By Theodore Mattheiss
Prospective pet owners in California no longer have to worry that picking up a new friend from a pet store will support unethical breeding practices, thanks to a new law that was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown back in 2017 and took effect on New Year’s Day, 2019.
The law requires pet stores to only sell animals that they’ve obtained from shelters or rescue groups, a new rule which will slash demand for animals from breeding facilities known as puppy mills and kitten factories, and hopefully force them out of business.
These animal factories produce large quantities of dogs and cats for sale to pet stores, with little regard for the well-being of the animals. The animals in these facilities are kept in “overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization, or veterinary care,” a fact sheet that accompanies the legislation reads. California is the first state in the union to ban pet stores from selling animals that come from these factories.
The ban ought to be nationwide. Subjecting cats and dogs to such harmful living conditions in order to maximize profit is deplorable and cruel, a nasty underside of what should be a happy and positive experience—getting a new pet.
Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with shelter animals. A certain stigma surrounds them, a concept that they’re second-rate animals, not as good as those that come from breeders, but that’s not true. They’re just as deserving of a home and people who love them, and California’s new legislation means they’re more likely to receive those things. It’s good news, a step in the right direction for eliminating this stigma and treating animals with decency. Hopefully it is only the beginning of a larger trend in the nation, one that more states will soon follow.
It’s worth noting, however, that California is not completely alone in the effort. According to the New York Times, more than 250 cities and other local governments in the United States have put similar legislation in place to combat these unethical breeding practices.
“It did somewhat open up the possibility of moving it from a municipal effort to a statewide effort,” said Kevin O’Neill, vice president for state affairs of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to the New York Times. “I think you are going to start seeing more and more states doing it.”
So things are looking up. With any luck, these factories will soon be a thing of the past.
One last thing: if you’re planning on bringing a new cat or dog into your life in the near future, please consider adopting from a shelter instead of going to a pet store. It’s a choice that can help to fight against these unethical practices, and I promise, they’ll love you just as much.