Metro

Boston bans commercially bred animals in pet stores

The Boston City Council unanimously approved a ban Wednesday on pet stores selling dogs, cats, or rabbits from commercial breeders in an attempt to prevent the sale of animals bred in unsafe conditions.

The ordinance, dubbed the “puppy mill bill,” was signed into law by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and will apply to stores in Boston, according to an administration spokeswoman, Bonnie McGilpin.

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There are no pet stores in the city that sell puppies or kittens from commercial breeders, according to Councilor Matt O’Malley of Jamaica Plain, who proposed the initiative. But at least one chain of pet stores that sells commercially bred animals wanted to expand in the city, O’Malley said.

“This is a very important piece of legislation that goes after the inhumane factories known as puppy mills,” O’Malley said. “It will also prohibit the sale of dogs on the street corner or in parking lots.”

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A similar ban has been enacted in more than 120 other cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles, O’Malley said.

In Boston, pet shops can still work with animal shelters or rescue agencies to help customers adopt pets. People can also purchase animals directly from breeders.

The ordinance will make one exception, for Jim Gentile, owner of the Pet Shop in Allston. Gentile will be allowed to continue breeding rabbits until 2017. He did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment.

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Last month, Gentile told the Globe the ban would “drive a business out of the city of Boston.”

“The reason I’ve been around [so long] is that I sell animals, and I’m good at it,” said Gentile, who has owned the shop 41 years.

Animal rights activists hailed the vote as a victory.

“We’re really excited that Boston continues to be a leader in animal protection,” said Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com.
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