ANIMAL WATCH - Los Angeles Animal Services shelters are packed with adoptable dogs kept in cages in hallways, multiple animals in kennels, and conditions so dangerous that recently two dog attacks—one on a volunteer, another badly injuring an employee—occurred within two weeks.
Yet, on April 30, 2023, KTLA-5 News announced, “700 dogs rescued from puppy mill in Iowa; 53 available for adoption in Studio City, and that a weekend adoption event by Wagmor Pets Dog Rescue was being held for this purpose by a “rescue.” That is a loss of those 53 homes for local shelter pets.
A report by Newsbreak states that, “According to Melissa Bacelar of Wagmor Pets Dog Rescue, around 30 rescue groups participated in the effort to rescue these dogs from one of the largest puppy mills in the Midwest. Wagmor was the only California-based group to receive rescued dogs.”
“It added that an adoption event would be held to honor “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.” But it appears the shelter dogs will not be there to be adopted.
IS “WAGMOR PET STORE AND RESCUE” A SHELTER PARTNER?”
The City and County of Los Angeles both have many non-profit “rescue” organizations which are not taxed on profits from adoptions or donations, get animals free of charge or highly discounted, and are allowed an excessive number of animals, because they are “partnering” with the shelters to relieve overcrowding.
There is no indication that Wagmor Pets Dog Rescue is a “partner” with Los Angeles Animal Services, and it is not named on the latest public listing for L.A. County shelters rescue partners.
However, Wagmor has an astounding number of pets available for adoption on its site and on PetFinder—and now 53 more can be added.
A Google search to determine Wagmor’s tax reports and the names of officers, etc., brought up a site with a large number of public records containing information on the corporation, tax filings, communications with the Office of the State Attorney General and many other issues.
There are 20 Google reviews (2.4 rating) on the Wagmor Pet Shop and Rescue’s Website and additional comments/ratings here.
But, the question still remains: In a City where shelters are so overcrowded and conditions are tragic, why didn’t this local rescue take some of the Los Angeles Animal Services’ dogs, rather than fill badly needed local homes with imported pure-bred animals to celebrate “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day?”
L.A. HAS A BREEDING PROBLEM
Last year, alone, the Los Angeles Animal Services issued 2,260 dog breeders licenses, a 15% increase over the 1,876 obtained in 2021—and L.A. is wondering why it has a pet-overpopulation problem!
This also explains the high number of impounded Pit Bulls, which can have litters of 10 to 13 puppies and are easy to sell because of the City’s assurance that these are family pets.
Thus, breeding cats, dogs, rabbits or other animals for profit can be done in a small rental or any residential location. The City does not enforce a business/sales-tax permit for this lucrative and often cruel at-home business—but cracks down hard on garage sales!
There is no City license/permit needed to breed kittens or rabbits and the laws on sales are ignored.
California law states, “if you make three or more sales in a 12-month period, you are required to hold a seller's permit, but no one in L.A. is counting.
Also lost with the reported closing of pet shops in LA (and, later, across the state)—was the enforcement of the lengthy and detailed CA Health & Safety Code § 122350 - 122361, plus the stringent Polanco,-Farr, Lockyer Pet Protection Act, and Penal Code Sections 597 and 597.1—which provided stringent protections for purchasers and for the animals.
(See: Pet Dogs: LA Becomes a No-Limit City.)
PAUL KORETZ PROUDLY THANKED HIS TEAM
In his June 9, 2011, Newsletter, Councilman Paul Koretz announced the passage of, “(t)he prohibition of the establishment and/or operation of puppy, kitten, chicken and rabbit mills within the City of Los Angeles.”
He praised Judie Mancuso, President, Social Compassion in Legislation; Ed Buck, Social Compassion in Legislation (both of whom were pictured with him), Best Friends, the Humane Society, and all the folks and organizations who had “taken the lead on this vital concern over the years.”
HANK GREENWOOD, ADBA, AND ED BUCK SPOKE ON PUPPY MILL BAN
At the June 6, 2011, City Council hearing on restricting the breeding of purebred dogs in L.A., it is worth noting that a rare personal appearance was made by Hank Greenwood, president of the American Dog Breeder Association in Salt Lake City, (originally, the ADBA was formed to record the history of Colby fighting pit bulls but traditionally and currently it maintains the registry that lists Champion American Pit Bull Terriers. He cautioned that, “the city could be in for some unintended consequences.”
In a later telephone interview, with Daily News reporter Rick Orlov, Greenwood said, “Cities think they can take control of the puppy mills, but all they are doing is creating shortages of some breeds and that leads to a black market of animals. And that’s an industry with no regulations at all and they (will) find a way to sell the animals they produce.”
Another speaker at that meeting quoted by Orlov was Ed Buck, who indicated he was affiliated with the Southern California Golden Retriever Association, and told the council he supported the measure as “a way to allow responsible breeders to operate.” “This will put responsible breeders where they belong and so they do not have unfair competition,” he stated.
(Buck identified himself in 2017 as a “rescuer” during the investigation of the deaths of Jamel Moore, and later Timothy Dean, at his West Hollywood apartment, for which he was later found guilty.)
THE INTERNET REPLACED PET SHOPS IN LA
On June 3, 2017, an Internet search showed 1,004 private and commercial ads in the Recycler (a free advertising publication) for puppies in the Los Angeles area, priced from $450 to $3,500. Some sellers said they could provide pups of various breeds, indicating a puppy broker or mass-breeding operation. None in the first few pages mentioned AKC registration. (Read more: LA's 'Puppy Mill-Pet Shop Ban'… Success or Hypocrisy?)
The irony—and hypocrisy—of the “puppy mill pet shop ban” was and is that anyone can get a breeders' permit for a dog from LA Animal Services by merely paying $235, plus $100 for an intact dog license/permit. (Cats are not licensed by the City, but the LAAS website shows a required “in-tact” permit, plus breeder’s fee.)
Or, Angelenos can breed and sell pets without a permit without much fear of penalty. Breeding permits are issued without a zoning requirement or premises check.
BAN ON SALE OF DOGS/CATS FROM PUPPY MILLS MOVES TO SACRAMENTO
In a Sept. 15, 2017, News Release, Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation announced that a California State bill, AB 485, had passed both houses of the CA legislature, and stated, that this “landmark bill will bar the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits sourced from high-volume, commercial breeding facilities in all pet shops through the state. Instead, pet shops will be required to source animals from local shelters and rescues.”
Mancuso, also added, "AB 485 is a historic bill that will eliminate the demand for high volume, cruelly bred dogs, cats, and rabbits in our pet shops.”
Then on December 31, 2018, PRNewswire, announced that the State Bill patterned after the Los Angeles ordinance had passed and that “California Kicks Puppy Mills Out of Pet Shops, and that it would will go into effect on January 1.”
It also stated that the ban, AB 485, the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, was “sponsored by California-based political animal-advocacy group, Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL)” and that it would, “... eliminate the trafficking of mill-bred animals into California pet stores and save thousands of “animals’ lives from euthanasia in California shelters.”
But it didn’t work as the sponsor planned because the few existing pet shops closed their doors. Brokers took to the internet to conduct the pet business without rules, and many “rescues” (not included in the laws) seized the opportunity to fill the void and “save” puppy mill discards. This left less room for animals to be taken from the shelters and the current miserable overcrowding is the result.
RESCUERS STARTED BUYING PUPPY-MILL DOGS FOR RESALE
In CA ‘Rescued-Pet Shop’ Sham Helps Puppy Mills Thrive Through Legal Loopholes, we reported that a Colorado rescue organization admitted buying puppies at puppy-mill auctions, and financially supporting the industry they claim to abhor.
And a CBS 2-On-Your-Side Investigation on May 2, revealed in face-to-face interviews that some of the retail “rescued-pet shops” have become a sham that not only allows, but legalizes, puppy sales by unscrupulous tax-exempt “rescuers” who purchase directly from puppy-mill distributors that have obtained 501(c)(3) status.
“You’re being conned, it’s blatant consumer and charity fraud,” Deborah Howard of Companion Animal Protection Society, one of the supporters of AB 485, the statewide Bill, told CBS.
IS THE BAN WORKING IN L.A. OR CALIFORNIA?
In a Sept. 15, 2017, news release, Social Compassion in Legislation announced that AB 485 had passed both houses of the CA legislature and stated, AB 485 is a historic bill that will eliminate the demand for high volume, cruelly bred dogs, cats, and rabbits in our pet shops.
Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, also stated in the release, “This landmark bill will bar the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits sourced from high-volume, commercial breeding facilities in all pet shops through the state. Instead, pet shops will be required to source animals from local shelters and rescues.”
On October 13, 2017, CBS reported that Governor Jerry Brown had announced on Friday that he signed a law that makes California the first state to ban the sale of animals from puppy mills.
“Supporters said the state measure, AB 485, ensures better treatment of animals. The pet store industry said it removes important consumer protections,” the release states.
“Brown did not comment on his decision,” it added.
HOWEVER, IT DIDN’T QUITE WORK THAT WAY
Instead, the eleven—mostly family-owned small pet shops in the city of Los Angeles just closed up. The “rescuers” became the retailers. And now, on National Shelter Dog Awareness Day, Wagmore Pets in Studio City, CA, is offering-puppy mill dogs from Iowa for adoption.
See also: ‘Rescuers’ Buying Puppy-Mill Dogs for Resale … Federal Investigation Urged
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch)