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California Becomes First State to Ban Pet Store Sale of Dogs, Cats and Rabbits


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A landmark bill banning the sale of mill-bred dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on Oct. 13. AB 485 is the first statewide bill to ban these practices.

On Jan. 1, 2019, AB 485 will become effective and enforce the following regulations:

  • The sale of dogs, cats or rabbits in pet stores in California is prohibited.
  • All adoptable pets need sufficient documentation about their 501 (c)(3) source.
  • All pet stores must visibly display a sign disclosing the 501 (c)(3) source the animal came from.
  • A pet store operator who violates these regulations is subject to a civil penalty of $500 per animal and charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense.

After discovering the state's spend of $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in California shelters, the bill was introduced by assembly members Patrick O'Donnell and Matt Dababneh, and sponsored by Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL).

Similar bans were already in enacted in more than 30 California cities before the bill was signed. 

In August, O’Donnell spoke to Pet Product News (PPN), contending that one “unifying statewide law will make it simpler for pet stores to comply rather than having to deal with the current morass of local ordinances.”

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has been vocal about its stance on the bill. In August, Mike Bober, president and CEO of PIJAC, told PPN: “California’s pet and consumer protection regime is already substantial,” Bober said. “[The pet store bans] dangerously lump all breeders together under the ‘puppy mill’ epithet and abuse the public’s trust.”

However, with similar bans already enacted in many cities across the state, many California pet store owners and operators supported the bill.  

Andrew Kim, founder and CEO of Healthy Spot, a pet store chain with locations in Southern California, spoke in support of the bill at both the Assembly and Senate this year.

"I am thrilled to hear that AB 485 is now California law and codifies the best business practice of a humane pet store,” Kim said. “We know this humane model can be successful because this is how we have operated our stores since day one and are thriving without the need to sell a single animal.  

“Now banning an outdated business practice of selling pets will positively impact our community, reduce overcrowding in the shelters and provide more adoption options through rescue partners,” Kim added. “Making AB 485 the law was the right and smart business decision for California so that our pets, businesses and communities can benefit.”

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