California Law Now States All Pet Stores Must Only Have Rescues

A Huge Step Forward In Combating Animal Factories While Promoting #AdoptDontShop

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

I dream a dream where I lunch with my friends and our puppies on a beautiful summer day. My puppy and I have been together since day one – from my research of reputable breeders, to hearing about some “accidental” puppies from my neighbors who need homes, I don’t know where my perfect puppy will come from but I know once it’s mine, it will be with me forever. Not to sound dramatic or anything, but the last time I saw that doggy in the window of a pet store, I just wanted to pick him up and free him. As a millennial, saving up for anything seems to be ten times harder than it was for baby boomers, so my dream fits within these parameters – small apartment with a small dog. What more could you need?

Unfortunately, the origin of animals in pet stores is often not so idyllic.

Have you ever wondered how pet stores get their animals?

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I don’t see many pet stores where I live anymore – the last being over 10 years ago. But in the United States, according to The Doginton Post, in 2013 there were over 5000 legal puppy mills, not to mention countless illegal ones. Sadly, puppy mills do supply pet stores with dogs who are kept in deplorable conditions (we will save you the horrific photos, and warn you if you Google, your heart will break). In our capitalistic society, profit drives us, and the pet world is not immune to this. To keep up with the high demand for adorable puppies and kittens, puppy and kitten factories were born. New owners are often blissfully ignorant of what these animals went through before appearing in store windows.

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The state of California has introduced a new law that will change the way animals are sold in pet stores.

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Back in 2016, the city of Los Angeles introduced a law that pet stores were only permitted to promote and adopt out animals from shelters and registered rescue societies. Rather than selling puppies who were ripped from their litter at 8 weeks old, pet stores must sell rescued animals or will face a $500 fine. (In our opinion, that feels like a low fee)

This was a huge step in the right direction to crack down on over-breeding and dangerous breeding conditions as seen with puppy mills. Many Canadian and American cities also took this stance.

Now, the state of California has passed Bill A. B. 485, which states that all animals in pet shops must be rescues.

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This law became a flame that came from a spark from the USDA blackout in February.

When public documents were removed from the USDA website, people spoke out. The documents retained information about institutions including puppy mills and their treatment of animals.

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With so many pets of all ages and types needing loving homes, why are so many animals bred for sale? The law hopes to balance supply and demand.

The contribution to over-breeding is not the only issue with puppy mills

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Like a factory, these bad breeders keep their parental pets in constant cycles of pregnancy and birth. There is no medical treatment given and it seems as if the breeders don’t care what the animals go through, as long as they get enough puppies or kittens for their brokers to sell. As we mentioned before, these animals survive in conditions that are truly heartbreaking, unsafe, and inhumane.

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If you’ve ever met a pupper of any shape or size, you know that they need to unleash the zoomies at least 3 times a day. Animals kept in factory conditions usually live in cramped cages covered in feces, urine, ticks, dust, and have no light.

They are left in their sickness and usually stay in cages where fellow pups/kittens have died.

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Since the 1970s, the number of pet animals tripled to almost 80 million (Rolling Stone, 2017). Thus, the pet-shop was born to meet with this demand.

The industrialization of breeding stopped our ability to see the animals as sentient beings with health and emotional needs.

In this twisted business, a broker buys the animals from a factory and relays them to pet stores who are also ignorant of where these animals come from.

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All in all, this law does seem like a win, but there are a few arguments against it.

Although individuals may buy their pets wherever they see fit, Ben Ashel, a California pet store owner, argues that people will struggle finding puppies that suit their lifestyles.

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For someone with their heart set on a a particular breed of dog at a particular age, there are still reputable, registered breeders who make their life’s work about the health and safety of their dogs, even making clients sign contracts, like adoption agencies do, promising that their dogs will never end up homeless. As we saw in the case of a Chihuahua found on the street who was registered to actress Anna Faris, this is actually used in practice.

Even celebrities are leading the charge in raising awareness for not going the pet store route, with their growing rescue broods.

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What matters most when you want to become a pet owner? Having a happy and healthy animal. Adoptable animals don’t love any less than designer dogs, which can come with their own host of issues.

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Kudos to California for making decisions to help ensure the protection of animals. We hope more cities, states, and countries follow their lead.