A new bill in California means that by the year 2019, pet stores in California will only be allowed to sell cats, dogs and rabbits if they have been taken from shelters and animal rescue centres.
The bill, Assembly Bill No.485 will prevent pet stores from obtaining these animals from mass-producing breeding farms, where the animals can often be kept in incredibly cramped, unhealthy and inhumane conditions. The bill has been praised by many animal rights groups as a boon to the housing of rescued animals and a blow to an industry which often prioritises the number of puppies or kittens it can produce, without regard for their happiness or well-being. California is the first state to pass such a law but several towns and cities, including Boston, had already adopted similar policies banning pet stores from using puppy mills.
According to a fact sheet produced for the legislation, federal laws impose minimum health and safety requirements for such breeding establishments, which must also undergo inspections. However, these minimal requirements are far from generous, ” For example, under the AWA (Animal Welfare Act), a cage is required to be only six inches larger than the animal it houses and cleaned just once a week. “ The fact sheet goes on to mention that all information on the US Department of Agriculture website was recently taken down, making it much more difficult for pet stores or even private buyers to check up on whomever they’re buying pets from.
A.B. 485 will greatly reduce the millions of tax dollars spent on keeping animals in often crowded animal shelters while giving these animals a much greater chance of finding homes. Pet stores who fail to comply with the new law will face fines and not everyone is happy about this. According to the New York Times, many pet store owners fear that this new bill will put them out of business, with the increased cost of buying from shelters. One pet owner described the lawmaker’s hearts as being in the right place, but their thinking “a little shortsighted.”
Ben Ashel, the owner of Puppy Heaven, a California store which specialises in matching its customers with miniature dogs, felt that consumers wouldn’t be happy with the decision. Ashel said that people “don’t want to get someone else’s unwanted dog or something of that nature”, adding that people want to start fresh with a new puppy. If that is the case, then private individuals still have every legal right to buy from private breeders or from out of state pet stores. However, the incredible support for this bill would suggest that most people care deeply about finding “someone else’s unwanted dog” a new home with someone who does want them.