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June 10, 2010


1. Call to Order and Roll Call

5:36 PM


Present  Commissioners, Pam Hemphill, Philip Gerrie, Andrea Brooks, Sally Stephens, Laurie Kennedy-Routhier, Rebecca Katz – ACC


Absent Commisioners, Angela Padilla, David Gordon DVM, William Herndon SF Police, Bob Palacio – Rec & Park


Comr. Stephens – Rules Committee did appoint three new Commissioners to fill the seats of Comrs. Padilla, Routhier, & Gordon. However seats have not been approved by the full Board yet.


2. General Public Comment


L-Danyielle Yacabucci – Wants to make sure only two Commissioners are on the working group starting up to not make a quorum.


Martha Hoffman – SPCA feral cat volunteer – Thanks outgoing Commissioners, Angela Padilla & Laurie Kennedy-Routhier for their work.


Richard Fong – Expresses concern over oil spill in the Gulf. Questions if SF will make a statement of sympathy for all those affected.


Public Comment closed


Comr. Stephens – It takes four members of this Commission to make a quorum so three Commissioners can meet and not break Sunshine law.


3. Approval of Draft minutes from May 13, 2010 Meeting


No Public Comment


Comr. Hemphill – In item 7 A, wants included in her statement that does not want to be part of the food chain.


Minutes approved unanimously with correction by Commissioner.


4. Status and tracking of letters of recommendation from the Commission to the Board


A) Update on recommendation that the Board pass an ordinance amending the Annual Salary Ordinance to create a classification for Senior Behaviorist/trainer and an Assistant Behaviorist/trainer positions.

Comr. Brooks – Has met with aides of Supervisors but no one Supervisor has taken it on so far. Remains optimistic. Update of training and behavior classes partnering with ACC and PAWS. The project is in an experimental phase right now working on troubleshooting common behavior problems and how to address them. Classes will be starting in late November. Classes will be for both dogs and cats.


4 A) Public comment


L-Danyielle Yacabucci – Requests that if ACC gets just one behaviorist, will not just do dogs but also cats.


Richard Fong – Questions if an additional behaviorist is the best position to fill. Personally, prefers an additional veterinarian instead. Policy could come from  Public Health Commission with ACWC .


5.New Business


A) Presentation of an overview of animal welfare and related management issues at the SF Zoo by Bob Jenkins, V.P. SF Zoo, will include recent events, current issues and the zoo’s future.


Bob Jenkins – [Full presentation can be found at the ACWC website under Supporting documents June 10, 2010]

Summary: SF Zoo is 82 years old and was originally owned and operated by the City. Many structures were built in the 1930s. SF was the first major metropolitan Zoo to privatize in 1993. A Performance Audit, done in 1999, focused on all aspects of Zoo, not just animal welfare. The Audit found that animal care at the Zoo was more than adequate. Since 1993, capital projects completed have included: 1) Public Safety Improvements totaling $26 million; 2) $48 million from a 1998 City Bond Program; and 3) $40 million raised by the Zoological Society. The City has told the Zoo that the $291,717 remaining from the Bond must be used to fix remaining ADA issues (identified as a result of an ADA lawsuit). 50% of Zoo infrastructure is less than 15 years old. About 40% of infrastructure is more than 60 years old. As a result of the 2007 Tiger Mauling, the Zoo had a $2,100,000 shortfall, due to loss in attendance and membership revenues. Because of shortfall, in 2009, the Zoo took out loans from the PUC and Rec and Park Dept to pay bills that the Zoo owed them. They have a structure to repay those loans. Since 2007, the Zoo has had significant changes in senior management. 2011 Budget estimates $8-9 million from public admissions, while the management fee of $4.1 million has not changed in years, even though it buys less due to inflation. Animal care costs total close to $10 million. An update to the Zoo's Master Plan was begun in 2007 but was put on hold in 2008 and 2009. A survey conducted by the Zoo found that 74% of SF residents like or love the Zoo. From 1996 to 2007, there was a 20% increase in those who think the Zoo is good or excellent. Alao the perceived need for improvements at the Zoo is down by 13%. The Zoo, however, disagrees and wants to make improvements and has restarted work on Master Plan Update. They are considering 93 major recommendations for improvements, with over 500 action items. When making improvements, the Zoo has to have facilities that are designed for people to enjoy because $10 million of their budget comes from visitors (admissions, parking, retail). The Zoo has begun work on a Mini-Campaign to rebuild the Tropical Rainforest Building, install new squirrel monkey exhibit, renovate two hoofstock exhibits, and renovate the playground to meet ADA lawsuit settlement. The Mini-Campaign will be completely privately funded. Addressed specific animal welfare concerns voiced at previous Commission meetings. The polar bears show no neurological problems. Ulu paces when people are around, in part because she was fed by the public when she first came to the Zoo and she is still expecting to be fed by people. The Zoo does not see the need to expand the Asian rhino area. The Baird's tapir will be moved to the new Hippo area. Anteaters have access to their entire yard. The Capybara is destined for the new squirrel monkey exhibit. The minimum cost to cut a hole in the wall between exhibits is $17,000 to $20,000l; it is not simple to do. The two black rhinos love their new area. It is larger than before. Ellie has a skin problem and the keepers rub her down with mineral oil. Animal Enrichment has been assigned to a specific Curator to focus attention on it.


Comr. Hemphill – Where the people surveyed only those that came to the zoo?


Bob Jenkins – No. Was a random cross section of SF voters done by independent pollster over the telephone. People surveyed had been to the zoo.


Comr. Hemphill – What public do you draw? Seems to be a lot of mothers with strollers.


Bob Jenkins – Changes through out the year. Many au pairs come during the week. Right now many school  groups come. Also depends on the time of day. School groups are gone by the late afternoon. Kids from summer camp come during summer. On the first Wednesday of every month admission is free for SF residents. During the winter attendance drops. Saturday attendance is different than weekdays. Have instituted a zip code survey when admitting. Have a fair number of tourists but zoo is hard for many tourists to get to. So it varies considerably on time of day, week and year.


Comr. Hemphill – What about the filtration system of the pool that was drained? What was the decision making about that? Could the decision making have been better?


Bob Jenkins – Decision making can always be better. Was geared towards two aging hippos.  It took two years longer that it should have to be completed. Hippos/Rhino planning started in 2005 but was opened in 2009. Grizzly Gulch, managed entirely by the zoo, started in 2006 and opened in 2008. Not a criticism but the hippo/rhino exhibit was a City bond money project and city run projects take longer and cost more. In 2004 the criticism was the existing hippo pool was too small. The zoo then made the decision to triple the hippo space using some of the bond funds of the $7.8 million to provide a bigger pool and a grassy area. This was an interim short term solution to address the needs of two aging hippos. The hippos died before the exhibit was completed. The final hippo exhibit was set to be placed in the Africa exhibit at a cost, in today $, of $12 to $15 million. Zoo did not have the money nor wherewithal nor support by City  voters to go for that big of a project at that time.


Comr. Gerrie  -What was the question asked in the survey?


Bob Jenkins -  They were multiple choice questions. “Do you like the zoo a lot? Do you like it a little? Don’t like the zoo? Etc.”


Comr. Gerrie – At the time of the survey there was a lot of support to change the nature of the zoo to a rescue zoo. There was a lot of support for such a change but the question was not asked.


Bob Jenkins – The survey was done long before the rescue zoo issue came up.


Comr. Gerrie – As to the set management fee, where is that going? What is being managed with that money? Is it known where that money goes?


Bob Jenkins – It goes straight into the general revenue base of the zoo. It goes to maintain the buildings and grounds for the Zoo Society because the City still maintains ownership of the property, grounds, buildings and animals, as  per the Lease Management Agreement


Comr. Gerrie – So it goes to the actual management of the zoo itself versus a position as a job description?


Bob Jenkins – Yes.


Comr. Gerrie – We had a very different presentation last month concerning the zoo. They painted a very different picture. They had a very convincing position that was critical of the zoo. Why do you think they were so critical?  You had good answers to all the issues they had. We were ready to address all of their concerns they brought up. We talked about forming a sub-committee to work on their recommendations. From your presentation they are not issues.


Bob Jenkins – Trying to guess what they are thinking and their motivation is not in my pervue. I am willing to understand what they are talking about. It is more about philosophy versus actuality. One can describe an event from wherever the viewer sees it. It looks real to the viewer. It doesn’t mean it is real to everyone else. Or that your perception is shared by everyone else. 75% of SF voters think the zoo is fine, just the way it is, by 75% and less than 8% disapprove. To the Zoo Society it is not acceptable the way it is. 50% more work remains to be done. Another 10 to 15 years of work is left to do. Funding is starting with private donations. We are not asking the city for money now. In November of 2007 the thinking was to get a hundred, or two hundred, million to do the work needed. The economy downturn changed all that. Donations to the  zoo from private funds dropped by half.  The zoo is lucky, many public institutions across the country are closing due to lack of money. Last month’s statement that this is not about money is totally misleading. We are struggling to maintain our support. Its easy to criticize. Much harder to solve.


Comr. Gerrie – The several small fixes proposed last month, according to you, are not necessary at all?


Bob Jenkins – There is no animal health reason for any of them.


Comr. Gerrie – If there were any small fixes, is there any pot of money for that?


Bob Jenkins – Small fixes don’t have to go through a process. There is a cap fee in the Lease-Management Agreement. We have no money for any fixes. The mini campaign, ongoing now, will hopefully raise some funds. When money becomes available, we will make those fixes such as fixing two major hoof-stock areas, the aviary building, and we are required to repair the playground from a judgment by a court of law.


Comr. Gerrie – Two years ago we made a recommendation to the Board  to change the mission of the zoo to a rescue zoo based on what was told to us by the zoo’s critics. I wish that someone from the zoo had come, as you tonight, to offer us a different perspective. We all went to the zoo then and saw what the critics described, such as the stereotypic behavior of the polar bear pacing. We need to hear from both sides. I appreciate you being here.


Bob Jenkins – That is primary reason why I’ve been coming for the last 8 or 9 months. There has been a change, post Christmas, of senior management. A change in overall philosophy. We are a partner with the City and county of SF. We will participate in that partnership where appropriate and will continue to do so such as attending these meetings.


Comr. Brooks – The 93 recommendations and the 500+ action items are to be completed through the mini campaign?


Bob Jenkins – No. Those items came out of a study of the master plan in 2007. We intend to put the animals in geographic areas as found in nature. Right now, for instance, the lions, are in the Asia section of the zoo. The intent is to have each area have animals and plants found in only those areas.


Comr. Stephens – Will those items, from the Master Plan, come before the Joint Zoo, (JZ)?     


Bob Jenkins – The Master Plan and its implementation has to come before JZ. It is required in the Lease & Management Agreement.


Comr. Stephens – What about the 500 action items?


Bob Jenkins – The staff has designated and they have to come up with recommendations of what they want to do. Each item will come before JZ when a solution has been found.


Comr. Stephens - You said that the changes in management meant a change in management philosophy. What changes in philosophy are now in place?


Bob Jenkins – A more transparent zoo. My presence at these meetings,  which I do not control contrary to accusations nor would I want to. This Commission serves an important and vital function. Three Commissioners have accepted invitations to visit the zoo and meet staff. All Commissioners are welcome for behind-the-scenes tours and talk with zoo staff privately. Very different attitude now. Is a recognition that we are a partner with the City.


Comr. Stephens – Glad to hear that enrichment efforts will be done by the curators rather than the zoo vet.


Bob Jenkins – This will free up her time and allow her to be far more efficient.


Comr. Stephens – Dr Spinelli commented at the last JZ that it wasn’t just about more space but including enrichment in that increased space. It sounds like the issue of enrichment is being taken seriously.


Bob Jenkins – It always was a focus for Dr. Jencek but the new system will give enrichment greater emphasis. Have found that perfume such as Obsession is an enrichment for lions, tigers, and bears. They love it. Space is seen as a panacea. That is not true for all animals. Lions sleep 20-22  hours a day. Have seen lion exhibits with huge amount of space yet they use only a fifth. At the Oakland Zoo, their elephant exhibit is in a relatively small space. Their enrichment program makes their elephant exhibit successful.


Comr. Stephens – There was a group of squirrel monkeys at Stanford that has lost funding and were slated to be euthanized. The SF Zoo agreed to take them in and found a donor to fix up the exhibit area for them in the South American Aviary. That is a good example of a rescue.


Bob Jenkins – We also will be participating in the squirrel monkey species survival plan with the AZA. The females have been shipped off to breed with other males. The twenty males remaining are unique belonging to a unique subspecies.


Comr. Hemphill – Some of the criticism of the zoo seems to have had an effect on the direction  the zoo is taking now. Do you have any way to listen to critical feedback now from people that come to the zoo?


Bob Jenkins – Absolutely. We knew what the answer was because we have the clinical results, the animal care records, interaction with the care givers, and with the on site veterinarian we could have blown off the criticism in one fell swoop. Instead we choose to reexamine what we are doing and make sure what we are doing is correct. Discourse is needed for the questions raised. It’s listening then it’s hearing and you have to understand the other persons point of view. I believe I do. One has to be willing to listen and reexamine and the zoo has done that.


Comr. Hemphill – What is the best way to contact the zoo with questions?


Bob Jenkins – Write or e-mail me. I answer every question I get. Issues brought to this  Commission and to JZ have hardly ever been given to the zoo directly. We want discourse with persons that have concerns. Look them in the eye.


Comr. Hemphill – Can the public ask questions?


Bob Jenkins – Yes, I’ll answer every one. To date we have had very few questions and little or no interaction from the venue of the critics. I prefer one on one interaction. We can go down to any exhibit in question and look at it together. We may disagree but will at least have had an understanding.


Comr. Hemphill – Have you had any interactions of the activists in question?


Bob Jenkins – Only with the three Commissioners.


Comr .Hemphill – Is is possible to have that interaction?


Bob Jenkins – Yes. One on one is what is required. This  Commission or anyone can send any question or concern and it will be answered.


Comr. Stephens – Perhaps that was not the way it was in the past. That is a good change.


5 A) Public Comment


Lisa Vittori – Calling the enclosures of these animals ‘exhibits’ is still the language of the circus. Animals are kept in captivity for our entertainment. As to size of the enclosures, it’s not about size but about socialization with other animals as dogs do in this City when they go to dog parks etc. Positive that zoo animals are not getting that kind of enrichment. Thanks Mr. Jenkins for coming here every month to a public largely hostile to the zoo. Asks if Mr. Jenkins could have a group walk-through with the public that is here tonight. Questions the results of the public survey on what it is actually telling the zoo.


L-Danyielle Yacabucci – Disagrees about space requirements. Animals brought up in a small space have a hard time adjusting to a larger space. Uncomfortable with describing conditions as ‘adequate’. Pacing is pacing. If the public thinks the zoo is a great thing, there is a lot of work to do to educate the public. Questions why ADA had to sue the zoo. There should have been attempts at talking first. A lot of money can be misspent on building without input from the public. Would like to see details of the survey. Who did it? Who was surveyed, etc?


Richard Fong – Wants to know about how the zoo will market its Asian exhibits to Asian communities in SF. Didn’t hear much from Mr. Jenkins that could relate to. Didn’t hear “we” in the dialogue, only “I”.


Public comment closed.


7. Unfinished Business


7 A) Continuation of discussion and possible action to recommend to the board that they pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of cats, dogs and possibly other small animals in pet stores. Ordinance is intended to stop the sale of dogs and cats from puppy mills  as well as decrease euthanasia rates of other small animals in city shelters.


Comr. Gerrie – Last month our Commission voted to recommend a ban on the sale of dogs and cats in SF including a ban on selling certain small animals not from rescues or shelters. That part was not included in the agenda so we are revisiting the issue this month. Our intention was two-fold. First, was to endorse a compassionate, symbolic as well as preemptive ordinance to stop the sale now and in the future of puppy mill dogs and cats in SF. Only one store in SF currently sells puppies not from shelters or rescues.

Our second intent was to include other animals, many wind up at ACC which cares for them and are eventually euthanized or taken by rescues. If we could stop the sale of “other” animals, they would not wind up at ACC. We felt that banning “others” now would be more doable along with banning the sale of dogs and cats. A separate ordinance just for “others” may prove difficult to pass.

    What was missing from our discussion and decision last month was hearing from pet stores that would be affected. I’ve talked with the three big pet stores in SF that sell small animals, Petco, Animal Connection, and Pet Central. Representatives from  Petco are here today. Pam and I met with Petco and ACC last week to talk about the ban and possible alternatives in which Petco and the other stores would take ACC’s unwanted “others” and sell them in their stores. Similar to the adoption Pact that ACC has with SPCA. It has been illegal to sell rabbits in SF since 1978. Petco recently announced they would only be selling rabbits from shelters and rescues nationwide. An ordinance banning the sale of “others” may be ineffective as they would still be for sale just outside the city. Are there any comments or questions from Commissioners before I invite our speakers up?


Comr. Hemphill – Rabbits can also be obtained just across the border.


Comr. Brooks – The declawing ban was also effective only in SF. But we felt it was important. If the pet stores took ACC’s animals, would be concerned about the quality of care in the pet stores.


Comr. Gerrie – Petco seemed very willing to work now with ACC to take their animals versus waiting for an ordinance.


Comr. Brooks – Would the Adoption Pact be in addition to the ban or a substitution?


Comr. Gerrie – A substitution. We need to hear from Petco in order to make a possible recommendation. Lori Feazell and Kevin Whalen will be speaking for  Petco.


Kevin Whalen – Communication and Public Affairs for Petco – With Lori Feazell, Director of animal care and education for Petco since 2005. She served previously as an animal enforcement officer for 22 years. Petco operates over 1000 stores across the country. Has two stores in SF. Here to express views of pet ban. Petco has never sold dogs and cats. Currently does not sell rabbits. Works with over 6500 animal welfare groups across the country. Hosts adoption  events weekly. As a result, helps to find homes for 200,000 animals a year that might otherwise be euthanized. Petco has a “think adoption first philosophy” adopting before buying. Store policy is to take back any animal no matter how long since purchase or even if not purchased at Petco. Animal is placed in quarantine for 72 hours then offered for adoption.

  A ban on small animals is not a good idea. A person can just go outside the City to purchase the animal. A ban will also not solve shelter over population and euthanasia rates. People will still relinquish animals. A ban will not promote behavior change. The two Petco stores in SF sell up to 10,000 animals a year excluding fish. Was told that ACC has about 900 ‘smalls’ surrendered in last fiscal year. Including the other pet stores in SF, the number of smalls surrendered is relatively low as to the number purchased. The desire for smalls will not go away. Petco willing to work together to increase adoptions so smalls don’t have to be euthanized. Passing a law will not diminish the desire to have pets. 62% of homes in the U.S. have a least one companion animal. Just passing a law to limit the availability just won’t work. People will find a way to get them. Outside the City or underground. An example of this is Ca law that bans ferrets yet there are apx. 100,000 in CA today. Some groups support not owning pets at all. That would just drive the buying of them underground, the work to protect and safeguard would be out of public view. Does see a solution in SF. To  increase and optimize, to find every small  an adoptive home.


Lori Feazell – Is in charge of Petco’s “Think adoption first” philosophy. Partner’s with 4000 groups that are doing dogs, cats, and smalls. Loves the idea of having a Petco store that only does adoptions but there are not enough animals available. Recently tried to set up the Colma Petco to do adoptions with Peninsula Humane Society but they didn’t have the animals available. Silicon Valley SPCA is placing animals in San Jose;s Petco stores.   Meeting last week with ACC was hopeful to take ACC’s animals and put them up for adoption. Has state-of-the-art facilities. Could start tomorrow. Petco would like to see animals adopted versus euthanized. Has worked at ACC and Peninsula Humane society. Understand dilemma of partnering with a pet store. But could save many animals lives. A ban would take the business underground and out of sight of the ACC officers. An adoption option would be better with Petco.


Comr. Brooks – As to your “Think adoption first” program, how does that work with your current animals you have for sale? Are you working with small animal rescues now? Or, increasing that in the future?


Lori Feazell – We currently partner with small animal rescue throughout the country. We also have weekend adoption events. We also do horse adoptions.


Comr. Brooks – Do you have a sense if, for example, guinea pigs are being both offered by you and a rescue, does the public go towards rescues or your animals?


Lori Feazell – We have adoption kiosks in our store, so if we don’t have the actual animal in the store we can direct the customer to the rescue.


Comr. Routhier – What role does Petco play in the spay/neuter of small animals?


Lori Feazell – The Petco foundation sponsors spay/neuter efforts across the country. When we sell live animals, we do not sell opposite sex. We do not alter any of our animals in our stores but we do give info to consumers on spay/neuter.


Comr. Routhier – What about health issues associated with smalls when they are not altered?


Lori Feazell – We have a care sheet handed out with the purchase of smalls that address health concerns.


Comr. Routhier – Where do you procure your smalls?


Lori Feazell – We have vendors across the U.S, that raise and breed smalls. They have to pass a rigorous screening to become a Petco vendor. Petco visits each vendor at least once a year unannounced for inspection for health and sanitation.


Comr. Routhier – Do you have limitations as to how far an animal is shipped across country?


Lori Feazell – We don’t have limitations but do prefer they be truck-delivered. Vehicles have to be temperature controlled.


Comr. Routhier – As to the smalls brought in, do you have an age limit?


Lori Feazell – We have an age and a weight limit. Our advisory council has come up with those guidelines.


Comr. Routhier– How do you deal with the animals with aggressive behavior that potentially won’t sell?


Lori Feazell – We have a socialization policy where associates can work to socialize those animals. If it remains aggressive it is returned to the vendor. It is not euthanized but will be used for breeding.


Comr Routhier – They breed the aggressive animal?


Lori Feazell – I hear your point. It does not happen often.


Comr. Routhier – Have seen a lot  of smalls at Petco. Some do not sell at an early age and don’t get that social interaction. What do you do with that inventory? Those smalls that do not sell?


Lori Feazell – Rarely happens that an animals stays at Petco for a long time. Smalls do get enrichment in the store.


Comr. Routhier – When do you have associates in the store?


Emmanuel Lara – Potrero Petco General Manager – Deliveries can come in very early in the morning and we do have workers trained in animal maintenance to unload the trucks. We have a weekly schedule for complete animal care. Change bedding, etc.


Comr. Routhier – What specific education is provided to the public for care of the animals? What education is provided to Petco staff to educate the public?


Emmanuel Lara – We have Companion Animal Specialist Training, CAST. Training starts with computer based training. A new trainee works under an experienced sales associate. All personnel promote safe animal care as well as educators. Stress informing parents of responsibility of taking care of a small animal for their child. Does not sell any animal to anyone under 18. If a customer does choose to buy or adopt and animal it comes with a care sheet to understand the animals needs and how much time and care the animal will need. Welcomes any adoption group that wants to set up in the store.


Comr. Routhier – Partnerships are a great idea. Have talked with many people in pet stores that did not know that smalls were available at ACC. They knew about dogs and cats at ACC but not smalls. If rescue groups are not in your store is there a way to promote that knowledge?


Emmanuel Lara – We have a Petfinder kiosk. You can put in what kind and age of animal you a looking for….


Comr. Routhier – I’m not sure people would use the finder kiosk versus seeing what is available right in the store.


Emmanuel Lara – We steer them towards the kiosk when they ask questions. Teachers come in and inquire. It’s part of our training to encourage people to use the kiosk. We also refer to ACC for dogs and cats.


Comr. Brooks – Do you refer them to ACC for the smalls as well?


Emmanuel Lara – Not as much. People want rodents to feed to their snakes. We try and sell them frozen. People coming in for smalls want to get set up right away with cages etc. We are working on directing them to ACC.


Comr. Hemphill – Do you inform people of the life span of the animal?


Emmanuel Lara – Yes it is on the care sheet of every animal we have. It’s also on our computers. The info also includes their health, red flags to look for, what their appetite is.


Comr. Hemphill – What would the weekly order of animals look like? Numbers and types?


Emmanuel Lara – 30 to 45 a week of each sex of mice. 2 to 3 for hamsters and guinea pigs. We don’t order more than we have space for.


Comr. Hemphill – Do the mice mostly go to the snakes?


Emmanuel Lara – Yes.


Comr., Brooks – Do you keep a data base of who you sell to in order to avoid people obtaining breeding pairs?


Emmanuel Lara – We have a Companion Animal Purchase card. They sign and state that they will not be using the animals for breeding. The sales associates often recognize someone trying to come back and buy another animal then the manager comes out informing them that they will not sell the animal they wanted. If there is a sense that the person may not be a good guardian, our associate will come get the manager. Questions will be asked to see if the person knows how to take care of the animal he has.


Comr. Stephens – How often do you refuse sale to someone?


Emmanuel Lara – A couple of times a month.


Comr. Gerrie – We need to talk about about Petco’s past and the recent lawsuit. We need to talk about what prevented ACC and Petco from partnering up and how Petco will prevent similar occurrences in the future.


Kevin Whalen – You are referring to the settlement reach last week. Petco got a wakeup call in 2004 that resulted in an injunction and a cultural change in how we take care of animals in a much more sophisticated and rigorous way. The settlement last week was around two components. Animal care and pricing discrepancies that was concerning what was the posted price and the scanned price at checkout being inconsistent. On the animal care side there was no specific incident filed of animal care neglect. Any issues have been identified and corrective action has been taken. It is important to us and our animals to get it right.


Lori Feazell – Had been helping in the investigation of Petco in 2004 working at ACC. Standards of practice have improved as well as education of our associates. Puts name behind Petco after being in animal welfare for 23 years. Petco is willing to change and puts animals first. Animals are checked 13 times a day. All associates know what to clean and when. A vet must be called within 24 hours for any sick animal unless an emergency when the call is immediate. During the lawsuit, was never issued a citation for animal cruelty, care, nor neglect. There were some paperwork issues. Associates didn’t initial something. We’ve learned from our mistakes. When an ACC officer visits a Petco store, sees the report and makes changes if needed. 80% to 90% of ACC’s visits have a positive outcome.


Comr. Brooks – Are you against a ban on just cats and dogs or any type of animal?


Kevin Whalen – One concern about a ban on cats and dogs is not all breeders are puppy mill breeders. There are responsible breeders.


Comr. Brooks – Do the care sheets get regularly reviewed and updated when needed?


Lori Feazell – We review them annually and take in input from everyone for consideration.


Comr. Brooks – Are the same care sheets used in all your stores or just SF?


Lori Feazell -  They are used throughout the country. Own staff reviews them.


Comr. Hemphill – Do you know what percentage of your receipts are from supplies and from live animals?


Kevin Whalen – Greater percentage of sales would be from supplies. We also don’t sell dogs and cats in any of our stores.


Comr. Stephens – Do you a guesstimate of the percentage is from live animals? 10%?


Kevin Whalen – Definitely in that area.


Comr. Gerrie – I’ve invited representatives from rescue groups as well.


Carisa Brungraber – Rattie Ratz Rescue – When we ask where adopters found out about us there is never a Petco mentioned. They find us on line, or through Petfinder, or ACC and other shelters. People just want to adopt the rat babies at pet stores. Have never seen signage saying  go to ACC for adult rats. Thanks Comr. Routhier recommending signage promoting the rescues and ACC. One suggestion, brought up to the northern California rat community, is if a ban is not possible limiting the store to have just one gender of a particular species. We often get calls from recent buyers of rats, from pet stores, that were pregnant needing help from us. People can go outside the City to buy an animal if there is a ban but it is important to send a statement. On the rat care sheet at Petcos, Rattie Ratz has never been listed as a resource which is one of the largest rat rescue networks in the nation. Checked the rat  care sheet of an East Bay Petco recently. Found the same information as in previous years and the information was incorrect as to a rat’s age and dietary requirements. That could sway people to think they are easier to care for than they are. The care sheet should also tell people to go to the vet with medical concerns. Biggest issue with Petco is their quarantine period of 72 hours. That time is far too short to know if an animal has a fatal disease. A virus in rats called SDA,, needs a quarantine of two weeks to detect. SDA outbreaks have become more prevalent in CA. This website has a map of where the outbreaks are,  . SDA is airborne and very hard to control. At Rattie Ratz, adopter signs agreement to take the rat in to a vet with in 72 hours to make sure it is healthy. That should be s standard requirement. Another alternative to a ban would be a holding period to avoid impulse buying. Glad Petco’s policy is that a buyer be over 18 in order to purchase an animal. Supports one gender and a waiting period of about five days. Shelters and rescue would be exempt because they have a different screening process.


Comr. Gerrie – Are you supporting a ban or having Petco work with you?


Carisa Brungraber – In favor of a ban because selling animals in stores devalues their lives.


Comr. Routhier – Petco brought up the idea that a ban would cause the trade to go underground. Current safeguards would then not exist.


Carisa Brungraber – There are always accidental litters. Don’t see it going underground. Look at rabbits, not allowed to be sold in stores yet windup in shelters. Doesn’t believe rabbits are being bred underground. With small animals, one of their survival traits is large litters.  Numbers can increase quickly. People are not doing it to make money but because they don’t know better.


Elizabeth Young  - Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue – Thanks Commission for recognizing pet over population crisis. Is a full time volunteer 7 days a week. Has 100’s of colleagues rescuing birds night and day. Rescues birds from shelters, abandoned at vets, set free, Birds live a long time, eg., budgies can live more than 20 years.  Birds are extremely intelligent and emotional. All kept birds, no matter what kind, suffer horribly when not taken care of well. Many items for sale at pet stores, for birds, are not safe. There are no restrictions on what can be sold. Sees many solutions; more partnerships, more awareness, show/publicize when an animal is euthanized at ACC. Mickaboo screens adopters, educates potential adopters, mentors adopters. Mickaboo does not have a shelter nor a facility. Please include birds in your considerations. Perhaps a moratorium on sales before a ban, so people will  first try to find a rescue before taking their bird to ACC. The other animal intake rate would be much higher. There is a big problem.


Comr. Gerrie – Reads from e-mail from Elizabeth of part she did not speak about. “If pets are to be sold, tax their sale and fund rescues and vet care and adoption center so that the true cost of selling pets is not passed on to those of us who would never buy a pet when so many are homeless.”


Elizabeth Young – Thank you for reminding me. The true cost of a bird sold  is not reflected in the price. Mickaboo spends $15,000 a month, every month, in avian vet care alone. That money is all fund raised. Don’t look on the rescues as a solution. We do the work because it needs to be done. Cleaning a mess I have not created.


Comr. Stephens – Reads statement from “Pet industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), represents thousands of member associations, organizations, corporations and individuals involved in the commercial pet trade. PIJAC represents the interests of manufacturers, distributors, breeders, retailers, and pet owners in CA and SF itself. PIJAC cares about animals. It has an animal care certification program used in the pet trade, shelters and humane societies. PIJAC promotes legislation, both federal and state, for the welfare of pets and works closely with USDA enforcing the Federal Animal Welfare Act. PIJAC has battled misconceptions that pet store puppies generally come from substandard facilities. Most pet stores puppy buyers are highly satisfied with a happy, healthy puppy. PIJAC endorses Commissioner’s suggestions of obtaining pets from shelters and private breeders as alternatives. Surveys show less than 10% dogs and cats come from pet stores. Adoption is an excellent choice for some pet owners. Many shelter animals were relinquished because of behavior or health issues. Adoption is also not an option for persons wanting a specific breed. The concern about animals ending up in sheltersshould not be focused on pet stores. Very few relinquished animals come from pet stores based on studies by UC Davis and National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy. A Cornell University study showed that puppies from other sources were no more healthier that puppies from pet stores. There is no rational basis for targeting pet stores. They are already heavily regulated. PIJAC helped pass legislation in Ca, the Pet Store Animal Care Act. The pet warranty law covering dogs from pet stores is the most stringent in the US. What purpose would this ban serve? It doesn’t protect consumers. In fact it deprives consumers from looking  to a pet store as an alternative for a pet. Pet store puppies are as healthy as from any other source. The proposed ban is misplaced and unsupported by all available facts. PIJAC is sympathetic to the concerns motivating this discussion. Substandard facilities do exist supplying pet stores as well as substandard breeders and shelters. PIJAC is working to ensure humane standards in all facilities. Singling out pet stores based on anecdotal evidence will not eliminate substandard conditions. It is only a “feel good” approach diverting attention away from effective solutions. We urge the Commission to not move forward with the proposal.” Michael Maddox, Esq. Vice President of Governmental Affairs, PIJAC


Comr. Hemphill – Moved by comments about birds. This topic needs more than one meeting.


Comr. Brooks – Also moved by the plight of birds.


Rebecca Katz – We rely heavily on Mickaboo for care and placement of birds. People do not know to come to ACC for birds.


Comr. Stephens – Is leaning towards a ban of small animals as well as birds from what was heard tonight. Could also recommend taxing the sale of animals if it is allowed to continue. Also consider a waiting period and having a single sex at a store.


Comr. Routhier – Pet stores don’t charge much for a small animal so a tax would not raise much money. Like the idea of pet stores supporting financially the rescues but would not generate a lot.


Comr. Stephens – Likes the partnership idea but not with Petco.


Comr. Gerrie – Favors the partnership idea. It would not be restricted to the five small animals we suggested a ban on. A ban is like killing a fly with a sledgehammer. The intent of the ban was to prevent animals from winding up at ACC with the cost of care and possible euthanasia.


Comr. Hemphill – A lot of energy could be used in other ways if the number of animals from ACC decreased and did not need to go to Petco at all.


Comr. Routhier – Has been to many rescue groups and there is no shortage of animals, just a shortage of foster homes which links to a lack of awareness by the public of the need to place those animals in homes.


7 A) PublicComment


Lisa – Volunteer at SPCA and ACC – Has worked in shelters for many years and have never seen anyone referred by Petco or any other pet store. As to going over borders to obtain a banned animal, it is a first step and an impetus to change social consciousness.

Words are important. “Exhibits” sets a perception of animals on display at zoos. “Guardian” is much more positive compared to “owner”.  Is new to working with small animals at ACC. Has learned a lot. Compared self to a potential buyer of a small animal who knows nothing about the care needed. Suggest people volunteer first rather than purchase right away.


Nadine May – – Representing fixSF supports ban. Thanks Elizabeth for expressing plight of surrendered birds and the people that take care of them because they have to not because they want to.


L-Danyielle Yacabucci – Has kept many animals over the years. Shocked that smalls are not spay/neutered. Supports a ban. Pet stores do not make sure the adopted animal is going to a good home. Rattie Ratz does. Has asked Petco to put up signage that there are great animals to adopt at ACC but it has never been done. Taxing is not the answer. The problem is people don’t know there is a problem. That cages are too small. That animals at the zoo are suffering. If pet stores have to sell animals that must partner with rescues.


Lisa Vittori – Favorite line tonight was, “The Northern California Rat community”. Thanks Petco for coming. Partner had a cockatiel. Didn’t realize how much work and care it needed until living with it. Confining animals in small cages is cruel. Petco may be perpetuating the idea that animals are playthings. Animals live for a long time but that is not considered when they are bought. Parents only think about making their kids happy. A waiting period is a good idea. Animals that have more space and intellectual needs should not be for sale.


Public comment closed


Comr. Gerrie – Can Lori speak to Nadine’s request for the details of a possible agreement between  Petco and ACC? It was more than just inviting rescues in.


Lori Feazell – We can partner with not only ACC but any rescue group. If we could fill an entire store with adoptions we would, but if not, will sell animals. We would dedicate habitat or space for those adoptions in both SF stores as well as in Colma. We can start immediately.


Comr. Hemphill – Can you tell me your numbers of how many small animals you sell?


Lori Feazell – Roughly 10,000 animals between the two stores, excluding fish. That includes white mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas, all species of birds. Petco advocates that mice for snake food be frozen. But some people will use live animals for food.


Pam Hemphill – A lot of that 10,000 would be mice?


Lori Feazell – Don’t have the actual numbers. The lowest number sold would be  chinchillas.


Comr. Gerrie – Need time to consider the information we’ve heard tonight. Not prepared to propose anything at this time.


Comr. Hemphill – We probably still have more information to hear.


Comr. Stephens – Personal inclination is to support a ban including birds, small animals, and dogs and cats. 


Rebecca Katz – Concerned in seeing small animals coming in from pet stores. Not having that availability would lend itself to education. Not sure about a partnership between Petco and ACC modeled after the pact between SPCA and ACC, since Petco does not have full time staff and on site veterinarians that would allow us to feel comfortable with having our animals over there.


Comr. Gerrie – Wanted to mention that you have been appointed Director of ACC from interim director. Congratulations.


7. General Public Comment


No public comment


8 & 9 Calendar items and task allotments


Comr. Stephens – We’ll continue discussion on a possible pet ban. We’ll also welcome three new Commissioners.


No public comment


10. Adjournment  8:50 PM


Respectfully submitted by

Philip Gerrie

Commission Secretary














Last updated: 2/10/2015 3:44:32 PM