San Francisco, City of Bans, Edition No. 3


First came a de facto ban of Happy Meals; then a proposal for a ban on circumcisions; now comes a proposal to ban the sale of just about every living animal, including goldfish. From the L.A. Times:

Yes, goldfish. And guppies, gobies, gouramies, glowlight tetras, German blue rams. No fish, no fowl, no reptiles, no amphibians, no cats, no dogs, no gerbils, no rats. If it flies, crawls, runs, swims or slithers, you would not be able to buy it in the city named for the patron saint of animals.

It’s called the Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal:

Animal activists say it will save small but important lives, along with taxpayer money, and end needless suffering.

“Why fish? Why not fish?” said Philip Gerrie, a member of the city’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare and a coauthor of the proposal. “From Descartes on up, in the Western mindset, fish and other nonhuman animals don’t have feelings, they don’t have emotions, we can do whatever we want to them. If we considered them living beings, we would deal with them differently.… Our culture sanctions this, treating them as commodities and expendable.”

One objection:

Representatives of the $45-billion to $50-billion-a-year pet industry call the San Francisco proposal “by far the most radical ban we’ve seen” nationwide and argue that it would force small operators to close.

And one interesting loophole:

It is legal in San Francisco to sell live animals for eventual human consumption, and the proposed ban would not stop markets from selling live fish, poultry, turtles or seafood for that purpose.

If this proposal were turned into law — seemingly a big “if,” but in San Francisco it’s hard to say — I wonder who (or what) might try to wriggle through the “human consumption” loophole. Will pet stores recast themselves as exotic-food restaurants? Will people try to buy various animals for supposed consumption and then decide to let them hang around as pets? What will pet sales look like in neighboring towns?


Oh man! Banning pet sales leads to stores forced to sell pets with the instructions they are for "human consumption". This is not likely the nudge the activists had in

Also, I wonder if stores will remove the price on the pet and just increase or instate an "adoption fee".


It's democracy: SF allows people to propose all sorts of things. Most are nonsense.

Sone nonsense is just more obvious than others. Take the nonsense that the Ryan plan would be the same for seniors as what Congress gets. That's a lie passing itself off as truth, another form of nonsense.

At least SF has a method for people to propose nonsense and have it voted down.

Mike Smith

--and what about chickens owned for no other reason to lay eggs? Are they pets or poultry?

What about cows used specifically for breeding purposes (for the veal lovers)?

What if you're found guilty of owning a dog as a pet? Could you kill it and eat it to avoid the fine?

I love loopholes.


I think the ban is against selling pets, not owning pets. Presumably people can still give away pets or adopt pets at a shelter.

Allen Klosowski

So you can buy them for live sacrifice and consumption, but you can't feed and care for them in your own home? Strange.


The nanny state gone wild can have crazy unintended consequences. But equally as bad is a libertarian robber-baron state of no regulations. As is often the case, the middle way is better.


If there´s a loophole it will be used. It seems weird, but if the pet shops would become exotic food grocerie shop. The real solution that people are seeking (to end animal suffering) is not in the sale itself, but on the purpose of the purchase. Therefore, as (almost) always, education is the best remedy!
For instance, if liquor was forbidden, would not people still drink? The mistreating of animals, is a behavior derived from cultural and educational aspects. So it must be taught, not forbidden.


This is a mix of old news and a cheap shot. As mentioned above, this is democracy in action, and the proper rights of animals is a philosophical question rather than an economic one. I'm not particularly passionate about the issue, but it's not as obviously stupid as 95% of people writing about it seem to think.