Getty Images / David McNew
A Chihuahua waits adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter on December 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
A San Francisco city commission will consider a proposal tonight to ban sales of dogs, cats and possibly other small animals by pet stores in the city.
The San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare proposed the ban in an effort to minimize the number of animals sent to city shelters, according to Commissioner Philip Gerrie.
Gerrie said animal breeders often breed large amounts of dogs and cats for sale, a practice he called "inhumane."
"It's a huge problem across the country," Gerrie said.
Gerrie's proposal to just ban sales of dogs and cats was expanded by the commission last month to include smaller creatures such as hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs and chinchillas, he said.
There would be an exemption for sales by animal shelters and rescue groups.
"There's a huge problem in this society," Gerrie said, "of us buying things that are cute. They're fun for a while but lose the novelty really soon and wind up in city shelters, which is a huge expense and can also result in euthanasia."
Gerrie said he recommended the ban for San Francisco - despite knowing residents could simply drive to neighboring Daly City to buy pets - as a way for the city to take a stand on the issue.
He said it was not the commission's intention to put local pet stores out of business, though he acknowledged smaller, non-chain stores could be severely impacted.
"Our intention is animal welfare," he said.
Pet store owners have been invited to attend tonight's hearing.
An alternative being considered by the commission is an agreement with local pet stores for them to sell animals from San Francisco's shelters.
The seven-member commission is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on the proposal at its 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall.
If the body recommends an ordinance changing city law, it would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.