More good news from the West Coast! With the nation celebrating California's move to legally accept non-binary as a 'third gender' option next to 'male' and 'female' on state-issued IDs such as birth certificates and driver's licenses, the state has also become the first in the U.S. to ban puppy mills and require pet stores to sell rescue animals.
According to the New York Times, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the AB 485 bill into law on Friday stating that as of January 1, 2019, it will be illegal for local pet stores to buy pets from mass breeders, colloquially referred to as "puppy mills" and "kitten factories."
Stores that do not follow the new legislation will face up to $500 in fines. Individuals are still allowed to purchase animals from private breeders.
Banning puppy mills isn't new to California, though, as 36 of its own cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, already had similar bans on mass breeding operations. However, Brown's measure introduces the ban at a state level, which is a huge win for animal rights and welfare. As stated in the AB 485 fact sheet:
"Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals.
In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care.
As a result, animals bred in these facilities often face an array of health problems, including communicable diseases, behavioral issues and genetic disorders."
The legislation was praised by many pet advocates but naturally had its opponents too. Some commercial pet breeders argue that it's unfair to apply the same regulation to responsible pet breeders who take care of their animals' wellbeing. They fear it will impose a risk on many local businesses, lead to bankruptcy and unemployment.
All in all, the new measure is definitely doing more good than bad as it not only puts animal welfare first, it also helps with curbing the soaring animal homelessness issue.
Numbers from American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) show that approximately 7,6 million domestic animals enter shelters and humane societies every year. Of that number, 2,7 million are euthanized due to pet overpopulation and lack of adoptive homes.