California is poised to become the first US state to force pet stores to only sell dogs, cats and rabbits that have come from a shelter or rescue organization.
Introduced by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), the bill known as AB 485 was designed primarily to crack down on puppy mills, which allegedly keep female dogs and cats in horrific conditions in order to churn out litters of inbred animals that are then transported hundreds of miles before being sold. AB 485 also has the potential to prevent countless healthy animals from being euthanized in pet shelters, which do not have the resources to care for the 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats that enter US animal shelters every year.
"This bill brings California into compliance with compassion and common sense," O'Donnell said at a recent news conference as he held a shelter dog in his arms.
Similar ordinances have already been adopted by over 30 US cities including Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and, as of last February, San Francisco.
Aimed directly at large-scale breeding operations, San Francisco’s measure does not affect licensed breeders and, like the measures of its predecessors, bans the sale of puppies under eight weeks old.
Following the vote, Mimi Bekhechi, who serves as director of PETA’s international programs, claimed that it is the “greed�? of pet shops that “fuels the commercial breeding industry.�?
“The city has recognized that animals are not commodities and that there's a direct link between the industry and the millions of dogs and cats in shelters around the world who are euthanized each year because there aren't enough good homes for them all,�? she added.
AB 485 was passed by California’s Assembly Business and Professions Committee earlier this week but is currently facing opposition from many local pet retailers, especially those who get most, if not all, of their animals from commercial breeders. David Salinas, the owner of four San Diego pet stores, says animal rights activists have given commercial breeders an unfairly negative reputation.
“They say all commercial breeders are puppy mills,�? Salinas told the Los Angeles Times. “They shouldn’t force that ideology on everyone.�?
Other opposers of AB 485 believe that most shop owners only buy from a large-scale breeder that are regulated and consistently inspected. This is why it’s possible that unregulated puppy mills conduct most of their sales online. Critics might also question how an aspiring owner would go about obtaining a purebred pet if the bill passes but advocates were quick to suggest buying directly from a reputable, local breeder. Several subscribers to the Sacramento Bee wrote in the comments section of a recent AB 485 article that any experienced pet owner knows that reputable breeders are the only reliable source for purebred pets.
Assemblyman O’Donnell and his supporters were likely encouraged by the ongoing rise in animal adoption, which even pertains to senior animals. Many shelter animals are euthanized purely because of their age but a recent survey found a steady increase in the adoption of dogs that are at least seven years old.
The Grey Muzzle reports that 80% of owners of shelters and rescue organizations believe the perception of senior dogs has changed dramatically as of late, and for a variety of reasons. For one, the public is beginning to understand that senior dogs are typically more calm and already house-trained. The increase in younger people adopting senior dogs proves the active role of social media, which has almost made the gracious act into a “trend.�? It’s senior citizens, however, that are the most open to adopting senior dogs, according to two-thirds of rescue organizations and shelters.
“Older people have slowed down in their lives and lifestyles and are looking for similar traits in their companion dogs,�? says Robert Jachens of Thulani Program, which rescues German Shepherds ages ten and up. Customer satisfaction is so high, Jachens added, that more than 60% of adopters are returning to adopt a second dog.