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Phoenix vote could ban animals from 'puppy mills'

These animals were rescued from a puppy mill. (AP Photo)

PHOENIX -- Phoenix could soon follow the lead of Los Angeles and San Diego by restricting sales at pet stores.

On Wednesday, the city council will vote on banning stores from selling dogs and cats obtained from large, commercial breeders, often referred to as "puppy mills."

"They're into quantity, never quality," said council member Thelda Williams. "They treat the puppies horribly."

Williams believes there is enough support among council members to approve the ban and to require stores to only sell dogs and cats they get from shelters and non-profit rescue groups.

"We support local business, we're not putting them out of business," said Williams. "We are giving them an option where they can get dogs. I think if the big stores can survive really well on it, the little ones can too."

Many big retailers, like Phoenix-based PetSmart, work with animal-welfare groups to run adoption programs in their stores. In 2011, Macerich, the company that owns several shopping malls in the Valley, announced it will not renew existing pet store leases.

The proposed ban would not apply to small, local breeders.

If Phoenix councilmembers approve the ordinance, it would take effect in 30 days. Williams said violators could face misdemeanor charges.

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