Pennsylvania Bill to Ban Sales of Dogs Cats at Pet Stores


Of all the states, Pennsylvania may be the champion (with Missouri) when it comes to puppy mills. (And, this isn’t a championship any state should want.) For years, puppy mills have thrived in Pennsylvania, especially in the Amish communities around the state.

In 2017, Pennsylvania passed landmark legislation, called Libre’s Law, which made it a potential felony to leave a dog out in extreme hot or cold weather. At the time, I had hoped they would step up to do something about the many puppy mills in the state, and I’m happy to report that this could be step one.

A bill being drafted by two state lawmakers would outlaw the sales of puppy mill dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores in Pennsylvania. This would be a huge start and would follow in the footsteps of the entire state of California and a few hundred other communities, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Key West, Florida; North Miami Beach, Florida; St. Petersburg, Florida; and multiple cities in Canada.

The bill would require that the only pets available in pet stores would be adopted from animal shelters and rescue organizations. It would also ban the sale of pets at outdoor venues, like flea markets.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is notorious for its puppy mills. In 2017, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) included seven local dog-breeding facilities on a list of the 100 worst mills in the nation.

The bill is being drafted by state Senator Guy Reschenthaler and state Representative Jason Ortitay, both of whom represent Allegheny and Washington counties.

“It is well documented that ‘puppy mills,’ inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities, frequently supply pet stores with puppies,” Ortitay wrote in a memorandum seeking cosponsors on the state House website. “Consumers often spend thousands of dollars caring for sick puppies from pet stores, in some cases, only to suffer the heartbreak of their new pet dying.”

The law would not affect responsible breeders, as they do not sell to pet stores. Still, the American Kennel Club (AKC), a supporter of responsible breeding—or so they say—has worked hard and spent big money across America to fight this sort of legislation. By their actions, they support puppy mill dogs (and cats) sold at pet stores.

Interestingly, Pittsburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, already have laws to prevent the sales of dogs and cats at pet stores.

The hope is that both Senator Reschenthaler and Representative Ortitay both hear from animal lovers, especially their constituents, to support their bill. If history repeats itself, the AKC and the pet store industry will work hard to fight this bill, even though it’s in this state where puppy mills thrive, and dogs and cats sold at pet stores most often come from such inhumane and horrific puppy mills.  While such legislation is welcome anywhere, it if passes here, look for more states to more readily follow.

Meanwhile, in Florida, where over 50 municipalities ban the sales of dogs and cats at pet stores, a national pet store chain (that sells dogs and cats at their stores) has reportedly attempted to sneak preemption of laws already passed into other state bills. So far, that effort has been unsuccessful, but if successful, all of those laws already passed would be nullified.