California has become the first state to require all stores that sell dogs, cats and rabbits to offer adoptable pets from nonprofit shelters and rescue groups rather than through breeders or puppy mills.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 into law on Friday. The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act was drafted by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach.
O’Donnell, whose family has two rescue dogs, said the issue “was very personal” to him.
“It’s a big win for our four-legged friends, of course,” O’Donnell said in a statement Friday. “But also for California taxpayers who spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize animals in our shelters. I am so grateful for the strong support we have received from animal lovers across the state and from Social Compassion in Legislation, the sponsor of the bill.
Pet industry leaders decried the new law.
“Assembly Bill 485 reverses California’s tradition of being a national leader in pet and consumer protection,” said Mike Bober, chairman of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. “It also strips consumers of many protections at pet stores, jeopardizes hundreds of jobs and reduces choice of pets.”
Sheila Goffe, vice president of government relations for the American Kennel Club, said the law “does not distinguish between professional breeders and pet profiteers.”
The law does not prevent residents from purchasing a pet directly from a breeder.
Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told The New York Times that AB 485 should reduce the number of unwanted animals in shelters.
“There’s no doubt this will help reduce the number of animals going to animal shelters,” she told the newspaper in September. “Nothing in this bill prevents people from buying an animal from a private breeder.”
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 35 cities in California have adopted similar policies at the local level, but the passage of AB 485 marks the first time a state has adopted such protections.
“We are thrilled that Governor Brown has signed into law this landmark law,” said Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation.
The bill’s requirements come into effect on January 1, 2019. Violators face fines of $500. You can read the wording of the bill here.
Writer Courtney Tompkins contributed to this report.