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July 8, 2010

 

1. Call to Order and Roll Call

5:40 PM

 

Present Commissioners, Susanna Russo, Geneva Page, Andrea Brooks, Sally Stephens, Philip Gerrie, Pam Hemphill, Sally Stephens, Jack Aldridge DVM, Kat Brown – ACC

 

Absent Commissioners, William Herndon SF Police, Bob Palacio – Rec. & Park

 

2. General Public Comment

 

Richard Fong. – Concerned about park rangers and ACC officers in GG Park responding to dangerous dogs incidents. Perhaps should be given tasers or pepper spray to use.

 

Public comment closed

 

3. Approval of Draft minutes for June 10, 2010

 

No Commission nor Public Comment

 

Minutes approved unanimously.

 

4. Chairperson’s report and opening remarks

 

Comr. Stephens – Welcomes new Commissioners.

 

Comr. Brooks – Training opportunity for disaster relief certification for animals in SF.

 

No public comment

 

5. Unfinished Business

 

A) Continuation of discussion and possible action to recommend to the Board that they pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats and possibly other small animals, including birds, 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. Stephens – This discussion has grown out of previous meetings efforts to decrease euthanasia rates of otherwise healthy adoptable animals besides dogs and cats. We like to hear from all view points. This is the fourth month of discussing this issue. The media has said that our agenda is to get rid of pets and companion animals. That is not true.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Story about this item had appeared in the Chronicle but was not reported accurately. The issue is complex and the paper gave a simplified version. Three years ago I brought to this Commission a resolution condemning the sale of eggs from battery-caged hens. I had not known about the issue until just a short time before. Three years later the Governor has signed AB 1437 prohibiting the selling of eggs from battery-caged hens expanding on Prop 2 that outlawed the production in the State. Times change. This issue, tonight, has grown in three months from a proposal to ban the sale of dogs and cats from puppy mills to considering including other animals as well, in order to be inclusive and comprehensive in our recommendation to the Supervisors. Our Commission voted unanimously to include the ‘smalls’, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, and chinchillas.  The reason to include ‘smalls’  was to lower the number that are surrendered and euthanized at ACC every year.  Representatives from the largest pet store chain in SF, Petco selling ‘smalls’, came last month and made a case against a ban saying their new policies significantly lower their ‘smalls’ winding up at ACC. We had talked about a possible partnership arrangement between ACC and Petco, and other pet stores, to take ACC’s ‘smalls’ and sell them in their stores. There were problems with such an arrangement for ACC so that will not be a possibility. We invited rescues last month to hear about the issues from their side. A representative from Mickaboo, a bird rescue, told the plight and suffering of exotic birds, and caged birds in general. Until then, we had not considered including a ban on birds so the item was tabled until this month. I have learned a lot of the unseen world of exotic birds this last month. The amount of attention this issue is getting tells me that there is concern that if SF adopts a ban on birds it will spread to other cities. The pet industry is a multi billion dollar business and a perception that there is something wrong and inhumane with producing animals as commodities will hurt profits although they make most of their money from pet food and equipment. To frame this as a right to buy whatever we want is disingenuous. When do we stop exploiting the buying and selling of animals or, at least, consider the welfare of the animals first?

 

Linda Fisher – IDA Captive Bird Campaign Director – Has dealt with captive bird issues for 25 years. Founded first avian protection organization. Started when 11 years old. Went into a pet shop and saw a dying budgie. It was being ignored and left to die. Tried to call attention to its suffering.  Started to cry when no one came. Was then escorted out of the store by two security guards. Vowed, on the way home, to stand up for the captive birds. Has done so since then. Not much has changed in last 25 years in captive bird trade. Birds are purchased, trashed, and dumped. Works with large collections of captive birds. Millions of birds enter the captive bird trade. Only a few survive. Breeders over breed to allow for high mortality rate. Pet store is one level of chance for survival. A home is another level for survival. Most buyers ill prepared to keep birds. Budgies die by the millions due to lack of care yet are the third most intelligent of all avian species. Would love to see SF be a leader in this crisis. Don’t see birds in shelter because they perish before reaching the shelter. A ban is way overdue.

 

Comr. Stephens – If someone treats a bird responsibly, should they be allowed to have a bird in your opinion?

 

Linda Fisher – For every person that is loving and responsible many, many more are not. Birds are dying from neglect, malnutrition , physical abuse, and starvation. IDA is encouraging to stop breeding and stop buying. Adopt and rescue instead. The crisis is hidden. Bird owners become hoarders when the first bird doesn’t respond quite right. They get another. Birds are wild animals and don’t live up to expectations. They get hormonal surges and they become aggressive and dangerous. The bird then is abandoned and winds up at a rescue sanctuary. There are very few in the US and all are overfilled. If you want a bird and are responsible, adopt a rescue. Don’t breed any more birds.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Have been exploring other options that are short of a ban. Is there anything short of a ban that would be effective in your opinion?

 

Linda Fisher – If we could stop breeding birds we would still have plenty of birds in 25 to 30 years. They would be better taken care of then if there were fewer. Right now there is not another alternative. They are wild animals. They do not belong in homes.  Stop the breeding and stop the selling.

 

Mira Tweti – Animal welfare journalist – Has written for LA Times, NY Times, Village Voice.  Wrote book on domestic parrot trade called “Parrots and People”. Took 5 years to write. Is about the business of birds in the US. Primary problem with keeping a bird in the home is that they are flock animals. From birth to death they are never out of ear sight or eye sight of  another parrot. Bird conservation experts worldwide say the worst thing you can do to a parrot is keep it alone in a cage. Because of the cost, most people only buy one bird. Because cages are not attractive in a home, most people buy the smallest possible cage. The opposite is  true at parrot rescues. Rescues give parrots as much room as possible. Especially helpful for birds with behavior problems from being kept alone in a small cage. Birds will pluck their feathers and self mutilate. This is very common. One in ten kept-parrots pluck their feathers. Have tried to stop by giving Prozac and wearing protective collars around the neck. Researchers have concluded that plucking is equal to humans cutting themselves. It releases endorphins and is the only thing they have control over.  Plucking is never seen in the wild. Is a direct result of captivity. Parrots are wild animals living in domestic situations. Parrots did not come into the US, in large numbers, until after WW 2 when plane travel became common. A recent phenomena. Advertisers sell parrots as decorative items for their houses color scheme. Did story about Petco freezing unwanted animals. Exposed by Vicky Guldbech of SF ACC. Found to be the practice across the country. Suspects it might still be. Was done because if a low cost animal, such as a parakeet, gets sick, it is not worth it to take it to the vet. Vet bill can be $150 for a $25 bird. Very few Board certified avian vets in the US. Of 75,00 vets in the US, 253 are board certified avian. They are specialists and are much more expensive than regular veterinarians. Parrots make a lot of noise. Trying to make it be quiet will make it angry and it will want to bite. If it bites every time the owner reaches into the cage to handle it, it will never come out. They often wind up in a garage covered by a blanket. Has done over 500 interviews with bird owners for her book.  Most people do not keep their birds for longer than six months to a year. Parrots live up to 80 years. And will wear out their welcome sooner versus later. If the bird is lucky, will wind up in a rescue sanctuary. Shows picture of a sanctuary in RI with 500 parrots. There are over a 1000 parrot rescue in the US now. Started doing research 15 years ago. When first started, rescue received calls once or twice a month. Then once or twice a week.  Currently rescues are getting calls daily and turning down birds. Reasons are many. “Bought it for son who is now in college”. “Moving”. “Got divorced”. “Got married”. “Had a baby”. Bottom line is there a now 1000’s of rescue birds. Anyone that wants one can have one for the cost of an adoption fee. As with dogs, as long as dogs are available for adoption, the idea of breeding dogs doesn’t make sense. Not all dogs are bred in a puppy mill but all birds are bred in a parrot mill. Shows picture of wooden boxes in trailer each with a breeding bird inside. Breeders start off with good intentions but each reinvents the wheel. Common practice now is to keep birds in the dark. Without outside stimulation, the thinking is, that is all they will have to do. Breed. These are parrot mills. It is proven that only a rare person can meet a parrot’s demands. They need enrichments. There are so many unwanted parrots right now that people could have as many as they want for the next 20 years. Many more unwanted birds are predicted in the near future. Average parrot has 7 owners in first ten years of its life. The reason they are not turned over to the pound is that they were so expensive they are, instead, given to relatives or friends. A ban would go far to protect them. They have no protection now. It is hard to prove abuse. Animal welfare people entering into a home can easily tell if a dog is abused but not a bird. Can’t tell about a bird. They have no training and are afraid of them. SB 1357 was passed requiring information to be given about an animal when purchased. It started out to include seminars on pet care, a waiting period before purchase, and fees. It got watered down to be meaningless. Anything less than a ban will not work. There is no way to enforce half measures unless ACC inspects every week. In 1992 the Wild Bird Conservation Act was passed saying no more wild birds could come in from the wild. Critics of the Act said that smuggling would increase. They were wrong. Smuggling stopped because smuggled birds came in with other birds and no birds were coming in. Same with a ban. As soon as something is illegal, the average person will think twice. A ban could possibly save the lives of millions of animals as it will spread since SF is a leader in animal welfare.

 

Comr. Brooks – Our recommendations are aimed at just SF. Received feedback last month that a ban’s effect would address a huge problem elsewhere. But would impact SF’s birds and especially responsible small pet store owners who are not a part of the problem.

 

Mira Tweti – Articles I’ve written for the LA Times have helped pass 4 pieces of legislation on the State level. One bill, outlawing the selling of baby birds, was opposed by many small pet store owners saying they would go out of business not being able to sell baby birds. It didn’t happen. The money is made in items for the animal such as food and products such as perches and toys. There are always casualties in this sort of legislation. The ban on importation in 1992 put quarantine stations, and those affiliated, out of business. The US was importing 500,000 birds every year. Many lost their jobs. PIJAC, the pet industry lobbying group, estimated that in 1996 there were 40 million parrots in the US. Birds may be added to the Animals Welfare Act that currently has no protection. Currently bird breeders have said they are putting 2 million more birds on the market every year. Total current number are 50 to 60 million parrots now in the US. Interviewed Joy Mench, of UC Davis, a leading bird researcher in the US, talked about a definition of animal welfare. “It is not how well you are treating an animal. It is looking at what the animal does in the wild and then how it is being kept in captivity. If it is a huge difference, animal welfare is not good.” A parrot would never live indoors. Animal welfare relates to each specific animal. To a parrot the difference is night and day. Supports a ban even if it affects some businesses. If Petco makes 97% of its money from ancillary materials, should be true for other pet stores. Comparing to the number of animals being helped by a ban it is worth to look to the animal welfare side.

 

Karen Watkins – Mickaboo Bird Rescue – Has 30 Amazons in foster care currently. 20 are from SF. Has only one foster actually in SF. They do take the Amazons that are medically needy and need vet care. Not seeing a balance of support in SF. People think they can feed an Amazon seeds for its whole life. Amazons come in, from a seed diet, their bones are rubbery, and they die an early painful death. Knows there are small stores that breed birds but believes they can make the transition to rescues. They could also offer classes on how to care for animals. Also hears that breeders are not taking their birds back. Good dog breeders take dogs back if the placement does not work out. Supports ban.

 

Teresa Murphy – Guinea pigs are referred to as cavies. Founded and runs the Cavy Spirit guinea pig rescue in San Mateo since 1999. Has relationships with shelters in Northern CA. Has pulled many cavies from SF ACC. Has founded largest internet guinea pig forum with half a million posts. Has created a bigger cage size for guinea pigs that has been accepted worldwide for years.  Almost all guinea pigs surrendered were purchased from pet stores. Statistics of guinea pigs at shelters are misleading. Only lucky ones make it to the shelters. They are often set free and face certain death from starvation, exposure, predators, and poisons. Many shelters in the Bay Area do not accept small animals. One thinks, when getting a small animal, of pet store. Typical pattern, after an impulse buy from a pet store for a child, is to get a phone call six months later asking if they can take it because it is too much work to take care of. Adopting from a shelter saves additional lives because shelter and rescue resources are freed up. Compares the puppy mills, which are bad, to the small animal mills which are horrific. Small animals bring people into pet stores but they make their money on pet supplies, etc. That process is morally bankrupt, treating animals as commodities. Rescues have a huge financial and time burden taking care of the animals sold from pet stores. Needs to stop. Only when there are no more homeless animals in shelters and at rescues should pet stores be allowed to sell more animals. There are so many homeless animals now that cannot keep up with the calls. Volunteers burnt out by both time and money. Great that many people do internet research first but many still buy on impulse and that is the problem.

 

Marcy Schaaf – Founder and director SaveABunny rabbit rescue – Current ban on rabbits has been extremely helpful in keeping the population down. Most shelters get many rabbits. One reason ACC only gets 160 rabbits a year versus 800 is the ban keeps the numbers down. At least half the rabbits that come into SF come from Serramonte Pet Store. This is an emotional issue. Nothing more emotional than going into a shelter and deciding who gets to live or die. This ban is about protecting animals not just profits. Not many people rescue other animals besides cats & dogs. Works with Bay Area shelters to spread the adoptable rabbits equally between shelters and own rescue. Rescue of the other small animals, rats, hamster, guinea pigs, etc. Would love to have pet stores take their adoptables. Rescues clean up the animals sold at pet stores that are not spay/neutered or owners who have inadequate knowledge of care. Everyone can win from this ban.

 

Comr. Stephens – Do you do partnerships with pet stores?

 

Marcy Schaaf – Yes, particularly Pet Food Express because they do not sell any animals. We are reluctant to sell in stores such as Petco since they still sell the rats, chinchillas and other small animals.

 

Comr. Stephens – What do you do in the partnerships?

 

Marcy Schaaf – We have adoption events and teach class in their stores.

 

Comr. Stephens – How do you respond to people just going down to Serramonte and getting their animals there?

 

Marcy Schaaf – Is not against the law to sell an animal and would love to work with Peninsula Humane Society. Goal is, until there are no  more homeless animals, they should not be for sale. Would call Serramonte pet every time a rabbit showed up at ACC. Wewere hung up on. When greed is the motive, not much one can do.

 

Comr. Stephens – Rabbits have been banned since 76? Do you know why?

 

Marcy Schaaf – Believe it had to do with sale of rabbits at Easter. Still dealing with it now. Birth rate of small animals is astronomical. Even if a store sells one sex and not the other, there is no guarantee that they won’t breed.

 

Elizabeth Young – Understands how this could seem outrageous to someone not in animal rescue. However the whole system is broken. We keep breeding and selling cute little animals. They are taken home and the person that bought them grows up and moves away, or they are too noisy, or too destructive. Feels for ACC staff that have to euthanize more and more every day. The rescues are overwhelmed in time and money. Mickaboo has spent 80 K on avian vet bills so far this year. Mickaboo spends a lot of time fund raising and dealing with more birds surrendered. Commends Commission for taking the issue up. Have learned that what was OK in the past, animals performing for our amusement at animal parks, is no longer acceptable. It is cruel to the animals. Appreciated learning a new definition of animal welfare tonight, comparing its life in the wild to its life as a pet. Hard issue to handle. Pet store people are very nice and buying a pet has pleasant childhood memories for many of us. It’s the other side of when that pet is dumped in the park or just set free and not talked about. Few survive but the vast majority die. Mickaboo has, right now, 50 cockatiels for adoption. They can live for 25 years. They have as much intelligence and feelings and emotion and desire as any creature. Has volunteered at ACC and has seen often on surrender cards reason for a cockatiels’ surrender was bad behavior. Mickaboo, right now, has 42 conures, 66 budgies, 23 macaws, Not anti-business  but rather pro animal. Pro mercy. People have gotten it with dogs and cats. Pet stores, in SF, have self-selected to not sell dogs and cats. People get it that the shelters are full of dogs and cats that need homes. Birds are right there. Many more birds have been adopted in the last 20 years than before that time. Birds being bred today are most likely going to be serially homed, surrendered, winding up at a shelter. Please help. 50 cockatiels need homes. Need volunteers to help adopt and foster. Plenty of work to go around. Receive calls about ads on Criag’s list about free birds at garage sales. Doesn’t have time to take care of birds brought in let alone going to garage sales to rescue those birds. Regarding going out of town to buy a banned animal, can’t stop cruelty outside of the City but it is good to stop it within. Proud to live in SF because of what has been done first here. If dogs and cats were confined the way birds are, it would be considered abuse. Even if well taken care of. They need to be in flocks. They need the right balance of sunlight, and nutrients and companionship. Let’s take care of the animals that are already here. Thanks Commission for taking on a hard issue.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How do you screen potential adopters?

 

Elizabeth Young – It is a long hard process. If personally didn’t rescue birds they would be euthanized instead. Will not place an animal that will suffer as a result. First, a written application. Then a bird-care class, a 2 1/2 hour class. Class incorporates latest avian science. Constantly updated. Bird care 10 years ago has been found to be inadequate. After that, a phone screen, a quiz to see what they remember from the class of do’s and don’ts. Class also dispels myths about birds. After phone screening, a home visit. Also, a lot of support and hand-holding along the way.

 

Comr. Stephens – How long does that all take on average?

 

Elizabeth Young – Depends on the adopter and how overwhelmed the unpaid volunteers are at the time. Is a labor of love. Has a current situation where a women wants her bird out of her house now. Mickaboo doesn’t have a spot for it but is afraid of what the woman will do if not taken. Time varies from 2 weeks to six weeks. Depending when a class is available. Advises to be patient and persistent with Mickaboo. Volunteers are busy.

 

Comr. Aldridge – How successful is your program? What percentage are successful matches?

 

Elizabeth Young – Our goal is to find a forever home. By the time a bird gets to Mickaboo it has been bred, purchased, given away, etc. The bird has been through a lot. We want to make very sure it goes to a permanent home. If the adopter can’t take care of it or keep it, Mickaboo wants it back. Mickaboo has been in existence for 15 years. Beginning to see some birds returning originally adopted from Mickaboo. Don’t have statistics. Would be a great project for someone to undertake. Has a much higher success rate than pet stores because people self-select out as they learn what the bird they want requires. A pet bird can be heard around the house. A loud exotic bird can be heard around the neighborhood.

 

Comr. Stephens – Do you do adoption events at pet stores??

 

Elizabeth Young – Mickaboo partners with Petfood Express because they don’t sell birds. Mickaboo’s birds are under strict quarantine so chooses not to sell in pet stores that have birds. Has relationship with Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose, an all-rescue pet shop.

 

Carly Message – Outreach Coordinator for SaveABunny – SF’s ban on rabbits have definitely decreased number of rabbits coming into ACC. Takes rabbits from local shelters to outreach events. Sees the small animal room at ACC always full of hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, etc. Definitely being dumped. Wonders why animals that live only two or three years are being dumped. As an educator about caring for rabbits, recommends returning rabbit cages in favor of exercise pens. Freely works with people who have bought rabbits from pet stores outside of SF. They had no idea how much work was involved in caring for a rabbit.

 

Dr. Elliot Katz – Animal owners should think of themselves as guardians rather than owners of commodities. Thanks Commission for bringing this forward and to the rescues for speaking.

 

Rick French – Owner of Animal Company – Presents petitions signed against a ban. Apx. 2300 signatures gathered in three weeks. Also have 3000 signatures in an online petition. Unaware of ACWC until three weeks ago. Numbers speak for themselves. Will address issue in three ways. First, Mickaboo says that untold number of birds are abandoned, released, put on craigslist all the fault of pet stores. Thinking is that adding an animal should always come from a shelter or rescue. Not always feasible. Mickaboo’s numbers are totally false. They don’t have the facts on paper to back what they say. According to Rebecca Katz, at ACC, only sees 30-40 birds a year at ACC. None have been euthanized. Mickaboo is under false assumptions. Overwhelmed by their own policies. They don’t work with pet stores nor breeders. Animal Company has been in business for 35 years. Took it over 10 years ago. Contacted Mickaboo then. Offered support to them. Response was they did not work with pet stores. Their adoption requirements are arduous at best. Takes months to adopt a bird all the while the adoptee is in a foster home without as much training as the potential adopter. Their intentions are good but policies are misguided. Not far apart, pet stores and rescues. Pet store pays taxes when  a bird is sold. Rescues adopt out for a fee. That fee is not necessarily cheaper than a retail bird would be. Cites case of someone taking a rescued amazon for $900 and waited a year to be accepted. Second, ACC should open their doors to other qualified rescue groups. A rescue, that Animal Company works with, has been told by ACC they only work with Mickaboo.  No one from ACC or any rescue group has been to our store and offered to work with us or asked for our help. No rescue group has ever contacted us for anything. If we work together and educate the public, these issues can be resolved. Recently confiscated rabbits, from the Mission, are being sold, spayed/neutered at ACC for $60. Can buy a rabbit a pet store in Serramonte for $25. Potential buyer will rather go there to buy it cheaper. If ACC lowers adoption fees will find homes for those animals faster. ACC’s cost of caring will be lessened because they are adopted out faster. ACC should have a mobile adoption vehicle. Bring the animals to the people. ACC needs to communicate with the stores. Matter of education not legislation. If ACC would notify the pet stores what is available, would be glad to post it and help find homes. Little difference between pet stores and rescues since both ‘sell’ birds.  Mistake for Commission to recommend a ban. Pet stores contribute jobs, services, and tax revenue to the community. Rescues charge an adoption fee which can be as expensive as buying a bird in a store. Other laws passed in SF; illegal to eat an orange in the bath tub, can’t fly a kite above 10 feet, forbids elephants from strolling down Market St without a leash, have to have a permit to be a cross dresser and, favorite, wipe a car windshield with used underwear. If ban is passed SF would be first city to join that group of laws.

 

Comr. Stephens – Do you educate and screen buyers?

 

Rick French – Try to match right people with the right bird.

 

Comr. Stephens – Have you ever not sold a bird to someone?

 

Rick French – Yes, occasionally.  We have a handout. Offer a free vet visit. Guarantee bird as to health. We breed a lot of the birds ourselves.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Saw poster in Animal Company’s window, “Protect Our Precious Animals”, POPA, would describe rescues as saving our precious animals. Not sure if the right to sell goes in that category. Could that be confusing to all those that signed the petition? How are you protecting our precious animals?

 

Rick French – We protect them no differently than anybody else does. We try to find loving homes for them.

 

Comr. Hemphill – How does not supporting a ban protect our precious animals?

 

Rick French – We are protecting our right to choose.

 

Comr. Hemphill – With rescues you can have those animals also.

 

Rick French – We are not that far apart, rescue and retail. They adopt out for a fee. We sell them for a fee. It’s not that different except they are not paying the taxes, we are.

 

Comr. Hemphill – How should we deal with too many animals?

 

Rick French – Responsible pet owners take care of their animals. Numbers of abused/abandoned birds may not be as high as told. Rescues lead you to believe a lot more birds are thrown away then there really are.

 

Comr. Hemphill – What will stop breeders from continuing to turn out large numbers of birds?

 

Rick French – People think that bird breeding is like hamsters that breed like crazy. Bird breeders hope they will breed. A breeder is lucky if a pair has two offspring in one year.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Believes that one reason there are not so many birds at ACC is they are taken by rescue groups.

 

Rick French – Only one rescue group. Only 30 to 40 come in a year. The greater Bay Area has apx. 400,000 birds.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Do you remember when we didn’t have rescues?

 

Rick French – There were good Samaritans out there for anything.

 

Comr. Aldridge – You didn’t know that the ACWC existed until three weeks ago? I wonder why? You’ve had a pet store for 35 years?

 

Rick French – The store has been there for 35. I’ve had it for ten years.

 

Comr. Aldrdge – Would you say we have been working in obscurity here?

 

Rick French – Yes, as well as ACC. Banning the sale of these is any easy way out. Call us. A rescue has never come to our store. ACC only comes to have a bird wings or nails trimmed. There’s no communication. So I didn’t know you existed. Education and communication is the way to go.

 

Comr. Stephens – What do you think of a waiting period to prevent the impulse by? Or any other ideas short of a ban?

 

Rick French – Work with us. Have mobile adoptions. The SPCA will have adoption events down the street. Why not come up to my store? Welcomed Mickaboo to come but they turned us down 10 years ago. Flat. We will place rescue birds and help Mickaboo to relieve the pressure.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How would a ban affect your business?

 

Rick French – Don’t want to think about it. A pet store by definition sells pets. If we didn’t have birds would be selling bags of dog food at a 15% margin. I wouldn’t be there long.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How did you get into the business?

 

Rick French - Purchased the store 10 years ago. Have been in the business since 1969.

 

Comr. Gerrie – When I was working on the battery-cage issue, people would say they have a right to cheap eggs. They have a right to choose cheap eggs. I have a right to choose no matter what suffering the animal goes through and crossing over to birds and the right to abuse and mistreat animals as pets.

 

Rick French – There are people that will always abuse and mistreat animals. People will abuse children. We will not ban people from having children.

 

Comr. Gerrie – I had a hard time with your poster ‘protecting our precious animals’ and a person’s right to choose.

 

Rick French – Yes, a right to raise those animals, a right to breed those animals. A right to purchase those animals wherever one likes.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Mira showed a picture of animals in boxes, a parrot mill.

 

Rick French – That is a misnomer. She had a picture of some baby birds. I can show you pictures of orphanages in Russia or China. You can always show pictures of bad practices. That’s just sensationalism. It is rare.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How many birds do you sell a week or a month?

 

Rick French – It’s a range. We sell more finches than parrots. Perhaps 3 or 4 parrots a month. Parakeets are a good starter bird for kids. Any child that has not been brought up with a pet is deprived and grows up to not be a complete adult. The responsibility that goes along with taking care of a pet. The picking out of that pet in a pet store or a rescue.

They have that choice. A rescue or a pet store.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How do you know where the animals you sell will wind up in a year or two?

 

Rick French – Have had the store for ten years. Have been breeding birds for 30 years. Many customers return.

 

Comr. Gerrie – That is anecdotal. Only the happy customers return.

 

Rick French – Many that are not happy return and we try to resolve their problems.

 

Dana Strome – Founder Wing Foundation – A parrot rescue and rehabilitation center in SF. Started in 1989 with first parrot. Traveled to all the countries where parrots are from to see them in the wild. Sees the best and worst of people, rescuing them from horrible situations and finding them loving homes. Parrots are wild animals but domestically raised. Parrots are pets and here to stay. Questions if banning is the right way to go. When first started rescuing, approached Mickaboo for support. Never received a reply. Have volunteered to help at ACC but had been turned down repeatedly. Peninsula Human does partner. Doesn’t charge adoption fee. Observes potential adopters when they come to look at the adoptable birds. Shows them the destruction they can cause and what they sound like. Has arrangement with avian vet for anyone that adopts a bird from her, a special fee. Available 24 hours a day for people that adopt and has special fund to help adopters with vet bills. Can’t set the bar too high for potential adopters. Have heard from some adopters that Mickaboo’s standards are difficult to meet. Would prefer everyone work together for the welfare of parrots. Anyone that really wants a parrot will get one. People worried that the ban would mean they wouldn’t be able to own a parrot anymore. Have worked with the Animal Company. Believes education is the way to go. Doesn’t want to drive parrot owners underground.  Offers self as part of the solution

 

Comr. Brooks – How many birds do you take in in a year?

 

Dana Strome – 20 to 30. Never turns a bird away. Doesn’t see as many birds being given up as other rescues. Works with people to try and get them to keep their bird with behavioral issues. Has issue with charging a fee for readoption. Some relinquished birds do not make great pets and a rescue should be paying them to take the bird instead.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How many people work with you at the Wing Foundation?

 

Dana Strome – People work with me across the country. Works with many bird sanctuaries  as well as rescues.

 

Claudia Hunka – Owner, Your Basic Bird  in Berkeley– Opposed to ban. Supports small neighborhood pet stores. Local pet stores are part of the community. A place where children first learn respect for animals. Provides choices as to what type of animal is best suited to a family. Makes effort to make good matches. Refers calls about injured birds to wildlife centers and appropriate rescue groups. Educates new pet owners and continues to offer support care to long term customers. Many birds are placed and stay in loving homes  their entire life. Birds stay in homes over 20 years. Small animals 6 to 10 years. Placing a ban on bird sales in pet stores where many birds are rescued is detrimental. Our store rehomed, last year, over 30 birds. We rehome small animals as well, many had not originally come from our store. Cannot stop people wanting a companion animal in their life but that is exactly what the animal rights groups want. People will just go to other locations and receive less support than they would from their local pet store. Opposed to a ban. It is symbolic and will do nothing to solve the problem of animals needing to be rehomed. Has partnered with Hopalong Cat Rescue for over 15 years. Adopts out 100 cats a year. Why is the number of cats not decreasing? Cats are not sold in pet shops in SF nor Berkeley. Over population of dogs and cats will not decrease with a ban on their sale. Problem is a lack of no-cost spay/neutering. The SF SPCA brought lots of animals in from outside SF when there were SF animals to be dealt with. Perhaps a non-profit could obtain money for such a program. According to US Today, Puerto Rico alone has shipped over 14,000 strays in last seven years. Hope animal shelters are communicating with each other first to rescue US animals first. There is no evidence that animals winding up in a shelter first came from a pet store. Banning selling dogs would not increase rescue adoptions. Important to match up right animal with the right person. Want to work together to rescue as many animals as possible. Commenting  as a pet store owner for 29 years, important to teach birds to forage to avoid stress. Rescues have come to learn how to feed baby birds from Basic Bird pet shop. Parrots are flock animals but will accept humans and dogs and other animals as part of their flock. Believes a ban is not the best way. Does not see problems with most birds. Rescues only see the problems.

 

Comr. Stephens – Had formed coalition on program for low-cost spay/neuter in SF.

 

Claudia Hunka – Needs to be a zero cost.

 

Comr. Stephens – That would be ideal. Coalition is working on getting grants to develop programs in problem neighborhoods. The horror stories about pet stores  are associated more with the national chains than the independent stores. What do you think about a ban for the national stores versus the local ones?

 

Claudia Hunka – PIJAC has been working on legislation to address pet care in pet stores, including segregating animals by sex at stores. New laws would give ACC more ways of dealing with stores not in compliance. Small animals have been ruined by inbreeding.

 

Mary Ellen LePage – VP American Federation of Aviculture(AFA) – By Federal law indigenous birds are not allowed to be kept as pets.  An indigenous bird given to the SPCA for health reasons should not be a cause to stop pet ownership. By Federal law exotic birds, which are allowed to be pets, may not be imported. In 1992 the Wild Bird Conservation Act completely stopped bird importation. Healthy exotic birds should never be euthanized. All the exotic birds are endangered species to some extent. Birds are not easy to breed. Own 30 birds but had only 2 babies this year. Treats own birds very well. Most pet stores do a good job in caring for animals. If deficiencies occur the remedy is education or setting standards of care. Not banning.  Calling bird breeders parrot mills is not fair. They are breeding to perpetuate endangered species. Know many breeders and bird owners. One thing is common is a passion for the birds and to take best possible care of them. Many bird species are almost extinct in the wild but are raises successfully in the US. Perhaps to become the only source for their survival. A lot of presentations today had a lot of theories with no facts. Rescues see only the very worst of the bird trade. Believes this is very much of a minority however. A bigger picture is of all the people that love birds – are in happy homes – the joy that they bring. Biased opinions have been presented. Parrots are adaptable. We don’t know if they suffer in a cage. Don’t know what causes plucking. Cause is not known. Had a bird that was plucking. Took it to a vet. He gave it an antibiotic. It is now growing all of its feathers back. AFA believes there are no reliable statistics of the bird relinquishment problem. Banning will impact everyone for the sake of a small minority of birds. AFA opposes the ban in its entirety and especially the inclusion of birds.

 

Comr. Russo- Can you explain the difference between and exotic and indigenous bird as regards to pet ownership?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – Indigenous birds are the ones we see where we live. Exotics are from other countries that were imported before the law stopped importations.

 

Comr. Russo – Please explain why it is OK to have an exotic bird as a pet but not an indigenous bird.

 

Mary Ellen LePage –Probably Fish and Wildlife did not want us messing with our normal flora. USDA has been working on a lot of new regulations for aviculture that will be rolled out in September. Behoove you to not pass laws here until we see what the Feds are going to do.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Any idea what the Feds are up to?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – They’ve been working on it for a couple of years and are up to a whole lot.

 

Comr. Gerrie – What are they focusing on that is not OK now?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – They were sued my animal rights people to step up oversight of bird breeding and aviculture.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How does the AFA help the bird community?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – Primarily education. Educating people how to take care of birds.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How do you do that?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – With a periodical called the “Watchbird”, keep in regular contact with our members, give a convention once a year with excellent speakers, have an online course called “Fundamentals of aviculture”.

 

Comr. Gerrie – How do you interact with the rescues that do a lot of educating? Is it a parallel effort or different?

 

Mary Ellen LePage – Some rescues are AFA members. They have a lot of input. We have rescue speakers at the conventions. Suggest a pilot program to adopt birds from the SPCA. Not from rescue groups. Rescues make it too complicated. It would be nice if the SFSPCA worked directly with people wanting to adopt birds. Rehoming is very good thing. The Rescue make it sound terrible. Have helped to rehome many birds and the birds adapt real well.

 

Comr. Aldridge – Clarifies that the ACC takes birds. The SFSPCA doesn’t. The ASPCA is based in NY and is not connected to the local SPCA.

 

Steve Duncan – President Avicultural Society of America, ASA – Was founded in 1926. Goal is to educate about birds in captivity and promote bird welfare. Has personally bred birds for over 35 years. Has owned retail pet stores. Lectures around the country. Helped with PIJAC to pass AB1437 setting pet store standards. Has seen many changes over 35 years. Has always seen rehoming going on. Traditionally, breeders and pet stores have done this. Now rescues and sanctuaries do this. Birds adapt very well with being rehomed. Believes it is more traumatic on the bird owner than the bird itself. Not a problem. Contrary to other pets, birds that are 10 or 20 years old still have a market value because they are still desirable. There is not an over population problem. It is more a problem of rescue organization’s policies. Giving a bird, you can no longer keep, to a rescue, or a rescue sanctuary, sounds much more acceptable and noble than just selling one’s bird. Pet owners are looking for a place for their animals that is acceptable emotionally. A pet store is just as qualified to find new good homes. It is not a problem of over population. It is a combination that rescues are the preferred way to rehome one’s pet and their adoption policies that make it difficult for an animal to get out. If they don’t want to let them out easily, rescues will have a lot of birds. As a breeder, is often contacted by bird owners to rehome birds and sees what happens when they are placed in a new home or into own facility. They adapt very well. It is not a problem finding homes as long as you are not overly restrictive. It is important to not be too lax but it is not that difficult to do. As to Mira’s slide of the dark trailer and the boxes. There is a misunderstanding. The birds are not locked into those cages and forced to breed. In the wild parrots breed in hollows in trees. Their natural nesting cavities are very dark and secure. The wooden boxes are replicating natural conditions. They can enter into it through a hole that looks like a hole in a tree trunk. If we are lucky they will breed. It isn’t as easy as dogs and cats. A lot of misinformation is being spread by the other side. Citing a quote from Mira’s LA Times article that the flocks of feral pets flying around LA are a sign of people’s dissatisfaction with their pet birds. The wild flocks in LA have been around since the 50’s. A few escaped then and have bred in the wild. The wild parrots are up to 4,000 birds now. They have nothing to do with people’s dissatisfaction. If a pet bird is discarded out the window it will not survive. It doesn’t know how or will be eaten by predators. Hope that I have exposed some of the misinformation presented earlier. What was presented earlier is not at all factual. Such as the expanding numbers in captivity. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, APPMA, puts out a survey of pet birds every two years. They say that the pet bird population has been relatively stable for many years. The trend is not building up to a crisis. Another comment is that if we stop breeding now we will have pet birds for 20 to 30 years. The APPMA has determined that 80% of the pet birds are budgies, cockatiels, finches, doves, etc. They average living only 10 years. Only exceptional birds live an exceptionally long time. If we stop breeding today, birds will be very difficult to find within ten years. Or less. Want to recognize that pet stores and bird breeders concerns are not much different than the rescue community. We want to work together to find new homes for their animals. We are not polarizing the issue. We are not proposing bans. We are not proposing that rescues follow the same restrictions that breeders do. The restrictive language and hyperbole is coming from those that want a ban. What purpose are we solving by pushing this proposal forward? Flew up from LA for this meeting. SF wants to be progressive and hopes this ban will spread across the country. Don’t want it to spread because it is wrong. It is not solving a problem. It is creating a problem.  It is establishing a trend of preventing people from pet bird ownership. That is a bad thing.  Having a relationship with an exotic bird, as a pet, helps people to care what is happening to those birds in the wild. The domestic supply of parrots in the US prevents birds being smuggled in. The market for smuggled birds is destroyed with healthier domestically raised birds.

 

Comr. Gerrie – This format is challenging because it is not a back and forth but one side presents while the other side has to sit on their hands. You mentioned that before rescues breeders and pet stores helped to rehome birds. Sounds like a basis for a partnership. Why are rescues here today if breeders and pet stores were doing the work?

 

Steve Duncan – Sign of the times. Rhetoric is ‘adopt don’t buy’. Rescues will not work with anyone that sells or breeds animals. The number of birds available at rescues would be snapped up by pet stores if they would cooperate. By they won’t because of their anti-breeding philosophy. The mentality now is that breeding an  animal and selling an animal is wrong. Doesn’t see how rescue charging an adoption fee is any different than anyone selling an animal. The adoption fee is comparable to what a retailer sell the animal for.  Plus the adopter has to fulfill volunteer hours. Only two explanations for the rescues behavior. 1. Doesn’t believe people should own birds. 2. Or they don’t want the competition from pet stores.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Would like to understand how one knows when a bird is “adapting quite well” How do you measure or benchmark that?

 

Steve Duncan – Primarily behaviorally. Does it appear well adjusted? Showing normal natural behavior. Some birds like human company. Some birds like to be left alone. They don’t want to be taken out of the cage. But rescues will try to force human interactions on the birds. Would like if people would drop the anti-breeding, anti-selling rhetoric and just work with us. Personally raises birds to be sold at pet stores, not to the general public. Bird pet stores are better at dealing with the public who specialize in that. Have too many birds to take care of. Public should get their supplies from pet stores.

 

Comr. Hemphill – How many birds do you sell annually?

 

Steve Duncan – This issue is not about how many birds I sell.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Hundreds? Thousands?

 

Steve Duncan – I sell hundreds.

 

Comr. Hemphill – 900? 800?

 

Steve Duncan – How many birds I sell is immaterial to the issue before this Commission. I don’t see the reason for it.

 

Comr. Hemphill – You said the USDA is going to be making some laws. What restrictions do you think is reasonable to place on breeders?

 

Steve Duncan – This was from a lawsuit brought by the Doris Day Animal League. The suit was over the USDA not regulating rats, mice and birds used in research. The lawsuit thought it was wrong for those animals not to be regulated. The lawsuit was settled with the USDA who will now begin to regulate them.  The USDA is developing those regulations now. Right now birds, rats, and mice, used only for research, are exempted by an act of Congress. Birds, rats, and mice raised for the pet industry will soon be covered as are other animals from the pet industry.  Those animals will now be covered. There will be cage-size standards, transport standards, exhibition standards. Even zoos have to be licensed under USDA Animal Welfare Act regulations because they are exhibiting mammals. They currently wouldn’t need to be licensed by USDA if they only exhibiting birds. Breeders would also fall under new regulations that currently only oversee dogs and cats.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Would you describe the ASA as a trade organization?

 

Steve Duncan – No. We’re a 501 (c)(3)  educational foundation. We have a facebook page to answer questions from anyone. We have an e-mail list and answer questions that way. We have hundreds of breeders, pet owners, and behaviorists. We have many outlets to get educational material out. We have a magazine. We are developing a care sheet specific to each species.

 

Comr. Hemphill – You work for them full time?

 

Steve Duncan – I am volunteer and the president.

 

William Miller – SF physician – Everyone here is concerned about how society deal with unwanted animals. Impressed by the bird rescue people. Has owned four birds. Currently has two African Gray parrots. Considers them as children and part of the household. Shocked by statements made by first two rescue speakers. They painted a very negative picture. One picture of birds in small cages could be misleading because sometimes birds are put in small cages to transport them, not for them to live in. Has known many bird owners and found them to be loving and caring. They are extremely interested in learning how to make their birds feel most at home. There is tons of stuff on the internet providing information of bird care. Compares view of rescues to view having been a physician in an inner-city hospital. If only looked at who came in for treatment would conclude that all humans are homeless drug addicts. Had to remember that not everyone had a health issue or could be a patient. Unfair to group all bird owners as inept bumblers. Counters comment about how rare and expensive avian vets are. There are a lot of avian vets in the Bay Area. Three are in the West Portal neighborhood. Recommends Brian Speer as an expert in bird care and author of many books on birds. There are many reasons birds pluck their feathers. Not just stress. Own bird started plucking his feathers one day. Quickly concluded that plucking could only mean the bird was abused. Took the bird to Dr Speer, Couldn’t find a reason. Didn’t seem to hurt when plucking. Decided to treat is like an adolescent who wants a Mohawk. Just let the bird do what it wants. Opposed to forcing people to go to rescue places if they want a companion pet because those birds can have real issues. Had a rescue cockatoo once. Since passed. Was a handful, screamed, chewed on everything. Very destructive. Would be horrible for a first time bird owner be forced to go to a rescue and have that type of bird be their first bird experience. A bird that has developed destructive or disruptive behavior is a huge handful.  Ban is well meaning but poorly conceived. Suggest other solutions. Mandate giving literature for bird care when a bird is sold. Another mandate could be a sign of things one needs to know before buying a particular bird. Perhaps a waiting period of even an hour would force people to rethink their impulse buy. SF is known for being liberal and forward thinking but this is very conservative. People should have the right to go to a pet store and buy a bird.

 

Comr. Hemphill – If the ban did  not include birds would you support it?

 

William Miller – No. Philosophically passing laws to make people behave correctly is not the way to go. A ban is an extreme approach. Believes a ban against sales is a veneer for a ban against ownership. Having an animal is to have a connection with a bit of nature.

 

Comr. Hemphill – ACC and the rescues don’t have money for literature. Would the pet stores and breeders supply the materials?

 

William Miller – If the City feels this is an important issue, the City could provide grant money to rescues to do that. If we thought this was important enough we could provide agreed-upon literature, put together by both sides, that would be handed out upon the sale of an animal. The literature could include helpful phone numbers in case of problems. Can’t believe people don’t care about their pets. They may abuse their pets the way they may abuse their children but the solution is not to take their kid away but to provide better parenting skills. Provide a phone number for when there are issues or problems with the bird’s behavior.

 

Comr. Gerrie – I believe the Pet Store Animal Care Act of 2009 already requires pet stores to provide such information.

 

Dian Amble – SF Director Animal Voter’s Alliance – Has been rescuing wild or hurt animals since age 12. Used to rescue hurt raccoons who were nesting underneath a house but now homeowners are told by ACC to wait until babies grow and leave and then seal the opening. A case of education preventing harm. Believes in obeying the law. A proposed ban is a violation of federal law. The 10th amendment has a commerce clause. One cannot interfere with commerce, ie. the sale of animals which are goods. The ban would also put people out of work that supply pets with food. A ban interferes with free enterprise. Working together with pet store owners and breeders, a solution can be found. Is also president of SPCA in  San Joaquin. Offers a 800 # for behavior problems. Collaboration is the way to go not a punitive law.

 

Roland Cristo – Has been raising birds for 50 years. Co-founder of Africans for Bird Conservation, Corrects earlier statement that parrots were not common until after WW 2. Not true. Robinson’s pet shop in SF carried all kinds of birds before WW 2. Corrects statement of 1992 Wild Bird Conservation Act. It only prohibits importation of birds on the CITES list. Rescues can be extreme. A rescue in Colorado had two black parrots, very rare. They refused to allow them to be bred even to preserve their rare species. They wanted them turned into pets.  Unlisted species of parrots are still coming in. Breeds all sorts of birds including shamas. Go to shama.com to hear its song. It is not right to ban the sale of birds. Shouldn’t ban anything. There is no parrot problem in SF because they are not being euthanized. Corrects statement that avocados are poisonous. Not true. San Diego Zoo feeds them by the boxes to their birds. Worked in pet shops in the Bay Area from age 12 to 22. Pet shops are needed because they work with people to give the help and knowledge they need. Private bird breeders don’t have the time for that. Has and breeds birds from every continent except Antarctica. Birds are not easy to breed. Third thing birds most want to do besides survive and eat is breed. Parrots are fairly intelligent but not as intelligent as the corvus.

 

Susan Tucker – Petco’s Service Manager in SF area – Joined by Emmanuel Lara, General Services Manger at 16th and Bryant. Banning the sale of pets in SF will not address the stated purpose of the ordinance which is for small animals surrendered to ACC find homes rather than be euthanized. Understands that ordinance is wanted to make a statement. Believes working together is a better way to go. Petco has a solution proposed last month rather than a ban which is to provide designated habitat and floor space for ACC’s animals. Using number of animals surrendered to ACC of about 900 in a year, believes Petco can place most if not all. Unfortunately heard that ACC is not interested in Petco’s offer. Many more animals will be euthanized as a result. Petco has never sold dogs or cats. Petco works in collaboration with the non-profit Petco foundation and 6500 animal rescue groups to offer animal adoption in our stores in the US. Through these efforts finds new homes for over 200,000 animals a year. The Petco foundation provides $10 million a year to animal welfare partners. In California works with over 1000 rescue groups including dozens focused on small animal adoptions. Petco encourages customers to “think adoption first”. This ordinance will not solve the problem. The solution is to use one of our SF stores to relinquish small animals. Petco’s view is it is better to partner with Petco, to reduce the euthanasia rate, rather than make a symbolic ordinance that will do nothing to change animals being killed.

 

Comr. Hemphill – If you did have ACC’s animals in your store, would that cut down the number of animals you are selling?

 

Susan Tucker – That would certainly allow for that.

 

Comr. Stephens – Would the Commissioners like to make comments on what has been discussed tonight?

 

Comr. Gerrie – Would like to consider the information presented tonight, let it season for a month, then come back next month for a possible recommendation.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Would also like to let is season.

 

Comr. Aldridge – Worried about legislation that would bump into practicalities as regards to legality. Is not our job to consider the legalities but would hope that a recommendation would have a chance with the Supervisors.

 

Comr. Page – There are precedents that bans have been upheld. Can give details as to the individual cases.

 

Comr. Stephens – Heard interest of groups working together. Would like to take those groups up on that and have a meeting with pet store owners and rescue groups. If that then doesn’t work then we can come back and revisit the issue.

 

Comr. Gerrie – That has been my preference as well. I have favored dialogue over legislation. The view points are very different. Have appreciated hearing the two sides here tonight talking in this public forum.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Put off by the criticism of the rescue groups. If the intention is to work together criticizing is not helpful.

 

Comr. Stephens – Open dialogue is crucial and listening with open ears. Went to a recent meeting of the coalition for the homeless animals. Was impressed that people were actually listening. There were ground rules about not talking over one another and no personal attacks. Don’t know if that would work with this group. A non-profit had stepped up to head the coalition. Don’t know what group might be willing to organize or maybe just do it informally.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Had hoped for more dialogue. Wanted to hear alternatives to legislation that would be workable. Haven’t heard much yet. Would like more input to craft something.

 

Kat Brown – ACC has been seeing about 4000 animals per year, not including dogs and cats, for the last few years. Half are ‘other’ animals which could include wildlife. Number of domestic birds seen in the two years, 2008/ 2009, are 287. That’s budgies, canaries, cockatoos, cockatiels, conures, finch, king pigeons, love birds, macaws, parakeets, and parrots. So far for 2009/ 2010, 180.

 

5 A) Public comment

 

Bonnie Tomek – Has always had pets. Appreciates what Commission is doing. What about considering the sale of iguanas snakes and reptiles? And what would happen to dog breeders in SF? Would a ban affect them? Would the only animals left to buy at a pet store be reptiles and fish?

 

Lisa Dominguez – Hope Commission will pass a ban. Six years ago bought a pet from Serramonte Pet Store. First time buying a pet from a pet store versus a shelter. Fell in love with a little dog there. Inner voice said not to but from a pet store however. But fell in love and returned the next day to buy the Pomeranian. Was reassured by the pet store that he came from a good breeder and was healthy. Soon became sick with condition that causes vomiting. Has spent  $30,000 in last six years on his medical care. Also had degenerative disc disease. Ban will stop production and trafficking of similar unhealthy animals.

 

Kelly Operman – Went to pet shops as a girl. Parents made her research what animals would make good pets. Bought loving animal at Animal Connection. Has had it for 12 years now. Doesn’t support ban. Instead should regulate pet stores. Make sure pet stores sell pets responsibly, not a ban. Serramonte Pet Store is notorious . not all pet stores are bad. Regulate and investigate bad pet stores, not ban sales.

 

Donna Stravinsky – Lovebird owner. Heard solutions tonight. Animal Connection told her what to expect, hooked her up with a bird group and a bird vet. Was educated by them. Responsible pet stores are a resource.  Just because a store sells birds doesn’t mean the bird is a “product” to them.

 

Kim Flaherty – Vet technician – Has seen neglect and disposal of animals by those who had no idea what to expect. Has seen huge vet bills for people who did not know a pet could be so expensive. Birds should fly free.

 

Ann O’Brien – Animal Connection – Animals should not be an impulse buy. Store should tell customers to call back and get a card of information. Then provide support after purchase. Animal Connection is not out for money but loving homes for animals.

 

Emmanuel Lara – General Manager Petco – Has been a learning experience. Applauds both sides of the debate. Time to come up with solutions to fix problems. Offers store as a place to meet and discuss issues.

 

Donald Berrie – When a ban is put on human behavior, it doesn’t work, e.g., prohibition, drugs. Ban of sale of pets won’t work. City will get a lawsuit to overturn any ban. Instead of ban on sales, legislate regulations on puppy mills. Require pet stores to ask potential customers about living condition needs of animal. About its life span. Regulate pet stores so they tell people what they’re getting into with birds.

 

Kelly McDougal – Reptile Coordinator Animal Connection – Not just a job but what has chosen to do. May not sell one animal all day but will spend whole day talking to people about animals, moving heat lamps, etc. Instills that animals deserve courtesy. Refuses sales. Not everyone should have an animal. No one at store sees animals as products. Only reason to own a pet store is for a love of the animals and to connect them with people.

 

Cory Evans  - Attorney Animal Law – Very familiar with Constitution and the Commerce Clause. It says the federal government can enact regulations on matters that affect states. Dormant Clause says that no state can enact legislation that discriminates against out-of-state people. Cites an AKC case during which the court shot down Commerce Clause argument against regulation.

 

Nadine May – Can’t sell firecrackers. There’s a reason for that. Restrictions are done all the time. Most people with animals try to do the best they can. Focus has been taken off of animals and on commerce and money. Rescues don’t breed. They take animals because there are no alternatives. They spend money on vet bills and spay/neuter. Pet stores don’t spay/neuter. Rescues take any animals. They are under funded and understaffed. They do it for the animals.

 

Brigitte Cowell – cat breeder and rescue – Encourages everyone to work together. Prefers education to bans.

 

Mark Ennis – Welcomes new Commissioners. Is sad to see all animals in cages. Animal’s lives are miserable. In SF, animal welfare may be OK , other areas are not good. Says a lot that a bird breeder from LA came here to oppose a ban. Commission has enough information to make a decision tonight. Let the Board decide and hear more people. We used to sell people but now we don’t. Take step to stop sale of animals.

 

Public comment closed

 

Comr. Gerrie – Need time to think about all this information.

 

Comr. Hemphill – Agrees. Need more time.

 

Comr. Gerrie – Will pursue offers to work together. Table the motion until next month.

 

6) General Public Comment

 

Mark Ennis – Apologize for missing Bob Jenkins presentation on the zoo last month. Hope he hasn’t swayed the Commission to think there are no problems at the zoo. They continue to bring in new animals and don’t take care of the ones they have. Hopes Commission will create subcommittee to deal with zoo issues. Jenkin’s solutions are not solutions. Offer to take Commissioners on a tour of zoo, himself, to show the problems. $50 million in bond money spent inappropriately. Money did not do anything to better lives of zoo animals. Zoo is all about visitors, not animals.

 

7& 8 Calendar items and task allotments

 

Comr. Stephens – Will continue discussion on the sale of animals at pet stores at the next meeting.

 

No public comment

 

9) Adjournment  9:50 PM

 

 

Respectfully submitted by

Philip Gerrie

Commission Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 2/3/2014 11:02:42 AM