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San Fran Pet Ban?

Apparently not content with banishing sugary drinks from city buildings, San Francisco is considering banning the sale of pets in the city limits.

Sell a guinea pig, go to jail.

That’s the law under consideration by San Francisco’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare. If the commission approves the ordinance at its meeting tonight, San Francisco could soon have what is believed to be the country’s first ban on the sale of all pets except fish.

That includes dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, lizards and nearly every other critter, or, as the commission calls them, companion animals.

“People buy small animals all the time as an impulse buy, don’t know what they’re getting into, and the animals end up at the shelter and often are euthanized,” said commission Chairwoman Sally Stephens. “That’s what we’d like to stop.”

San Francisco residents who want a pet would have to go to another city, adopt one from a shelter or rescue group, or find one through the classifieds.

Granted, this is inspired by a reasonable concern and driving to another town isn’t exactly an arduous burden for most people.   Still, this seems rather silly.

Why not, instead, have some sort of cooling off period?   Say, you have to leave a deposit and then come back three days later if you really want that puppy?   Surely, that would be both less an infringement on liberty and more effective than making people go to Oakland for their hamsters?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    Wouldn’t it at least make more sense to ban the breeding of pets? I mean just because the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm can’t sell a dog within the city, doesn’t mean the dog doesn’t exist, more likely to be euthanized by lack of market access.

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  2. Dave says:

    We adopted our cat from a local shelter and had a somewhat lengthy (though not obnoxiously so) application process, including calls to three references. Overall it took about a week before we could bring the cat home. Not sure if this was city-mandated, but it struck me at the time as a relatively unobtrusive, smart way of handling pet adoption.

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  3. JKB says:

    “People buy small animals all the time as an impulse buy, don’t know what they’re getting into, and the animals end up at the shelter and often are euthanized,” said commission Chairwoman Sally Stephens. “That’s what we’d like to stop.”

    Wait, so this is all because San Franciscans are immature, impulse-oriented, and unable to comprehend consequences of their actions? Okay, I buy that for San Franciscans. Actions have consequences. How about a hefty tax on pets that is then returned by amortization over several years via the resident’s city taxes?

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  4. James Joyner says:

    it struck me at the time as a relatively unobtrusive, smart way of handling pet adoption.

    That’s pretty much how it is in the DC area, too, although we’ve taken it a bit overboard. In most of the South, by contrast, you pay a nominal fee and get the animal pretty much no questions asked since they were going to kill it soon anyway.

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  5. James H says:

    If puppies are oulawed, only outlaws will have puppies.

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  6. [...] Gillespie | July 8, 2010 Via Outside the Beltway comes news of the latest bizarrity coming out of San [...]

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  7. Steve Plunk says:

    There are more important things for the city to be doing. There are things they should be doing that don’t limit individual liberty. There are unintended consequences likely to occur from such a law.

    This is a fine example of why government should be small, have limited power, and have a clearly defined role.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    Two quick things: Reputable shelters have background checks because they feel it is better to painlessly euthanize an animal than have it be used as a lab animal.

    And, there’s an important fact missing here. Is the board seriously considering this or is it some eccentric commissioner or even private citizen’s hobbyhorse?

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  9. floyd says:

    This will just lead to every illegal emmigrant bringing in a pet to sell, if they sell it, they’ve got a couple of extra meals before getting on welfare, if they don’t, well… same thing! [lol]

    Once Adopted, the authorities wouldn’t dare ask about their status, either way problem solved.

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  10. Brian Knapp says:

    I would have gone way more ridiculous…like “Underhanded San Fran-Land Man Plans Pet Ban”…but I guess short is sweet.

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  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Government at any and all levels is the enemy of freedom. Now they are telling residents they cannot buy a pet? Just who do they think they are. If they were realy into what they say they are, they would be at the shore on the gulf screaming at the government for allowing oil to come ashore.

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  12. [...] But I’m also anti-Nazi San Francisco Legislation. [...]

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  13. matt says:

    Ridiculous.. It appears there are quite a few gov’t employees that have too much time on their hand. The background check methods mentioned earlier by commenters would be sooo much more effective..

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  14. tom p says:

    @JJ***Why not, instead, have some sort of cooling off period? Say, you have to leave a deposit and then come back three days later if you really want that puppy? ***

    and

    @matt***The background check methods mentioned earlier by commenters would be sooo much more effective..***

    Soooooooo… you guys are OK with these limitations on the sale of guns?

    I wonder how the NRA would feel about it…

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  15. James Joyner says:

    Soooooooo… you guys are OK with these limitations on the sale of guns?

    There isn’t a Constitutional right to own gerbils, so the cases are different. But, no, in principle, I’ve got no objection to short waiting periods and instantish background checks. Not sure that they — the former, especially — would do much good.

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  16. Franklin says:

    Chairwoman Sally Stephens gives reasonable liberals a bad name. Sorry, but this is just a ridiculous way to solve a problem that barely exists.

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  17. [...] James Joyner: Granted, this is inspired by a reasonable concern and driving to another town isn’t exactly an arduous burden for most people.   Still, this seems rather silly. [...]

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