California has become the first state in the country to ban the sale of animals from puppy mills, setting a precedent that other states may soon follow. Animal welfare organizations have praised California Governor Jerry Brown for signing the law that will ban the sale of commercially raised animals in pet stores throughout the state. The new law will also encourage partnerships to promote adoption of homeless animals in the state.
36 jurisdictions in California, including San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, have passed similar ordinances. More than 230 counties, cities, and towns across the country have already passed pet store ordinances to stop cruelly-bred animals from being sold.
The law will require pet stores to work with rescue operations, animal shelters, or private breeders to sell rabbits, cats, and dogs.
So-called “puppy mills” are facilities that are set up to maximize profits at the expense of animals. Animals in mills are usually kept in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions without enough socialization, water, food, or vet care. These animals are more likely to suffer serious health problems, behavioral problems, and congenital defects.
Currently, most puppies sold in pet stores originate from a puppy mill. The vast majority of puppies sold in pet stores have parasites at the time of purchase. A recent California study found that almost half of pet store puppies were ill or incubating illness when they were purchased.
It’s estimated that there are 10,000 puppy mills across the United States, including unlicensed and licensed facilities. Every year, about 2 million puppies sold in the U.S. originate from a puppy mill. Puppy millers can earn over $300,000 from their operations every year. The female dogs in these mills are typically bred twice a year. This causes the females to burn out by the age of 5, at which point they are killed.
Many of the animals bred in puppy mills are advertised as designer or purebred dogs, which are sold at a higher price. However, it’s estimated that 25% of dogs in animal shelters are purebred. Despite this, about 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized by shelters every year.
The legislation has been supported by the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, the Best Friends Animal Society, the San Francisco SPCA, and the San Diego Humane Society. The pet store industry has said these and similar measures remove consumer protections.