CA Update: Bill Limiting Consumer Choice Passes First Committee

AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.

California Assembly Bill 485, which seeks to limit Californians from purchasing purposefully-bred dogs from regulated retail sources, passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday, April 18.  The bill has now been assigned to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. AKC actively promotes efforts to ensure that people are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a pet that is right for them. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.  On these principles alone, AKC opposes Assembly Bill 485

WHY ALL CALIFORNIANS NEED TO WORRY ABOUT AB 485: 

As recent history has shown, many anti-breeder animal rights extremists continuously advocate for incremental breeding and sales restrictions that they hope will eventually lead to outright bans on all animal breeding and ownership.  They collectively consider all breeders and pet stores as substandard and inherently not interested in practicing or promoting animal welfare.  These politically-aware extremists recognize that most purebred dog fanciers and enthusiasts do not think of themselves as similar to, or aligned with, pet stores or professional breeders.  As a result, they employ a “divide-and-conquer” governmental strategy to further split the political strength of breeder groups.  This is the strategic foundation that AB 485 is built upon.

Over the past few years, a multitude of local jurisdictions have considered proposals to ban the sale of pets at pet stores.  As the proposals move from one jurisdiction to another, the template stays largely the same.  Proponents make inflammatory allegations about abuses by breeders (whom they collectively call “puppy mills”) or unsubstantiated or uneducated claims of animal population issues, and offer a solution that urges the sales or adoption of animals obtained from shelters and rescues.  Animal rights groups count on the idea that the philosophical division between breeder groups will prevent them from uniting against their incremental, yet no less radical, agenda.    

Sponsored by the same group that attempted to institute mandatory spay/neuter in California in 2007, AB 485 seeks to ban the sale of pets from known, regulated and inspected sources (including breeders and handlers subject to federal licensing), and allow pet shops to only sell pets from unregulated and uninspected sources (i.e., shelters, rescues, and other similar organizations) that are not subject to state consumer protection laws or other guarantees.  In essence, retail pet store bans, including AB 485, remove available consumer protections for new pet owners, limit the ability of pet owners to obtain the appropriate pet for their lifestyle, and potentially increase public health risks for the entire community.  Furthermore, AB 485 will dramatically reduce every Californian's access and ability to choose a pet with the predictable type, mandated care, and substantiated health backgrounds that come with purebred pets from regulated sources.

AB 485’s proponents misleadingly claim that the bill will promote the purchasing of purebred dogs from local breeders.  That claim, however, fails to shed light on the many local anti-breeder laws they themselves have for decades successfully been advocating the adoption of in California cities and counties.  Unfortunately, those restrictions on breeders in local communities have made obtaining a specific type of dog bred by a local breeder increasingly difficult.

Predominantly, when governments attempt to limit the legitimate sources from which a person may obtain a pet, it not only interferes with individual freedoms, it also increases the likelihood that a person will obtain a pet that is not a good match for their lifestyle and the likelihood that that animal will end up in a shelter.

It has never been more important than it is now for all dog lovers and those concerned about the future of our breeds to work together to preserve the freedom of individuals to choose from a variety of pets and to find one that is the right match for each individual’s lifestyle.  Such pets can come from a variety of sources including directly from the breeder, from a retailer, or from a shelter or rescue.  The decision to acquire an appropriate pet should be made by consumers themselves, not by an arbitrary government mandate pushed for by extremists who ultimately seek the end of dog breeding and animal ownership. 

For more information, read Why Pet Shop Laws Affect You. 

The American Kennel Club and a coalition of animal interest groups will continue to lead the opposition against AB 485.  We hope you and your club will join in our efforts.  AKC will provide updates on AB 485 as developments warrant.  For more information on AB 485, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at doglaw@akc.org

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