There is some wonderful news in the animal world after California pet stores have been told they must get their puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centres only.
As of January 2019, it will be illegal for stores to buy animals from pet breeders and any store being caught will face a find of $500.
Individual, private buyers still being able to buy their pets from a breeder, reports the New York Times.
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The bill, A.B. 485, has had strong support from many animal welfare organisations, which claimed it was a blow to ‘puppy mills’ and ‘kitten factories’ that mass-produce animals, often in poor conditions and don’t look after them properly.
California is the first state in the US to pass the legislation, though it is following some of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have ‘passed similar measures on a smaller scale’, writes New York Times.
The bill was written by Patrick O’Donnell and Matt Dababneh, both Democrats and California Assembly members, and it was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The legislation reads:
Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals.
In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialisation or veterinary care.
It wasn’t without its opponents however, who argued the bill painted ‘puppy mills’ and responsible breeders with the ‘same broad brush’.
Mike Bober, who is the president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said the bill was ‘well-intentioned but misguided’ and said it would jeopardise hundreds of jobs.
But the number of for-profit pet stores in California had been ‘dwindling long before this bill was signed’, said Boris Jang, who owns a puppy store in Santa Ana, California.
Mr Jang said he expected the new law to put him ‘out of business’.
He said he once worked with animal brokers but stopped about four years ago after learning that the dogs might be coming from commercial breeders where animals suffered.
Since then, he said, the Puppy Store has offered a mix of dogs. About half come from shelters or rescue centres; the rest, which are sold for profit, come from small local breeders or people who have a litter they do not know what to do with. He said that if he had to switch entirely to shelter and rescue dogs, he could not afford his lease at MainPlace Mall.
Still, Mr Jang said he understood lawmakers’ intentions, he said:
Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted.
After the bill easily passed in California’s Senate and Assembly last month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals praised the state for taking action where federal regulators had fallen short.
The organisation said in a statement:
By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal ‘production’ and suffering.
But Ben Ashel, a pet store owner in the state said the new law might have ‘unintended effects’ and could mean potential pet owners will ‘order dogs online or find sneakier ways to acquire the breeds they want’.
His store, Puppy Heaven, specialises in tiny dog breeds including teacup Yorkies and toy Maltipoos said he was not sure what he would do once the law comes into play.
Mr Ashel said some people need breeds that work well with children or accommodate allergies and other health issues.
It takes the freedom of choice from people who want to get a puppy. They don’t want to get someone else’s unwanted dog or something of that nature.
They just want to start fresh with a puppy, and this law makes it very, very difficult.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea.