California has placed the nation’s first statewide ban on the sale of puppy mill animals by pet stores. The law also encourages partnerships that promote the adoption of homeless pets.
Despite 36 cities across the state, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, already having bans on mass breeding this is a landmark move in the campaign against large-scale operations that breed dogs for profit.
The decision was announced by Governor Jerry Brown last Friday to the cheers of animal rights organisations and animal lovers across the state. The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2019, will require any pet store that wants to sell animals (dogs, cats, and rabbits) to work with local animal shelters or rescue groups — or face a $500 fine per sale of any large-scale-breeder-produced animal.
California joins more than 230 cities, towns and counties across the U.S. that have passed pet store ordinances to take a stand against allowing cruelly-bred animals to be sold in their communities.
Despite enticing claims that they only source from licensed, humane or small-scale breeders, pet stores across the country are invariably supplying unsuspecting consumers with animals from puppy and kitten “mills.”
Puppy mills and other mass breeding operations focus on breeding purebreds and “unique” mixes, but are often places of extreme cruelty and unnecessary animal deaths. Animals are often forced to live in small cages in cramped conditions, where they are made to give birth over and over again without ever getting to nurse or raise their offspring. Animals bred in these conditions may also suffer severe health problems, including contagious and deadly diseases and congenital defects, as well as behavioral problems
“By signing this groundbreaking bill, California has set an important, humane precedent for other states to follow,” Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, said in a statement.
“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.”
It is important to note that the new law does not prohibit the private sale of animals, in particular when they are sold directly from one person to another. This means cases of pets being sold via Craigslist will undoubtedly rise, whilst backyard breeder operations also increase.
UK calls for tighter legislation
Animal rights groups in the UK have also called for tighter legislation on the sale of puppies.
Since 2015 the RSPCA has run a campaign to halt the illegal trafficking of puppies and ensure all dogs are bred in an environment which prioritises their welfare.
In February this year it was announced that the sale of puppies under eight weeks old was to be made illegal and anyone breeding or selling three or more litters of puppies a year would have to apply for a formal licence.
However, the move was criticised by some who felt it did not go far enough.
Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, welcomed the announcement but said he was unhappy the Government had not banned the third party sale of dogs.