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California Law Requires Pet Shops to Only Sell Rescue Dogs, Cats, and Rabbits

The new law will prevent the sale of dogs, rabbits, and cats from controversial "animal mills."

This week, California is expected to become the first state to ban the sale of non-rescue dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores. The state Senate has already unanimously passed bill A.B. 485, which is meant to encourage pet stores to provide pets from shelters instead “animal mills” and should be signed by Governor Jerry Brown in the next few days. The bill represents a step in the direction of pushing pet owners to take on rescue animals. That’s good. But it also does something else: By tackling puppy mills, it will protect young kids from dog attacks.

Bill A.B. 485 makes it clear that pet shop owners may only sell dogs, cats, and rabbits that have been obtained from an animal shelter or something similar in nature, such as a “society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter.” (It is worth noting that shelters are held to high standards, mostly by the people who operate them, but also by a number of laws.) The primary purpose of this law is to discourage “animal mills,”  facilities that breed dogs and other animals at a high volume with the sole intent of selling them and little regard for their welfare. Puppy mills are frequently cruel and even well run pet shops that sell puppies bred in those conditions tend to see high rates of disease and mental illness.


woman looking at puppy at pet shop

Why does a law against puppy mills save children? That’s pretty simple. Due to the poor treatment they receive, pets that come from animal mills are far more likely to attack humans. And when a dog attacks a human, it is far more likely to be a child under the age of 10 than some older. So it can be relatively safely assumed that pet shops providing more shelter pets will ultimately be safer families.

This bill is a win for both pets and pet owners everywhere and hopefully, it marks the beginning of the end for the horrific animal mills that value profit over an animal’s wellbeing. But until then, we can all be glad to know that at least in California, countless rescue dogs will finally get the homes they so desperately need.