Look, San Francisco, I know your intentions are good. With shelters full of adoptable animals, it’s more than a little heartbreaking to walk past a pet store and see doggies in the window that undoubtedly came from puppy mills. If a major metropolitan area like yourself banned the sale of cats and dogs, it would be a boon to animals, especially if you found a way to grant exceptions to smaller-scale, responsible breeders, a point your officials say they’re still discussing.
But apparently that wasn’t enough. Last year, the ban on the sale of cats and dogs was put on hold when your Commission of Animal Control and Welfare decided to extend the prohibition to “anything with fur or feathers,” which would include hamsters, rats, guinea pigs and all manner of birds. And as if the resulting media mockery wasn’t enough (Bill O’Reilly, predictably, branded all San Franciscans “kooks”), the authors of the proposal used the extra time to up the ante by adding fish, reptiles and amphibians to the ban. (The proposal would not affect selling live animals for human consumption, raising the question of whether aquarium enthusiasts will soon be buying castles and little scuba-diver figurines for new home lobster tanks.)
Here’s your problem, San Francisco: You don’t realize that social legislation is like garlic. When used sparingly, it can provide a useful kick to a dish. When overused, it makes people run away every time you open your mouth.