ThE Humane Pet Acquisition Ordinance

Community leaders should encourage the adoption of pets from shelters and rescue organizations, and promote education about each type of animal so families are equipped for long-term care and expenses. 

Once in effect, this ordinance will limit the following: 

  • The retail sale of cats and dogs, excluding nonprofit organizations and breeders selling directly to the public.
  • The retail sale of ferrets, rabbits, long-lived birds (such as Cockatoos, Macaws and Amazons) and large reptiles. Retail sales are defined as, offering for sale, offering for adoption, bartering, auctioning, giving away, displaying for commercial purposes or otherwise transferring any animal that is not bred on the premises.  

The problems in Michigan communities:

  • Animal Control staff hours would be better spent addressing the homeless animal problem and not spending their time continually policing chronic offenders in pet stores. 
  • The city of Warren spent over $20,000 on animal impound and veterinary care for just one pet store seizure in 2013.
  • Animals are kept in inhumane conditions in commercial and back-yard breeding facilities and in unfit conditions in pet stores.
  • Unsuspecting families are making expensive and spontaneous purchases of poorly-bred animals, resulting in expensive veterinary bills.

The model ordinance was developed using language from other cities who have passed similar restrictions including Austin, Texas; Glendale, California; and the City of East Providence, Rhode Island.

The City of East Providence ordinance restricting the sale of dogs produced in commercial, large-scale puppy mills was upheld by the federal U.S. District Court (2015) providing an important legal precedent in the national effort to crack down on abusive mills. Key language from this ordinance was included in the Humane Pet Acquisition model ordinance: 

"It is unlawful for any person to display, offer for sale, deliver, barter, auction, give away, transfer, or sell any live dog or cat in any pet store, retail business or other commercial establishment located in the City of East Providence."

The Macomb County Corporate Council approved the final version to be used in Macomb County and other Michigan communities. This version was approved by the Macomb County Commissioners on June 11, 2015.

Take Action:

  • Sign our Petition to receive action alerts and updates. Make sure you include your city, state and provide authorization to receive notifications. 

  • Shop at Michigan Pet Friendly Pet Stores.

  • Request your County Commissioners to pass a resolution to support the ordinance.

  • Request your City Council to pass the 2018 retail ordinance


What's wrong with selling live animals?

  • Animals supplied to pet shops including birds, puppies, and small mammals, are often raised in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. For example, many birds come from "bird mills". Like infamous "puppy mills" such facilities are little more than warehouses in which birds are held in barren cages for mass production. Similar facilities and conditions also exist for reptiles and small mammals. Animals bred by "private breeders" aka "backyard breeders" typically fare no better. Whether they are bred in backyards or at mass production facilities, there is little or no regulatory oversight.   

  • Many reptiles and fish are taken from the wild. In addition, some exotic species, including many birds and reptiles, are poorly adapted to captivity and, as such, it is difficult if not impossible to meet their needs in a pet shop setting. 
  • Some animals languish in pet stores for years and may develop behavioral problems that further reduce their chance of finding a home. 
  • Thousands of animals are surrendered to local shelters and rescues each year, only to be destroyed due to a lack of space, funds, and adoptive homes. In the U.S., four million cats and dogs — about one every eight seconds — are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Selling animals only adds to this tragedy. 
  • The cost of veterinary care often exceeds the "retail value" of an animal in a pet store. As a result, sick and injured animals often suffer or die without proper care.              
  • Individuals who purchase animals in retail venues often do so on impulse, without a full understanding of the commitment required to provide life-long care for the animals. Most shelters and rescue groups provide learning and support for how to care for adopted animals, as well as include a screening process to see if there is a good fit between a specific animal and person/family adopting him or her. Most pet stores do not provide, let alone know, what constitutes optimal care for the animals they sell. 


How to find a humane pet:

Michigan Shelter Reports

  • Michigan Shelter Reports include rabbits and ferrets shelter statistics, as well as intake, euthanasia and adoption numbers for cats and dogs. 

Other Cities Across the Country

Michigan Puppy Friendly Pet Stores

USDA Licensed Kennels

  • Kennel photos available on the ASPCA website. 
  • Kennel inspection reports available on the USDA website. Includes the last three years of inspections. Prior inspections available upon request through FOIA. UPDATE: As of March 2017, most records have been removed

Michigan Pet Store Breeders & Complaints

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 

Law Article