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California legislature makes history for the animals

Update: We're thrilled to share that on October 13, 2017, California governor Jerry Brown signed AB 485 into law, making California the first state in the nation to enact a statewide prohibition on pet store sales of dogs from puppy mills.

The dominos are really beginning to fall on pet store sales of mill-bred animals.

California has often led the nation when it comes to legislation to protect animals. In fact, one of the first communities in the nation to pass a law restricting the retail sale of pets to only pets from shelters or rescue groups was South Lake Tahoe. Now, California is poised to pass the same type of legislation for the entire state.

It’s been 10 years since the first peaceful protests took place in front of Los Angeles pet stores that received their puppies from substandard commercial breeding operations. The demonstrations were educational in nature and were aimed at the unsuspecting public, who, at the time, largely believed that animals in pet stores were worth the astronomical price tag. Of course, they were not, with so many of the consumers who paid those prices subsequently not only learning that their new puppy came from a puppy mill, but also far too often finding themselves in possession of a sick animal — sometimes terminally sick.

Those rallies led to the enactment of some of the most progressive laws in the country regarding the sale of pets, and before too long, most major cities in California, such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco, all passed similar laws. About one-quarter of the state’s population live in communities with the restriction, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this follow-through on codifying this incredibly strong protection for animals at the state level.

Assembly Bill 485, authored by assembly member Patrick O’Donnell, will help put an end to the suffering of animals in commercial breeding operations (the majority of which are in the Midwest) by banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from mills. Passed with overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature, the bipartisan bill now just awaits the signature of California’s governor, Jerry Brown, before it becomes the first statewide law of its kind in the nation.

Pet stores supplied by puppy mills are becoming a thing of the past — and hopefully along with them, pet mills themselves will one day also be out of business. Throughout California, most pet stores have already transitioned their business model to a more humane model that focuses on the adoption of animals from shelters or rescue groups, rather than the sale of animals from inhumane breeding facilities.

Once thought to be a terrible idea from a business perspective, the opposite has turned out to be the case. The pet-loving public has embraced the new, humane-model stores. The shift has helped to reduce the burden on animal shelters, and on taxpayers, who subsidize the cost of housing — and often killing — homeless animals.

The fate of this landmark legislation is now in the governor’s hands. We call on all Californians to take one more step to make this lifesaving bill a reality. Please contact Governor Brown and urge him to sign AB 485 into law. The animals are counting on us!

Together, we will Save Them All.

Francis Battista, Co-founder, Best Friends Animal Society Francis Battista
Co-founder
Best Friends Animal Society