LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed an ordinance intended to reduce animal cruelty associated with puppy mills run by irresponsible breeders.

The ordinance was spearheaded by Supervisor Michael Antonovich, an animal lover who presents a dog or cat for adoption at virtually every board meeting he attends.

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“This ordinance will close puppy mills, which have historically abused animals by placing them in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food and water,” Antonovich said.

Under the new rules, breeders will be required to:
— wait until dogs are at least 12 months old before breeding them;
— keep puppies on premises until they are at least eight weeks old;
— separate pregnant females at least three days before they give birth;
— and provide nesting boxes for the mothers and their puppies.

All new pups will have to be microchipped or tattooed at four months, so that they can be identified by county officials tracking health concerns. Pet stores will have to disclose the source of their animals.

“We feel that there are a lot of additional protections in place” as a result of the ordinance, Marcia Mayeda, the head of Animal Care and Control, said.

Most breeders will be limited to housing 50 unspayed or unneutered dogs more than a year old, but others may be allowed to keep more animals if they can demonstrate that they can properly care for them.

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County Counsel Andrea Ordin said that attorneys looked at similar ordinances across the nation and were concerned about the legality of imposing a hard limit on the number of animals.

However, breeders who can persuade county officials that they can care for more than 50 dogs will be held to higher standards for medical record-keeping, required to staff facilities for 18 hours a day and subject to more frequent inspections by county employees, at their own cost.

“We will be out there regularly to check,” Mayeda said.

The full text of the ordinance, which also prohibits individual pet owners from tying dogs to a fence or a tree for long periods of time, or using a choke collar to tie a dog to a running line, can be found by visiting:
» The Department of Animal Care & Control

Antonovich said the ordinance would be mailed to all of the county’s 88 cities, urging them to adopt similar measures.

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