It's Official! California Is the First State to Ban the Pet Store Sale of Puppy Mill Dogs

Under the new legislation, pet store operators will be required to obtain pets from animal shelters and rescue groups

Photo: Colin McConnell/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Cat, dogs, bunnies and more received a big break this week.

California’s Assembly Bill 485 has passed, making California the first state to ban the sale of commercially-bred pets in pet stores statewide.

“This landmark law breaks the puppy mill supply chain that pushes puppies into California pet stores and has allowed unscrupulous breeders to profit from abusive practices,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “We’re proud to be part of the coalition that worked alongside Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell to pass this critical animal protection bill, and thank the California legislature and Governor Brown for sending the clear message that industries supporting animal cruelty will not be tolerated in our society.”

Under this new law, it is illegal for pet stores to sell pets bought from a commercial breeder, places like puppy mills and backyard breeders that cruelly turn out neglected and unhealthy animals for a profit. Instead, the animals available at California pet stores will have to be rescue/shelter pets that are in need of a home.

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The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. From that day on, pet store operators will be prohibited from selling any live dog, cat or rabbit in a pet store unless the animal was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter, Humane Society shelter, or rescue group.

The new law also demands more transparency from pet stores. Pet store owners will be required to keep records on each animal they sell and to post on the pet’s cage how the animal was obtained by the store. Pet store operators that violate these new regulations will be charged a civil penalty of $500 for the violation.

“By signing this groundbreaking bill, California has set an important, humane precedent for other states to follow,” said Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “We commend Governor Brown’s signing of this lifesaving legislation to codify statewide what cities across California have already done to help put an end to the cruelty of pet mills.”

Animal welfare groups like the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society and Last Chance for Animals hope this historic move by California will inspire other states to protect their pets and put an end to puppy mills and other cruel breeding operations.

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