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The AKC Government Relations team has just become aware that the San Marcos City Council will consider a proposed ordinance which will define hobby breeders, limiting them to only three “breeding dogs, cats and/or rabbits.” It is unclear how a breeding dog, cat or rabbit would be identified and what would happen to resident breeders over that limit.

The measure also attempts to restrict the sales of pets from legal, licensed and regulated pet sellers. All breeders and pet owners should be concerned about government attempts to limit individuals’ choice of pets and attempts to limit the sale of purpose-bred puppies.   

The AKC urges responsible dog owners and breeders to attend the meeting and oppose this burdensome and ineffective ordinance.

San Marcos City Council Meeting

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Location: Council Chambers, 1 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069

Hobby Breeder Definition is Vague and Problematic

The current draft defines a hobby breeder as “any small-scale breeder who owns three (3) or fewer breeding dogs, cats or rabbits, and who sells, provides or supplies the offspring for retail or wholesale.” This definition is unclear and serves to create problems for San Marcos residnets who own and breed dogs. The draft ordinance restricts residents to three “breeding dogs, cats or rabbits.” This term is unclear. Does this mean dams that have whelped a litter? Males that have sired a litter? Does this mean any intact dogs?  How are dogs too old or too young to be used for breeding counted? Ideal breeding ages can vary by breed. What happens if a person who breeds only rarely exceeds three breeding dogs? City code permits the issuance of kennel license for up to seven (7) dogs, so how are those individuals impacted?

Section 6.32.060 (a) exempts dogs, cats and/or rabbits sold directly from the premises upon which they are born and reared. While most small breeder’s animals are born and reared on their own premises, there are exceptions. Breeders occasionally receive a puppy in lieu of a stud fee or in the case of an emergency cesarean section, offspring might not be born on the owner’s property.

This ordinance was originally proposed to restrict sales of pets at retail pet shops. The measure restricts the actions of those who meet the criteria of a “retail pet store” which requires a business to conduct retail sales and be open to the public. Hobby breeders would not meet this criterion and further, breeders who sell at wholesale to a retail pet store are already regulated by federal law. This renders the hobby breeder definition and the exemption in Section 6.32.060 (a) superfluous and problematic.

As is acknowledged in the findings of this ordinance, federal law regulates those who sell at wholesale and even those who ship animals to new pet owners who have not seen the animals in person. California state law further regulates those who qualify as breeders under the Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act. California, under the Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act, has one of the strongest pet consumer protection laws in the country. This level of additional regulation at the local level is unnecessary.

In our view, compliance with existing nuisance, sanitation, zoning and animal control and welfare laws is sufficient for small breeders. If they are not creating a nuisance for their neighbors and are obeying the law, there is no need for narrow definitions and government involvement.

Local responsible breeders are assets to their communities. These breeders make serious commitments to their animals by raising healthy, well cared-for dogs and by working to ensure that puppies are placed with responsible owners. They are in a unique position to support new pet owners and exemplify responsible animal ownership. Responsible dog breeders and owners are models for their communities and should not be penalized by being forced to comply with burdensome regulations.

Arbitrary Restrictions on Pet Sales Harm Pet Owners and the Community

The American Kennel Club believes that an important part of ensuring the success of a pet with a new owner is to ensure that it is an appropriate fit with the owner’s lifestyle. Treasured pets may be obtained from a variety of sources, including breeders, pet stores, rescues, and local shelters.

If the proposed ordinance restricting pet sales is adopted, families in San Marcos will lose an important source for choosing a pet that is the best fit for their lifestyle and circumstances. 

Unfortunately, many communities lack sufficient local breeders to meet the demand for the specific pets desired by local residents. Those seeking a puppy that is a specific breed from a professional breeder subject to USDA or state animal welfare standards, or one that is covered by California consumer protection laws, will likely be forced to purchase a puppy elsewhere, or to obtain a pet of unknown origin and health history or status.

When consumers cannot acquire a pet that is an appropriate fit for their lifestyle, that animal is more likely to end up in the shelter system. A better solution is to ensure that consumers are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a variety of pets so that they can make educated choices.

The proposal to ban the sale of pets from known, regulated and inspected sources, and to allow only the sale/adoption of pets from unknown, unregulated and uninspected sources, does the exact opposite of its purported intent: It removes available consumer protections for new pet owners and potentially increases public health risks for the entire community. 

What You Can Do

  • Attend the San Marcos City Council meeting on January 26, 2016 and ask the mayor and city council members to oppose this ordinance.
  • Contact the members of the San Marcos City Council by email or phone prior to the meeting and ask them to oppose this ordinance.

AKC Resources:
AKC Position Statement: Canine Population Issues
Issue Analysis: The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders
AKC Position Statement: Breeding Restrictions
AKC Position Statement: Responsible Breeding Practices 
Responsible Breeding Practices Issue Brief

San Marcos City Council  

Mayor Jim Desmond

(760) 402-0448 Phone

(760) 744-9058 Fax

Vice-Mayor Rebecca Jones

(760) 744-1050 Phone

(760) 744-9058 Fax

Councilman Chris Orlando

(760) 744-1050 Ext. 3154

(760) 744-9058 Fax

Councilwoman Kristal Jabara

(760) 744-1050 Phone

(760) 744-9058 Fax

Councilwoman Sharon Jenkins

(760) 744-1050 Phone

(760) 744-9058 Fax

For more information please contact the AKC Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or

The AKC Government Relations team has just become aware that the San Marcos City Council will consider a proposed ordinance which will define hobby breeders, limiting them to only three “breeding dogs, cats and/or rabbits.”