Tuesday, an amended California Assembly Bill 485 was passed by the California Senate. The bill still seeks to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from pet stores unless sourced from a shelter or rescue. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors, including AB 485.
AB 485 will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature or veto upon the Assembly’s agreement to include the Senate’s amendments in the proposal. It is important that all concerned California residents contact Gov. Brown and urge him to veto AB 485.
Background: Over the past few years, a multitude of local jurisdictions have considered proposals to ban the sale of pets at pet shops, claiming that such proposals would put substandard breeders out of business. 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 false claims of animal population issues. Their proposed solution to these ills urges banning the sale of purpose-bred pets in lieu of sales of animals obtained from shelters and rescues.
California is the latest state jurisdiction that’s been targeted, after state-level attempts in Maine and New Jersey failed. AB 485 seeks to ban the sale of pets from known, regulated and inspected sources (including breeders and handlers subject to federal licensing), and compels 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 (which are not limited to geopolitical state boundaries).
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 fact that many local anti-breeding laws and breeding restrictions, also supported by these groups, have already eliminated hobby breeding and now make obtaining a specific type of dog bred by a local breeder increasingly difficult.
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.
Proponents of AB 485 have also incorrectly cited that New Jersey has enacted similar legislation, when, in fact, New Jersey’s Governor conditionally vetoed that state’s pet sales restriction bill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
All concerned California residents are strongly encouraged to contact Gov. Brown and urge him to veto AB 485. To contact the Governor, go to AKC's Legislative Action Center, or click here to contact the Governor’s office via email form. Use the talking points below in respectfully urging the Governor to veto AB 485.
- I share in the concerns about the wellbeing of all pets. I support strong enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including the updated 2014 retail pet store rule that requires breeders who sell pets sight unseen or to pet stores to be inspected and meet federal animal welfare requirements. AB 485 ignores these recent advances, and instead offers an arbitrary ban that neither addresses real issues of animal welfare nor the needs of California residents.
- AB 485 will exacerbate animal welfare issues in California communities because it removes access to the most regulated, health-tested and temperament-checked sources of pets, while promoting pets from sources that lack this oversight.
- AB 485 harms the public by removing available consumer protections for new pet owners. It promotes pets that lack a known health history and may present health risks for their new pet owners and the entire community.
- Many communities lack sufficient local breeders to meet the demand for the specific pets desired by local residents. Those seeking a puppy that is a specific breed from a breeder subject to USDA or state animal welfare standards, or one that is covered by California consumer protection laws, will likely be forced to purchase a puppy outside their community or to obtain one of unknown origin and with no health guarantees from a shelter.
- Instead of an outright retail sales ban, I support the American Kennel Club’s recommendation to limit pet store sales to dogs obtained from USDA-licensed breeders with no direct USDA animal welfare violations. AKC has supported successful measures in other states—including the recently enacted Illinois Senate Bill 1882, the “Safe Pets Bill”—that require new oversight and humane care standards for pet shops, and require that they may only obtain pets from breeders in full compliance with federal Animal Welfare Act health and welfare requirements.
AKC Government Relations will continue to provide updates on AB 485. For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.