OCEANSIDE — City Council candidate Dana Corso recently joined protesters on Oceanside Boulevard to oppose puppy mill practices and pet stores that buy from breeders who have USDA infractions on record.
Animal rights supporters have held weekly protests outside the Oceanside Puppy pet store since the shop, which buys purebred dogs from a wholesale supplier, opened more than a year ago.
Corso said she stood with the animal rights protesters on Aug. 31 to object to puppy mill practices and to support protesters’ voices as citizens.
Oceanside City Council considered adding regulations to curtail pet shops from buying dogs from wholesalers in September 2013, after San Diego passed a similar law.
Councilmen and fellow City Council candidates Jerry Kern and Gary Felien shot down the amendment being drafted, saying they did not have enough information to make a decision.
Felien proposed that interested parties get together with the city manager and define “puppy mill” and “reputable breeder” before drafting a ban, to ensure the same standards are set for pet stores and animal rescue groups.
Kern and Felien recently said they still stand against putting additional regulations in place.
The ordinance amendment proposed last September by Councilwoman Esther Sanchez asked that city dog sales be limited to canines obtained through the humane society, a nonprofit animal rescue organization or an Oceanside breeder.
Corso said an amendment to safeguard animals should be looked into further. She added the only way to go forward with the discussion is to elect new council members.
“I’m in favor of helping them (the animal rights protesters) as much as I can,” Corso said.
“Mr. Salina (Oceanside Puppy owner) gets most of his puppies from the Hunte Corporation (a dog wholesale distributor).
“The conditions (some breeders for Hunte keep dogs in) are horrific, and totally unacceptable.”
The issue of puppy mills underlines fundamental differences in the candidates’ points of view.
Kern said puppy mills are a non-issue, and called protesters “animal rights extremists,” and their concerns “wild accusations.”
“We’re trying to dictate how people are trying to buy animals,” Kern said. “We’re picking winners and losers in this industry. If we don’t like you, you don’t get to do business.”
He added the dog breeding industry is well-regulated.
“If they don’t like a company in Missouri (actual complaints were about a breeder in Montana) that raises dogs for profit, why aren’t they in Missouri protesting,?” Kern asked.
Felien said that the city should not be favoring animal nonprofit groups over for-profit pet retailers.
He said the proposed wording of the ordinance amendment was emotional and not enforceable.
He added animal rescue groups also sell dogs brought in from outside the city.
“It didn’t seem to be an area in need of more regulations,” Felien said.
“We shouldn’t be telling people where to buy a dog.”
Felien said local protesters should direct their efforts towards improving USDA regulations.
“It’s a positive purpose, but they don’t need to close stores,” Felien said.
Corso, who is president of Alliance of Citizens To Improve Oceanside Neighborhoods and helped successfully defeat mobile home park rent decontrol touted by Kern and Felien in 2012, said an impact could be made at a city level.
“To allow animals to be treated this, we’re promoting this,” Corso said. “There are bans in other cities for the very same reason.”
She added that she does not want to put Salinas out of business, but wants to ensure he is selling healthy pets from humane breeders to Oceanside families.