There’s good news for animal rights advocates and animal lovers from the state of California. A state law went into effect on January 1, 2019 that bans pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, or rabbits from commercial breeders. Pet stores will now only be able to sell rescue animals from local shelters.
The law was signed in late 2017, so pet store owners have had over a year to prepare for the change.
The new policy is designed to discourage animal mills and for-profit breeders who forcibly breed animals to sell to pet stores.
There are dozens of horror stories about the conditions in these facilities, which are focused on profits rather than animal welfare, and often keep animals in filthy and cramped conditions before shuttling them off to pet stores.
Animals in these conditions often received no veterinary care and there have been multiple accounts of pet stores selling sick animals that died shortly after their purchase. Sick animals can also spread diseases to other pets and even to humans.
Breeding facilities often keep breeding stock in squalid conditions while their babies are shipped off to pet stores without any socialization skills.
Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told The Dodo:
“[This] takes us one big step closer to the day when puppy mills have nowhere left to sell.”
The Dodo also reports that rabbits are included in the law because they are often sold by pet stores as “starter pets,” but require just as much care as other animals and can live 10 years or longer.
By ensuring that pets come from shelters, sellers can provide potential buyers with more information about the animal being sold and ensure that buyers are prepared to take on the responsibility so fewer animals end up being returned (especially after being neglected because a buyer doesn’t know how to properly care for them) or abandoned.
Animal advocates hope the new California legislation is only the beginning and that other states will join the fight against cruel commercial breeding practices.
According to the ASPCA:
“California joins more than 230 cities, towns and counties across the U.S. that have passed pet store ordinances to take a stand against allowing cruelly-bred animals to be sold in their communities.”
Before the law became state-wide, 36 jurisdictions in California put the legislation into place. The hope is that these other cities will have the same effect on their states.
The law will also have a positive economic impact on taxpayers. Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, told the ASPCA that “California taxpayers spend over a quarter of a billion dollars every year to house homeless animals.”
The new law will ensure that rescue animals have a better chance of being adopted instead of languishing in shelters while pet stores sell the “products” of animals mills instead. Not only do the animals win, but so do taxpayers.
But the pet mills, as well as some pet stores and their lobbyists, are fighting back.
The Humane Society reports that after their gruesome undercover investigation of the treatment of dogs at two Petland stores, over a hundred Petland customers have come forward with complaints about the dogs they purchased at the U.S. pet store chain. But that hasn’t stopped Petland from supporting animal mills.
Petland is the only national chain that still sells commercially raised puppies and despite the bad press is attempting to stop towns and cities from passing bans on puppy mill dog sales.
They are currently lobbying to pass bills in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Nebraska that would strip localities of their rights to regulate the sale of animal mill pets in order to protect the profits of large-scale commercial breeders.
If you’re concerned about animal welfare in your town, city, or state, you can contact local officials to ask about legislation being proposed and call or write to express your opinions.