2011

A dog awaits adoption at the Contra Costa Animal Services. Advocates for the roadside sale ban hope the legislation will reduce the number of unwanted pets in shelters. (file photo by: Karen McIntyre)

It’s common for vendors to sell animals on the roadside or at weekend flea markets in Richmond, but that may change next month.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this summer that bans unregulated pet sales. The two-part law goes into effect on Jan. 1 and prohibits the sale of animals on roads, street corners, parking lots, flea markets, boardwalks and other public venues. The legislation also stiffens the penalties for animal neglect, raising fines and maximum jail time for those convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

The law imposes new limits on selling pets over the Internet, even though many online services already prohibit such sales. Craigslist, for example, only allows posts for animal adoptions.

Passage of this animal protection bill is part of a larger strategy pursued by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other animal rights groups, aimed at reducing demand from puppy mills and other commercial breeding facilities.

Adoptions and giveaways are exempt from the new law.

Richmond passed a local ordinance in October that banned the sale of live chickens at farmer’s markets.

But for years the local flea market has offered a wide range of animals both as pets and as food, including puppies, rabbits, parakeets, ducks, goats and turkeys.

Lori Gardner Wilson, founder of Good Newz Pittie Pups dog rescue, said some individuals sell puppies out of vans and on the street. She said stricter regulations could lead to far fewer unwanted dogs in Contra Costa County.

Wilson said one van in particular parks on 23rd Street and has sold both flowers and dogs, usually Chihuahuas. The vendor puts up a sign whenever there are new puppies available.

“I just keep watching that sign go up and come down, go up and come down,” Wilson said, adding that authorities tend to avoid direct action unless the animals are clearly being abused.

The State Humane Association of California noted that humane and animal control officers often find animals sold in public venues to be ill, diseased and kept in unsuitable conditions.

Impulse purchases of these animals can also lead to pet abandonment.

The Contra Costa County Animal Services took in more than 15,000 dogs and cats last year and more than 6,000 were euthanized, according to a 2010 performance report.

There are also concerns that some pets, particularly puppies, are being sold too young. State law prohibits sales of dogs younger than eight weeks.

But to some, the state’s ban is too broad.

Councilmember Tom Butt, one of two council votes against banning live chicken sales, said he supports the protection of pets, but he still thinks people should be able to purchase certain animals for slaughter.

“To me, it’s just a whole different issue,” Butt said. “If you sell a chicken, you sell it to be killed and eaten … If you sell an animal as a pet, there’s a presumption that somebody’s going to take care of it for the rest of its life, which could be many years.”

To read more about the Richmond live chicken ban, visit:


  1. on December 29, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I sure wish they had a rooster law. Something to limit the number of roosters folks can have. I have neighbors that raise roosters for fighting. & since they don’t fight on the property they are perfectly legal. They have over 10,000 square feet of roosters. I’m talking 1000’s of birds.Unincorporated North Richmond gets stuck with this criminal element, & what goes on with it. We are all scared of the people who run this operation.

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