California Set to Become First State to Ban Sale of Puppy Mill Dogs

California is poised to become the first state in the nation to enact a ban on the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits. Assembly Bill 485 (“AB 485”), the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, passed through the California legislature on September 14, with overwhelming support, garnering unanimous approval in the senate. The bill now sits on Governor Brown’s desk, and if signed, will mark the first statewide pet store ban in the country.

AB 485 is a pragmatic measure that will save countless lives of California’s homeless companion animals, as well as cut off the supply chain for puppy mills. Every year, over six million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters and approximately two million are euthanized. In California alone, more than 800,000 dogs, cats, and rabbits go through municipal shelters and almost half are euthanized.

AB 485 will provide California’s homeless pets a greater chance of finding a home by requiring retail pet stores to source their animals from municipal shelters, humane societies, and rescues. Not only will this create space in the state’s overburdened sheltering system, it will also promote adoption and open the public’s eyes to the wide variety of animals that can be found at local shelters and rescues.

In addition to the immediate lifesaving impact of this bill, AB 485 will serve as a means to curtail the cruel and inhumane puppy mill industry. Virtually all animals sold in retail pet stores are sourced from commercial breeding operations, such as puppy mills and kitty factories. These mass breeding facilities are known for their filthy, overcrowded conditions and the unhealthy animals they produce. Last Chance for Animals has been at the forefront of the fight against puppy mills, going undercover and exposing the cruelty and neglect occurring in these breeding operations throughout the United States and abroad.

In 2010, LCA revealed the deplorable living conditions that breeding dogs and puppies were subjected to at a Hawaiian puppy mill. LCA's investigators documented over 130 dogs living in squalor, being forced to live amongst mounds of feces, and suffering from innumerable ailments that were left untreated.  This investigation led to the rescue of all the dogs at the puppy mill and its operator being charged with 153 counts of animal cruelty.

Over the years, LCA’s advocacy and undercover investigative footage at puppy mills led to Los Angeles becoming one of first southern California cities to ban the retail sale of commercially bred dogs and cats in 2012. LCA has worked tirelessly to promote pet adoption and educate pet storeowners about how they contribute to the problem of puppy mills and pet overpopulation. LCA’s ‘Puppy Mill Free Stores’ campaign helped launch the first humane pet stores in Los Angeles. 

AB 485 is the natural progression of California’s notable interest in promoting animal welfare initiatives. The state has long been a trailblazer for animal protection, leading to its reputation as the most humane state in the nation. California is the only state to ban the sale of foie gras, it was the second to ban the use of the cruel and inhumane bullhook, and it was the first state to pass comprehensive farm animal welfare reform, banning veal crates and battery cages. It is fitting for California to be the first state to enact a retail pet store ban.   

California is widely regarded as a leading force for progressive issues. Animal advocates across the country are watching to see if California will enact this groundbreaking statewide ban, hoping that it will prompt a wave of similar bills across the U.S. Currently over 100 cities in 20 different states have passed ordinances prohibiting the sale of commercially bred companion animals. If AB 485 becomes law, the opportunity for other states to pass similar legislation will expand and the national movement against retail pet sales will gain much needed momentum. Now is the time for California to take the next pioneering step for animal protection by standing against the abusive commercial breeding industry and giving a second chance to millions of homeless companion animals across the state.

 What you can do to help

  1. If you are a California resident, please contact Gov. Jerry Brown and ask him to sign AB 485 into law. You can reach the governor’s office by phone at 916-445-2841 or fill out a contact form online.

  2. Residents outside of California can contact their state elected officials and politely ask them to introduce similar legislation.

  3. If you are thinking about bringing a new pet into your home, always adopt from a shelter or rescue.

  4. Donate to LCA to support undercover investigations of abusive industries like puppy mills.

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