Once again, California leads the way

On January 1st, California became the first state in U.S. to require pet stores to sell rescue animals. From now on, all dogs, cats and rabbits sold in California pet stores must come from animal shelters or rescue groups.

Other states are now following California’s lead. Kevin O’Neill, vice president for state affairs of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sees the California law as the beginning of a national trend. Washington State, New York and New Jersey are all considering similar laws. O’Neill thinks that more and more states will soon be passing similar legislation.

Across the U.S., more than 250 cities and towns have passed laws to ban the mass breeding of dogs and cats, the A.S.P.C.A. said. In November, Atlanta became the ninth city in Georgia to outlaw so-called puppy and kitten mills. Instead, pet stores may only offer cats and dogs for adoption, the Atlanta city council announced.

These Laws Are Urgently Needed

Breeding facilities often operate with little or no government oversight. Consequently, the animals live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Moreover, they often do not receive sufficient food, water, socialization or veterinary care, according to a fact sheet for the legislation, A.B. 485.

According to the fact sheet, pet store operators are rarely aware of the conditions in these facilities.

Stiff Penalties for Non-Compliance

Governor Jerry Brown signed the new regulations into law in October 2017. That gave pet store owners over fourteen months to comply with the new law.

California already had several cities and counties which had similar laws on the books. However, the new law is the first to apply to the entire state, the fact sheet said. Pet store owners face a penalty of $500 per animal for non-compliance.

People may still buy dogs or cats directly from breeders, however.