Kern County cracks down on unlicensed animal breeders


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County is cracking down on people or businesses who participate in the unlicensed sale and breeding of unlicensed dogs and cats. 23ABC spoke to a local animal shelter who said selling and breeding without a license was negatively impacting their organization’s effect on the community.

Director of Pet Matchmaker Rescue Morgan Soklow says that during the pandemic, more people in Kern County have started raising their own animals.

“The problem in Kern County has long been illegal ranching. That definitely increases the numbers significantly with the populations we’re dealing with,” Soklow explained. “There are two different types of ranchers. the backyard breeders looking to make money and then there are the legal breeders who follow the rules, they don’t breed their dog more than twice.

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File image of the Kern County Animal Services building in Bakersfield, California.

According to Kern County Animal Services, to buy, sell, breed or keep dogs and cats, you must, among other things, obtain a commercial pet store license. This does not apply to animal shelters.

Commercial pet store license

No person shall own, operate, manage or maintain a commercial pet store without first obtaining a license as prescribed by the Director. The payment of an annual license fee for the operation of the commercial animal facility is made in accordance with the fee schedule established by the supervisory board. The license holder has the right to keep any number of animals provided they comply with the provisions of this title and all laws relating to commercial facilities, animal facilities, cat number limitations and /or dogs established as a condition of the permit. , and the treatment of animals.

“Commercial Pet Permit: You don’t have to be what you think you’re commercial. Just raising your dog and selling it once means you need a license to do so,” said Nick Cullen, director of Kern County Animal Services.

Definition of a commercial pet store

Commercial pet shop” means any premises in which a person engages in the activity, with regard to dogs or cats, of buying or selling, boarding, raising more than one (1) litter per year, rental or training for a fee to perform work, except an animal shelter as defined in section 7.08.015 (D)

Cullen says the ordinance has still been enforced, but more publicity and community complaints have forced officials to tighten permit enforcement.

“It’s mostly social media, people on Facebook selling puppies. We looked at a lot of them.

Soklow says some do it maliciously.

“They will use a photo of a crate to hide the fact that they are selling pedigree dogs.”

Social media posts advertising dogs for sale

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Two social media images show dogs for sale.

Cullen says that by investigating tips and complaints from the community, they find that most people don’t know they need to have a permit.

“A person or organization that was actively selling and breeding dogs wasn’t shy about it. They created their own website and advertised it, but they just didn’t know it.”

Cullen says the goal is to educate the community and achieve compliance. Otherwise, the next step is penalties.

“If a citation is issued, the court system issues the fine. We don’t. It’s usually a misdemeanor, a maximum misdemeanor.

Kern County Animal Services (FILE)

23ABC News

File image of a dog in a shelter cage at the Kern County Animal Services Adoption Center in Bakersfield, California.

Soklow says she’s relieved the county is doing more to police unlicensed breeders and vendors, but says more can be done to address this issue.

“I think a mandatory sterilization and sterilization law for the next five years would be ideal. Where you could not raise your animal without a very specific license.

Kern County Animal Services says the cost of a permit varies depending on the number of animals sold and raised and can cost between $150 and $450 per year.

If you are interested in selling and raising animals and wondering how to obtain a license or report people operating without a license, you can email [email protected] for more information.


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