How Las Vegas’ Pet Sale Ban Was Reversed
On Nov. 15, the Las Vegas City Council repealed a ban on the pet store sales of potbellied pigs, cats and dogs. This is the largest of the cities that have eliminated these misguided measures.
The importance of this repeal should be neither understated nor overstated. No victory is permanent, as evidenced by the fact that the Las Vegas ordinance became law less than two years ago. But on the heels of California’s passage of the nation’s first statewide sales ban and the re-adoption of a sales ban in Rio Rancho, N.M., this is a reminder that defeat is not inevitable.
In fact, when reasonable people and responsible businesses stand up for themselves, meet with their elected officials before and during the legislative process, and share the facts on an issue in an honest and open dialogue to support or oppose legislative proposals or regulations, positive things can happen.
This was an industry-wide effort with many stakeholders expressing significant concerns. It wasn’t just businesses; many local animal welfare advocates expressing their concerns over losing pet choice, closing local businesses and that the original pet sale ban wouldn’t address the problem of substandard, unlicensed breeders. Many groups were a part of the effort and responsible for the repeal.
A portion of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) efforts on the ground included working with local advocates and the good people of Puppy Boutique to meet and discuss the ban with Las Vegas’ mayor and council members. We were able to highlight the clean bills of health they have received from Animal Control for years. They invited council members to tour the store. Company policies include, but are not limited to, taking pets to vets more than is required by law and microchipping each pet that comes through the store.
The fact is that officials very well could have met solely with me as a representative of PIJAC. But being able to guide local advocates with setting up these meetings meant the mayor and other lawmakers were more likely to a) agree to a meeting, b) listen carefully to the genuine concerns of their constituents and c) be open-minded to being presented with facts about the pet sale ban and why it was important to repeal the original ordinance.
The same holds true for Petland’s Las Vegas store’s advocacy efforts. Through its local advocate, the company held critical meetings, negotiated effectively with opponents and undecided advocates and lawmakers, and were excellent representatives of our industry’s care for pets and pet lovers.
These efforts were complemented by the World Pet Association’s (WPA) long-term involvement to develop relationships and understanding with officials about the responsible pet industry. Each year at SuperZoo, WPA’s organizers invite council members to tour the event. Council members are invited to meet business owners and see firsthand how our pet professionals care for animals.
These are just some of the important people and groups without which Las Vegas’ pet lovers would have been left high and dry.
Regretfully, none of us can rest on our laurels after Wednesday’s success. Activists across the nation are already promising to push for re-enactment of the ban (warning: graphic language). We must continue to make our case to the ultimate audience—the pet loving public.
It is on this front that PIJAC is grateful for the assistance of Trosper Communications, a Nevada firm with deep roots in Las Vegas. Trosper’s staff got our perspectives in multiple local papers leading up to Wednesday’s vote, including an excellent profile of Puppy Boutique that put a positive, local face on the issue. They also secured an op-ed in one of the major city newspapers for this coming Sunday’s edition, and otherwise used their connections with lawmakers, activists and others to great benefit. We are grateful for their assistance.
Josh Jones is director of legislative and regulatory engagement for PIJAC.