Fresno County is making it legal to sell live animals at swap meets

FRESNO, Calif -- The state of California has banned swap meet pet sales but allows counties to set their own rules.

The county could have just gone along with state law and banned all swap meet pet sales, but Fresno County will instead allow them, but require a veterinarian to certify each sale, and hold the swap meet operator responsible for the welfare of the animals.

These birds, bunnies and other small animals, nearly a thousand of them were going to be sold at a local swap meet. But they were discovered sick and dying in a hot truck, last June. Brenda Mitchell of Fresno Animal Humane Services, the county animal shelter, was one of their rescuers. She does not believe pets should be sold at swap meets.

"Absolutely not, absolutely not for one thing people don't understand how complicated the care is a lot of these animals, and there's just so many better places that people can acquire pets than at a swap meet, it's just not the place to get a pet," said Mitchell.

Swap meet sales of animals were actually banned in California last year, but the law gives counties the right to allow them if they pass their own ordinances to regulate sales. Eric Johnson sells animals at local swap meets and asked Fresno county to pass an ordinance so he can stay in business.

"I do want regulations for what we do, and obviously there's been some bad cases of people abusing animals," said Johnson.

Johnson told the board selling animals at swap meets is his job, he raises a variety at his home near Reedley.

"We carry hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, finches, iguanas, pythons," said Johnson.

Fresno County Environmental Health Director Wayne Fox, drew up the county ordinance to control sales of pets at swap meets, saying it is a way to control the business and protect the animals.

"It is up to the operator of the swap meet to make sure where they are getting their animals from those people, those operators follow all state laws and the animals are properly taken care of," said Fox.

County Supervisor Chairman Bryan Pacheco expressed reservations.

"I'm generally not in favor of selling these animals at a swap meet but the state of California allows that and you have a certain set of guidelines that a licensed veterinarian I will sign off on that," said Pacheco.

The rest of the board also approved. Even though she does not like swap meet pet sales Brenda Mitchell supports the county, regulations.

"In my perfect world, nobody would sell and exploit animals period. But what we are trying to do is make sure we can monitor and keep good close tabs on where the animals are being sold, what condition they are in," said Mitchell