California Is One Step Closer to Becoming First State to Ban Puppy Mills

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Brandon Wade/AP Images for The Humane Society of the United States

California is on its way to become the first state to ban puppy mills statewide.

Bill AB 485  has been passed by the assembly which would prevent pet stores from selling dogs, cat and other animals from commercial breeders, otherwise known as puppy mills, which choose profit over the health, safety and well-being of its animals.  It passed with 55 agreeing with the bill, and 11 opposing it.

The next step is the state senate.

Related: The ‘Horrible Hundred’ Report Released to Shine Light on Worst Puppy Mills

If it passes, California could become the first state that would only allow pet stores to sell rescued animals, or those from shelters.

Sponsored by assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, a democrat of Long Beach, he believes the bill has the potential of saving tax dollars. Because puppy-mill dogs are bred in inhumane conditions, the animals face both physical ailments and behavioral issues. This costs unknowing consumers both heartache and expensive vet bills, according to O’Donnell.

The assemblyman adds that other cost-saving measures include the reduction of animal shelter costs. He states that California spends approximately $250 million a year catching, housing and sadly, euthanizing animals in shelters. By reducing the number of animals sold in the state, and therefore the number turned over to shelters, the annual cost would decrease.

“By requiring pet stores to exclusively sell shelter and rescue animals, this bill will help empty out our local shelters, find animals their forever homes, and even save local and county taxpayer dollars,” O’Donnell tells This Dog’s Life.

Opponents, including the AKC, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and local pet store owners, believe the bill is overstepping.

Related: Governor Christie Just Delivered a Major Blow to Ending Puppy Mills in New Jersey

“Great pets can come from a variety of sources including breeders, rescues, a pet shop or a shelter, “Sheila Goffe, the VP of government relations at the AKC, told This Dog’s Life. “Obtaining a pet is an important decision and individuals should have access to choice and be able to make an educated decision for themselves.”

O’Donnell and others believe choices are not being removed. Consumers have the right to purchase an animal directly from a reputable breeder. He adds that 35 cities int California already have ordinances similar to, or more stringent than the provisions of the bill.

The democrat who has two rescue dogs decided to introduce the bill after hearing concerns from residents.

“There are thousands of animals already needing to find forever homes, we do not need out of state, unhealthy, and poorly regulated puppy mills selling in California,” he says. “My bill will halt the sale of animals from puppy and kitten mills responsible for unhealthy animals and animal overpopulation.”

The bill comes on the heels of the USDA removing animal-welfare records from its public database, including those of commercial kennels.

Related: New Report Shows Things Are Looking Up for Shelter Dogs