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New California Law Cracks Down On Animal Sales In Pet Stores

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2019.

Next year, pet stores will no longer be allowed to buy from breeders, or from “puppy mills,” which raise animals in poor conditions for profit. Instead, they’ll have to source their animals from shelters and rescues.

Erica Gaudet Hughes with the California Animal Welfare Association said many stores already work with such groups to host adoption events. Under the new law, the store could instead take ownership of the animal and resell it, but she doesn’t expect this option will be popular.

She is worried about a possible loophole.

“Fake rescues that form that are actually servicing animals from puppy mills in a way to get around the law,” she said. “If that emerges as a problem, we’ll need to seek a change in law.”

Pet store industry groups said some shops don’t want to sell shelter pets because they may lack information about breed, history and health conditions. A long list of cities ban all pet store sales of dogs and cats, as does Maryland.

Gaudet Hughes said the California policy is an important move against the disreputable breeders that some pet stores source their animals from

“California has said no to puppy mills and the widespread cruelty to these poor dogs,” she said.

The law does not prevent people who want purebred dogs from going directly to breeders.

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