California’s ban on retail sales of companion animals effective Jan. 1, 2019

Photo: Josh Henderson. "The aftermath of a 500 dog seizure in Fort Worth."

As of Jan. 1, 2019, pet stores can no longer sell companion animals, including dogs, cats, and rabbits, unless they are from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group.

The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act (AB 485) was first introduced on Feb. 13, 2017, by California Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell. Click here for original article. The bill went through the regular legislative process and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 16, 2017.

The law has now been codified as subsection (a) of section 122354.5 in the Health and Safety Code. The new law, which applies to both puppy mills and backyard breeders, states that:

A pet store operator shall not sell a live dog, cat, or rabbit in a pet store unless the animal was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group that is in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter pursuant to Section 31108, 31752, or 31753 of the Food and Agricultural Code.


Cal. HSC §122354.5

You can access the comprehensive reading of the new statute here. There are limited exceptions that apply, but the intent of this landmark legislation is clear—that is, “to promote the adoption of animals from shelters and rescue groups and encourage humane practices in the purchase of dogs and cats offered for retail sale in California.” (Emphasis added.)

The law also requires that pet stores must maintain documentation of the backgrounds of all the companion animals, as well as clearly display that information on the animals’ enclosures. Cal. HSC §122354.5.

This very long-awaited law was welcomed by animal lovers throughout the State of California. Among the many issues relating to “manufactured” animals is the reality that these sentient beings suffer unimaginable pain and suffering.

Although this law is groundbreaking in that California is the first state to pass this kind of legislation, there were already multiple local jurisdictions across several states that passed similar ordinances that preceded HSC §122354.5. Its purpose was essentially the same: “[T]o save lives by encouraging pet shops to provide shelter and rescue animals for adoption.” The Fact Sheet submitted in support of California’s AB 486 states, in relevant part that:

“’Puppy mills” or “kitten factories” are commercial breeding facilities that mass- produce animals for sale to the public, primarily through retail pet stores. 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.

Here are a few photos taken by Josh Henderson and posted on flicker of a puppy mill in which 500 dogs were seized from the property in July 2009.

This author adopted a puppy mill survivor. He suffered from a myriad of serious illnesses throughout the years. He was likely inbred, which exacerbated already inbred genetic defects. It was costly, yes; but the stress and constant worrying over his well-being was very emotional and stressful. His name was Brian. In spite of all that, he was an absolute joy. He was a beloved part of the family until 2005.

Puppy Mill Survivor
© Naida Austin

In whatever state you reside, anyone interested in adding a furry member to your family is encouraged to adopt a homeless animals. They are wonderful pets and are not stingy with showing their gratefulness. Contact a local rescue organization or visit your nearest shelter.

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