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When most of us buy a pet, we like to think we're saving it from a horrible life in a pen, or worse. And animal shelters rely on the good intentions of pet owners to place animals in good homes. But in California, those good intentions have become law.
Governor Jerry Brown this week announced the signing of Assembly Bill No. 485, requiring pet stores to sell only rescue animals. The law is aimed at ending the practice of so-called "puppy mills," and makes the Golden State the first to enact such a law. So what does the new law actually prohibit, and what are the penalties?
Beginning in 2019, pet store operators would be prohibited from selling a live dog, cat, or rabbit unless the animal was "obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group." Additionally, the new law would require all dogs and cats sold at pet stores to be spayed or neutered.
Individual pet stores would be required to maintain records documenting the source of each and every dog, cat, or rabbit the pet store houses or sells for at least one year, periodically provide access to those records to public animal control agencies or shelters. Stores would also need to post signs listing the name of the entity from which each dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained on the cage or enclosure of each animal.
Non-compliant pet store operators are looking at $500 in fines for each animal offered for sale in violation of the law. We'll have to wait and see what impact the law will have on rescue animals and puppy mills.
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