New California Bill Only Allows Pet Stores to Sell Rescued or Shelter Animals

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California bill AB485, also known as the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, proposes that pet store owners not sell dogs, cats or rabbits unless they were obtained from a shelter or public animal control facility/rescue group. Supporters believe that this bill will go a long way in rights for animals subject to the cruelty of breeding conditions in puppy mills, while also saving animals that desperately need loving homes. And, at first glance, it’s a win in that direction.

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Yet, some worry that this broad movement doesn’t just affect the puppy mill breeder types, but all breeders in general, including those who are responsible, loving pet breeders looking to do good with the animals they give to this world. Many opponents of this bill believe that while animal welfare fights are important because they protect animals, this bill goes a bit too far because it punishes many who love animals and treat them respectfully and responsibly.

The bill passed the Assembly Floor at the end of May and looks to be passed fully by the Senate. The bill was co-authored by Assembly members Patrick O’Donnell and Matt Dababneh, in conjunction with the group Social Compassion in Legislation, and has bipartisan support. Assembly member O’Donnell believes the bill will end the plight of shelter dogs, cats, and rabbits, making them the only available for purchase from California stores, and Assembly member Dababneh hopes that the move will discourage the patronization of puppy mills, who use cruel and inhumane treatment with their animals.

But, many believe that the bill will make it near impossible for those who desire/need specific breeds for things like allergies or temperaments to fit particular lifestyles, and fear that responsible breeders will be put out of business. More, they fear that having only abandoned and/or abused pets as options will prevent people from having pets at all, and not really make a difference in promoting how wonderful family pets can be.

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The president of the California Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Ken Pawlowski says that the official position on this bill is a ‘watch’ because for now, it currently has no direct impact on the state’s veterinarians. He considers the bill to be a statement against puppy mills, and adds rabbits to a bill that is already similar in effect in municipalities across the state.

Mike Bober, president of The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council says they organization supports an amendment to the bill that addresses sourcing restrictions. He believes that restricting animal companion sources to highly ethical and reputable breeders will give Californians better options for finding pets that best fit their needs.