A Mini Toy Puppies store in San Marcos. Photo by Maggie Avants
A Mini Toy Puppies store in San Marcos. Photo by Maggie Avants

Joining a wave of California cities in banning so-called “puppy mills,” the San Marcos City Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail pet stores.

The City Council voted 4-0 in support of the ban. Councilwoman Sharon Jenkins was absent.

“This does pull on your heartstrings,” Vice Mayor Rebecca Jones said. “From what I can tell, the breeders are not taking care of the animals the way I think they should. It’s important to love them and treat them like a living being. That being said, I’m fine with the ordinance that’s been presented to us.”

The ordinance prohibits the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in retail pet stores from breeders. Animals that pet stores obtain from shelters, animal control, or animal rescue organizations are exempt.

The focus of the ban was on Mini Toy Puppies, a store on Nordahl Road owned by David and Veronica Salinas. The owners, who also have a store in Oceanside, were targeted with a similar ban in Oceanside last year.

Veronica Salinas, who spoke during public comment, said closing a pet store could cause various problems in society.

“There’s no way of regulating anything,” Veronica Salinas said. “Animal shelters are not regulated.”

Veronica Salinas said the closure of pet stores would mean more puppies would be imported from outside of the country, possibly resulting in more health problems.

David Salinas also spoke at the meeting, claiming that shelters import dogs. He also criticized the City Council for not speaking to him prior to the meeting.

“Not one of you have called me back to get my side of the story, which is a little troubling,” Salinas said. “We are the victims here. We love people and we love the animals. To say it’s all about the profit, it’s ridiculous.”

But the couple’s comments were overpowered by supporters of the ban.

“Commercial breeders who do sell to pet stores do not ensure quality of breeding,” Elizabeth Oreck, national manager the Best Friends Animal Society, said. “More than 100 communities in the country have already enacted this ordinance.”

A retired veterinarian said she’s seen “first-hand the tragedy of animals who come from puppy and cat mills.”

“It extends beyond the pet to the families,” she said. “It’s families often with children. These families are faced with a pet they’ve purchased at a pet store, and cannot afford the veterinarian’s bills or the animal cannot be helped, and the only option is euthanasia.”

The ordinance takes effect 30 days following the vote.