California prides itself as being a progressive state. And if a proposed statewide law banning the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores passes, the state will surely be considered even more progressive, as it will be the first to create such statewide restrictions on what pet stores are able to sell.
Lawmakers voted 44-6 to send the measure to the California state senate. The bill came from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), who is aware that no responsible breeders ever sell to pet stores, and that the dogs and cats sold at pet stores are from mass producers (puppy mills).
The bill, AB485, does not allow sales, but it will encourage pet stores to adopt animals from legitimate nonprofit rescues and shelters.
More than 200 communities across the U.S.and Canada—ranging from Chicago to Austin to Toronto to Albuquerque—have similar pet store restrictions in place at local levels. Several counties, including Cook County in the Chicago area, have bans as well. Californians are already more than half way there, as most of the population resides in cities where similar pet store restrictions are in place, including Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, and San Francisco. In all, more than 30 California communities limit pet store sales.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), however, suggests the bill is anti-breeder. In fact, the bill does allow California residents to purchase animals directly from breeders, so purchasers have an opportunity to see the living conditions of the animals, and, when purchasing puppies or kittens, to hopefully meet the parents. Legitimate purebred dog breeders are not impacted, despite what the AKC says.
There have been some concerns expressed, primarily by those on the right, that the measure hurts small business (pet shops that sell dogs and cats). But, many independent small stores across the state, and across the nation, do just fine without selling dogs and cats.
Glendale Assemblyman Laura Friedman, a democrat, said that when her city passed a similar ordinance, the City Council didn’t receive any complaints from pet stores but did see a decrease in the number of unwanted animals.
Many who oppose the bill suggest the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can offer information about breeding facilities if there are questions by consumers seeking to purchase dogs or cats from pet stores. However, that is simply untrue. The USDA, which regulates commercial kennels, removed inspection reports from its website, making it often nearly impossible for consumers to learn about the origin of their pets, or the truth about the origin of their pets.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and AKC are among those who have registered opposition.
Even if, somehow, the bill doesn’t manage to pass, it’s only a matter of time before something similar does. And, other states are considering such laws. Meanwhile, communities all over the country continue to ban pet store sales of dogs and cats (and, in some places, rabbits).