California is one step closer to becoming the first U.S. state to require pet stores to offer adoptable dogs, cats and rabbits from shelters and rescue organizations, rather than selling animals from breeders or puppy mills.
Assembly Bill 485, also known as the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, passed in the California Assembly in June, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The bill is on Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's desk after passing in the Senate on Sept. 14.
An estimated 35 California cities already ban the sale of animals from puppy mills or other commercial breeding facilities in pet stores, but no statewide laws exist.
Private breeders will still be able to sell dogs, cats and rabbits to individuals if the bill passes, but those breeders will no longer be allowed to sell their animals in pet stores, KABC notes. Pet retailers would instead offer adoptable animals from rescue organizations and shelters.
The bill also mandates that pet stores keep public records showing where each dog, cat or rabbit was sourced. Failure to do so could result in a $500 fine.
As indicated by its unanimous passing in the California Senate, support for the bill is high.
The bill's supporters say it ensures animals are bred and sold safely and humanely by encouraging people to adopt pets from shelters or work with private breeders directly, The Associated Press notes.
Some supporters of the bill believe in its potential tax benefits, according to the Daily News.
“In addition to saving animal life, AB 485 is also good for taxpayers,” said Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell of Long Beach, who authored the bill. "Californians spend more than $250 million a year to house and euthanize animals in our shelters. Protecting the pets that make our house a home is an effort that makes us all proud."
Matt Dababneh, Democratic Assemblyman from Encino, said lawmakers have "actually seen a thriving pet industry based on the model of getting [animals] from shelters," The Associated Press reports.
Animal activists also support the bill, KABC reports.
"Dogs, cats and rabbits are shipped out to California from puppy mills, often from the Midwest, many times are unhealthy and aren't the animal that people are seeking to become part of their family," said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director for Michelson Found Animals Foundation.
Still, not everyone wants the bill to pass. Dustin Siggins, director of communications for Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, said the bill could cause some businesses to crumble, KABC reports. He also said some consumers are concerned over the uncertainty that comes with adopting shelter animals.
"They don't know their history," Siggins said. "They don't know their genetic history, you don't know their illness history."
Brown's spokesman Brian Ferguson declined to comment on whether the governor will sign the bill, according to AP.
Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign or veto the bill, reports the Daily News.
Sources: AP via US News & World Report, Los Angeles Daily News, KABC / Featured Images: Orlandkurtenbach/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA, Mendocino County Animal Care Services/Flickr