California is leading the way to elevate the status of animals in society by targeting puppy mills and giving shelter animals a chance to find loving homes. A major victory for animal welfare this week as Bill 485 is officially enacted, titled the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, unanimously passed the California state senate and will be effective as of January 1, 2019. The Bill requires that all pet stores and retail sellers sell dogs, cats, and rabbits that come from animal shelters or non-profit animal rescue organizations. Violators could face civil penalties of up to $500.00.
This legislation is a big step towards preventing the mass breeding operations of puppy mills. While the public has become increasingly aware of the problems with such institutions like puppy mills, humane regulations at the state and federal level have been lacking until recently.
The goal of this legislation is to reduce the breeding in puppy mills which profit from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits to pet stores, kept in horrible conditions. Another goal of this enactment is to increase the chances of adoption for homeless animals. There is criticism from some breeders the law prevents people from ethical breeding and picking pure breed animals, however, with the high shelter killing this should not be a priority. As well, private humane breeders can continue to sell animals independently.
To date, over 230 cities, towns and counties across the U.S. have passed ordinances to prevent the sale of animals in pet shops, bred under cruel and inhumane conditions and 36 of these are local jurisdictions in California. This Bill is the first to regulate the sale of pets at a state level.
California is an animal loving state with a large population, making it a huge market for pets. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) conducted investigations in pet stores in Los Angeles and discovered some stores were denying that their dogs came from puppy mills. In fact, investigators could prove they came from mills in the most horrific confinement operations. This legislation will force consumers seeking to adopt an animal to no longer knowingly or unknowingly support or buy into these practices. Even if a consumer does not adopt an animal from a shelter, the only other option would be to purchase through an ethical breeder, more likely to cater to the welfare of the animals. Despite these investigations, HSUS reports that prior to this Bill, 391 pet stores in California had already agreed to not sell dogs raised in puppy mills and most have moved to selling rescued animals.
HSUS claims the irresponsible mass-breeding of animal mills leads to shelters killing more than 1.5 million animals annually. The Bill intends to reduce the number of animals that are surrendered to shelters, which helps fulfill the goal of what is known as the No Kill Movement. Nathan Winograd, Director of the No Kill Advocacy Center, rightfully rejects the slaughter of animals in shelters and advocates implementation of lifesaving programs and services to ensure that animals are not killed. Similarly, The Best Friends Animal Society has a commitment to end shelter killing completely by 2025, by making every city in the United States a No Kill city. A 90 percent save rate is the general threshold for a city to be considered no kill. Organizations like these work collaboratively with shelters to help them adhere to a no kill policy. Having the support of legislation like Bill 485 in every state, would increase the likelihood that all shelters across the nation can be no kill and give animals a second chance.
California is setting a precedent for other jurisdictions to enact similar progressive laws. Reducing the mass “consumer” breeding will result not only in less animals suffering in deplorable conditions and the continuation of unethical “puppy mill operations” and more homes can be found for the many animals sitting in shelters. It can go a long way toward saving lives!!