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City of Albuquerque recognized for anti puppy mill ordinance

The City of Albuquerque is getting national recognition for an ordinance aimed at eliminating puppy mills.

By Gabrielle Burkhart

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is getting national recognition for an ordinance aimed at eliminating puppy mills. Now years later, lots of other cities are following suit, so is it working in Albuquerque?

Animal shelters across the country have embraced the term “Adopt, don’t shop,” drawing an awareness to the homeless pet population.

“You have all these animals and half the time they don’t get the love and attention,” said Cassie Walter, as she visited the city’s Lucky Paws location inside the Coronado Center.

But as far as tackling the issue legally, the City of Albuquerque was ahead of the curve.

“It’s just very well designed to take care of the animals because they can’t really speak for themselves,” explained Animal Welfare Director Paul Caster.

Caster is referring to a city ordinance put in place ten years ago. It requires pets be spayed and neutered, up to date on rabies shots, licensed, micro-chipped, and it states all dogs and cats sold in retail establishments must be rescues.

“I think it’s probably eliminated most of the puppy mills,” said Caster. Before the ordinance, he said puppy mills were basically supplying pet stores.

“We actually had a guy in the East Mountains who was doing this with Labrador retrievers, and every so often he would just bring his excess stock in and drop it in the shelter.”

As a result of excess breeding, city officials said more animals were unhealthy.

“What you end up doing is you get some very sick, very weak animals, a lot of deformity because there’s so much in-breeding,” Caster explained.

Albuquerque’s ordinance was featured in this month’s Best Friends Magazine. The article states at least 20 other cities passed similar anti-puppy-mill ordinances just this year to discourage backyard breeding.

With a decline of puppy mills over the years, city officials said they can better focus attention on finding forever homes for the current homeless pet population in Albuquerque.

In 2006, the City of Albuquerque’s shelter intake was roughly 27,000 animals. Last year it dropped to just over 18,000.

Caster said the backyard breeding problem hasn’t disappeared, but the city has made progress.

“Our officers are always looking out for things of that nature and sometimes those things can just be uncovered on a routine call,” said Animal Welfare Captain Christopher Romero.

Albuquerque also requires pet owners to obtain a $150 litter license before breeding their dog or cat.