Officers will step up their enforcement on people who illegally buy and sell animals along the Venice boardwalk and throughout the city of Los Angeles.
In an effort to protect pets and people, officials on Thursday announced that they will increase their focus on raising public awareness on a one-year-old law that prohibits not only the sale of animals on city streets and sidewalks, but also their purchase.
City workers will distribute 7,000 flyers throughout Los Angeles, mostly in the Fashion District and Venice Beach, where the problem is more prevalent. And, police will ramp up efforts to crack down on violators, according to LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith.
“Its a shame. Many times we’ve seen bunnies being sold with broken limbs, and when we’ve confiscated animals, man of them were dead in the box,” Smith said.
The L.A. City Council passed a law banning the purchase of animals on the street in August 2011 that imposes fines from $250 for a first offense up to $1,000 for repeat offenders.
“Sale of live animals on city streets poses a risk not only to the animals, but also to those who purchase them,” said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced legislation banning the practice.
Some pets sold on the street carry infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans, especially children. And, many animals are too young to be away from their mothers, according to Brenda Barnette, head of the city’s animal service department.
In the last month, 18 metal signs, measuring about two feet by three feet, were installed in Los Angeles, 12 in the Fashion District and six in Venice along the boardwalk.
In Venice, Voice for the Animals Foundation, a nonprofit based in Santa Monica, has tried to reduce the illegal practice by sending uncover volunteers to the boardwalk to alert police.
Meyla Kaplan, executive director at Voice for Animals, said that she and staffers have seen people carrying wheelbarrows of puppies as young as three weeks old to be sold along the boardwalk. She hopes fining people who buy street pets will dry up the market for the sellers.