The landscape of pet ownership is about to experience a radical shift, at least in California. Beginning Tuesday, January 1, 2019, pet stores located in the state will no longer be able to sell certain animals sourced from anywhere other than rescue and shelter organizations.
Pet stores have been perpetually under fire by animal rights activists for making use of “puppy mills,” businesses that supply stores with dogs and other pets reared in questionable and sometimes inhumane environments. According to the Humane Society [PDF], squalid conditions in cramped cages or poor hygienic standards can result in puppies with long-term health conditions or communicable diseases. PAWS, a non-profit animal rights group, estimates that 90 percent of puppies currently sold in stores come from mills.
The new California law, AB 485, aims to reduce the demand for puppies from such places by requiring that commercial pet stores traffic exclusively in dogs, cats, and rabbits that have been sourced from a rescue. Stores will need to keep records of where the animal was obtained, along with required spaying and neutering documentation. The information also needs to be posted near the animal’s cage.
Opponents of the bill have criticized it for making it harder for buyers to select the specific breed they want, and because offering shelter animals could cut significantly into a store’s profits, leading some to close their doors.
Prospective owners will still be able to buy puppies and kittens directly from breeders. If a store is found to be in violation of the law, a $500 penalty can be issued.